Seattle Port Demonstration Against Apartheid

Aisha Mansour‎, The Palestine Solidarity Committee – Seattle, June 13, 2021

Thank you for your readiness to mobilize Seattle! After our successful action yesterday and rally today, we have prevented the ZIM San Diego from unloading for another day!

SSA President Edward DeNike has asked the ZIM San Diego to leave the Port of Seattle but ZIM is refusing. Let’s show apartheid profiteer ZIM what people power can do! Stay tuned for more updates. No mobilization tomorrow morning. Text to subscribe to our alerts (833) 584 – 1948.

BDS Is Gaining Momentum With #BlockTheBoat Actions in Oakland and Seattle, Yoav Litvin, Truthout, June 11, 2021

June 17, 2021
One People, Segregated IDs Premiere

12:30 pm Central

Join Rabet for the premiere of our latest documentary, “One People, Segregated IDs”.
Learn more about how Israel’s apartheid policies, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, segregate Palestinians based on their ethno-national identity, issuing different types of IDs for Palestinians depending on their location, each with varying freedoms and rights.

The event will include a panel dicussion as well as a live stream of the documentary, followed by a Q&A session on the ways in which the tiered ID system segregates Palestinians and impacts their basic human rights.

We will be joined by the following speakers:
Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director, Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Maha Abdallah, International Advocacy Officer, The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

Moderated by:
Mayss Al Alami, Research and Advocacy, the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD)

For more information and to attend please register here.

Two former Israeli ambassadors join ‘apartheid’ accusations

“It is time for the world to recognize that what we saw in South Africa decades ago is happening in Palestine… time for the world to take decisive diplomatic action… towards building a future of equality.”

Alon Liel (l), Omar Shakir (c), and Ilan Baruch in July 2019. The two former ambassadors were seeking to prevent Shakir’s deportation from Israel. Foto from Liel’s twitter feed.

Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, June 8, 2021

The news today is that two former Israeli ambassadors to South Africa have accused their country of practicing apartheid by creating bantustans for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. “It’s apartheid, say Israeli ambassadors to South Africa,” Ilan Baruch and Alon Liel write at Groundup.

This is yet another apartheid charge leveled by serious people in what Al Haq has said is the “mounting recognition” and “mainstreaming of the legal analysis of apartheid over the Palestinian people as a whole.”

There is of course stiff resistance in the American discourse. Before getting to Baruch and Liel’s argument, I’d note that in recent days Bernie Sanders has flicked away the apartheid charge saying progressives should “tone down the rhetoric,” and David Makovsky has said critics call Israel “all sorts of bad names.” And NPR has given a platform to a scholar calling the charge “offensive” to Jews.

Well here are two more Jews making the charge.

Baruch and Liel say that they “learned firsthand about the reality of apartheid and the horrors it inflicted.” And they relate South Africa to current conditions in the West Bank, where Palestinians are forced on to smaller and smaller tracts of land.

This reality reminds us of a story that former Ambassador Avi Primor described in his autobiography about a trip that he took with then-Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon to South Africa in the early 1980s. During the visit, Sharon expressed great interest in South Africa’s bantustan project. Even a cursory look at the map of the West Bank leaves little doubt regarding where Sharon received his inspiration. The West Bank today consists of 165 “enclaves” – that is, Palestinian communities encircled by territory taken over by the settlement enterprise. In 2005, with the removal of settlements from Gaza and the beginning of the siege, Gaza became simply another enclave – a bloc of territory without autonomy, surrounded largely by Israel and thus effectively controlled by Israel as well.

The bantustans of South Africa under the apartheid regime and the map of the occupied Palestinian territories today are predicated on the same idea of concentrating the “undesirable” population in as small an area as possible, in a series of non-contiguous enclaves. By gradually driving these populations from their land and concentrating them into dense and fractured pockets, both South Africa then and Israel today worked to thwart political autonomy and true democracy.

The former ambassadors say what Human Rights Watch said when it released its apartheid report in April. Israel has no intention of leaving the West Bank and East Jerusalem, after 54 years of occupation.

[T]he occupation is not temporary, and there is not the political will in the Israeli government to bring about its end…. It is time for the world to recognize that what we saw in South Africa decades ago is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories too. And just as the world joined the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, it is time for the world to take decisive diplomatic action in our case as well and work towards building a future of equality, dignity, and security for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Here’s how HRW put it in the report penned by Omar Shakir:

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Fact Sheet: Palestinian Citizens of Israel

Fact Sheet: Palestinian Citizens of Israel
Palestinian citizens of Israel protesting the passage of the Jewish nation-state law. Tel Aviv, August 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), March 17, 2021

Basic facts & figures

  • There are 1.9 million Palestinian citizens of Israel (as of December 2019), comprising 21% of Israel’s population.
  • 83% of Palestinian citizens of Israel are Muslim, 9% are Christian, and 8% are Druze, according to Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
  • Most Palestinian citizens of Israel live in three areas: the Galilee in the north, the so-called “Little Triangle” in the center of the country, and the Negev desert (Naqab to Palestinians) in the south.
  • There are more than 60 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
  • There are 60,000 to 70,000 homes (as of 2020) belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel that are threatened with destruction by the government because they were built without official permission, which is extremely difficult for them to obtain.

Who are Palestinian citizens of Israel?

  • In 1948, approximately 750,000 indigenous Palestinians were expelled from their homeland by Zionist militias and the new Israeli army during Israel’s establishment as a Jewish majority state. Approximately 150,000 Palestinians remained inside Israel’s borders following the armistice that ended the resulting war, many of them internally displaced and denied the right to return to their homes, most of which were destroyed by Israel.
  • Most Palestinians who survived the expulsions were granted Israeli citizenship but between 1949 and 1966 they were governed by repressive military rule, forced into segregated “ghettos,” had most of their land taken from them for the use of Jewish Israelis, and severe restrictions were imposed on their freedom of movement, speech, and ability to earn a living. 
  • Military rule was lifted in 1966 but today Palestinian citizens of Israel continue to have their land taken from them and homes destroyed, and suffer from widespread, systematic discrimination affecting almost every aspect of their lives.

Systemic discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel

  • As part of an effort to maintain the Jewish majority created by the expulsions of 1948, Israel has passed a series of laws to limit the growth of the remaining Palestinian population and their towns and villages, and marginalize them politically. Today, there are more than 60 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel directly or indirectly, based solely on their ethnicity, impacting virtually every aspect of their lives, including housing, employment, education, healthcare, and who they can marry. 
  • In 2018, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed the “Jewish nation-state” law as one of the country’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, which was widely condemned as racist and entrenching apartheid in Israel. Among other things, it declares

The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

“The state views the development of Jewish settlement [segregated housing for Jews-only] as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.”

  • Israel’s Basic Laws also bar political candidates and parties from advocating for a secular democracy in which all citizens are fully equal, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, by calling for an end to Israel’s system of Jewish privilege. In 2018, legislation calling for Israel to become a state based on full equality for all citizens introduced by Palestinian citizens of Israel was banned by a committee and prevented from even being debated by the Knesset. A Knesset legal advisor explained the bill was rejected because it included “several articles that are meant to alter the character of the State of Israel from the nation-state of the Jewish people to a state in which there is equal status from the point of view of nationality for Jews and Arabs.”

Confiscation of Palestinian property, destruction of Palestinian homes, ‘Judaization’ of Palestinian land in Israel

  • Since 1948 when the state was established, Israel has used laws such as the British Mandate-era Land (Acquisition for Public Purposes) Ordinance law and the Absentee Property Law to confiscate millions of acres of Palestinian land for the use of Jewish Israelis. The Absentee Property Law, passed in 1950, allows the government to expropriate land belonging to Palestinians, including Israeli citizens, who were forced from their homes during Israel’s establishment and prevented from returning. Israel also declared large amounts of land belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel “closed military zones,” and then used a law dating from the Ottoman Empire era to take it over. According to one estimate, of 370 Jewish towns established by Israel between 1948 and 1953, 350 were built on confiscated Palestinian land.
  • After displacing tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel, destroying many of their homes and villages, and taking most of their land for the use of Jewish Israelis, Israel made it extremely difficult for them to build or expand their homes or the boundaries of their towns. In May 2020, Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled, Israel: Discriminatory Land Policies Hem in Palestinians; Palestinian Towns Squeezed While Jewish Towns Grow, concluding:

“Decades of land confiscations and discriminatory planning policies have confined many Palestinian citizens to densely populated towns and villages that have little room to expand. Meanwhile, the Israeli government nurtures the growth and expansion of neighboring predominantly Jewish communities, many built on the ruins of Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948.”

  • These restrictions have caused serious overcrowding in many communities. When Palestinian citizens of Israel are then forced to build without government approval to meet the natural growth of their families, Israel destroys the structures. In 2018, Israel passed the “Kaminitz Law” to expedite the process of destroying Palestinian homes built without official permission. According to the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, as of 2020 there were an estimated 15%-20% of Palestinian homes in Israel lacking difficult to obtain permits, and between 60,000 and 70,000 homes at risk of being totally destroyed by Israel as a result. As of 2015, 97% of the demolition orders issued by Israeli courts were against Palestinian citizens of Israel, even though they only made up about 20% of the population.

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Palestinians in Israel now face far right mob violence backed by the state

Protests by Palestinian citizens are being greeted with a mix of police violence and vigilante-style attacks from Jewish fascists

The more the Palestinian minority protests against the structural discrimination it faces, the more it risks inflaming the passions of the Jewish far-right

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a meeting with Israeli border police in Lod on 13 May 2021 (AFP)

Jonathan Cook, Middle East Eye, 14 May 2021

With Jerusalem ablaze and Gaza on the brink of another major Israeli onslaught, it has been easy to overlook the rapidly escalating ethnic violence inside Israel, where one in five of the population is Palestinian.

These 1.8 million Palestinians – Israeli citizens in little more than name – have spent the past week venting their frustration and anger at decades of Israeli oppression directed at their own communities inside Israel, as well as at Palestinians under more visible occupation.

Already the protests, which have been sweeping Palestinian communities inside Israel, have been greeted with a savage backlash – a combination of official violence from Israeli police and vigilante-style violence from far-right Jewish gangs.

Israeli politicians have been warning noisily of “Arab pogroms” against the Jewish population. But with the rising influence of the openly fascist far-right in Israel – many of them armed settlers, some with ties to military units – there is a much greater danger of pogroms against the Palestinian minority.

Israel’s Palestinian citizens have been at the heart of the wave of protests in occupied East Jerusalem that began a month ago, at the start of Ramadan. With the aid of their Israeli ID cards and relative freedom of movement, many travelled to East Jerusalem in organised bus convoys. They bolstered numbers in the demonstrations at Sheikh Jarrah, where many Palestinian families are facing expulsion from their homes by Jewish settlers, backed by the Israeli state. They also participated in the defence of al-Aqsa Mosque.

But last weekend, as social media was flooded with clips of police storming al-Aqsa and of Jewish extremists excitedly cheering a fire near the mosque, protests erupted inside Israel too. There have been nightly demonstrations in larger Palestinian towns, including Nazareth, Kafr Kanna, Kafr Manda, Umm al-Fahm, Shefa-Amr and Beersheva. Police have responded in familiar fashion, firing stun grenades into the crowds and smothering them with tear gas. There have been large numbers of arrests.

Boiling point

Some of the most violent clashes, however, have been taking place elsewhere, in communities misleadingly described by Israel as “mixed cities”. Israel has traditionally presented these cities – Lod (Lydd), Ramle, Jaffa, Haifa and Acre (Akka) – as examples of “Jewish-Arab coexistence”. The reality is very different.

In each, Palestinian citizens live on the margins of a former Palestinian city that was ethnically cleansed upon Israel’s founding in 1948 and has been aggressively “Judaised” ever since.

Palestinian residents of these cities have to deal daily with the racism of many of their Jewish neighbours, and they face glaring institutional discrimination in planning rules designed to push them out and help Jews – often members of the settler movement or extremist religious students – take their place. All of this occurs as they are tightly policed to protect Jewish residents’ rights at their expense.

Israeli forces detain a group of Arab-Israelis in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod on May 13, 2021, during clashes between Israeli far-right extremists and Arab-Israelis. Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP

Israeli forces detain a group of Palestinian citizens of Israel in Lod on 13 May, during a rampage by Israeli far-right extremists and protests by Palestinians (AFP)

Resentment and anger have been building steadily for years, and now seem to have reached a boiling point. And because the “mixed cities” are among the few places in Israel where Jewish and Palestinian citizens live in relatively close proximity – most other communities have been strictly segregated by Israel – the potential for inter-communal violence is especially high.

The roots of what some still view as a potential new intifada, or Palestinian uprising, risk being smothered in areas of Israel. The more the Palestinian minority protests against the structural discrimination it faces, the more it risks inflaming the passions of the Jewish far-right.

These Jewish fascists are riding high after their parties won six parliamentary seats in Israel’s March election. They are seen as integral to any coalition government that caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may put together.

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Second Class Citizens

Kevin Walsh, July 6, 2016

A 2009 study of the legal status of Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip concluded that Israel’s practices constitute colonialism and apartheid and are illegal under international law.6 The study took 18 months, and contributors included jurists, academics and international lawyers from Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, South Africa, England, Ireland and the United States.7

In fact, these conditions exist not only in occupied Palestine, but in Israel as well. A 2012 poll showed that the Jewish public supports ethnic segregation between Arabs and Jews, and 58% of Jewish Israelis called Israel an apartheid state. One commentator noted, “If the use of the term apartheid is anti-Semitic, as some of Israel’s PR agencies claim – then most Israelis are guilty of anti-Semitism.” 8

A 2005 letter to the Badger Herald argued that Israel was not South Africa:

    The divestment campaign in South Africa was appropriate and legitimate because it garnered international recognition of apartheid, an internal system of exploitation and segregation forced upon a black majority by a white minority. Divestment legitimately targeted corporations that profited from this egregious situation. While some have argued that Israel is conducting apartheid policies against the Palestinian people and Arab-Israeli citizens, this comparison is absurd. Arab-Israeli citizens retain the same civil and political rights that any Jew possesses in Israel, with the ability to vote in elections and serve their constituents as elected officials. (emphasis added)

Unfortunately, this is not true. Israeli laws, and the civil and political rights they define, are different for different Israeli citizens. Israel’s purpose in this is to maintain its status as a Jewish state, as Roland Nikles commented:

    In a 2010 interview, Peter Beinart — as liberal a Zionist as you’ll find — said: “I’m not even asking [Israel] to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state. I’m actually pretty willing to compromise my liberalism for Israel’s security and for its status as a Jewish state.” 2

Then Nikles continued:

    The problem is, however, once you accept unequal treatment of citizens based on ethnicity and religion in some respects, it becomes a slippery slope. Where do you draw the line? 2

Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, has published “The Discriminatory Laws Database” which has more than 50 laws “enacted since 1948 that directly or indirectly discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel in all areas of life, including their rights to political participation, access to land, education, state budget resources, and criminal procedures.” 3

Arab Israeli citizens do not enjoy equal rights in Israel. Here are some examples:

  1. There is a law discriminating between Jewish and Palestinian Israeli citizens regarding rights to recover property in Israel owned before the 1948 War. The 1950 Absentees Property Law says that Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes by Jewish forces, but are currently known as citizens of Israel, are deemed “present absentees”. Present absentees are regarded as absent by the Israeli government because they left their homes, even if temporarily and involuntarily. Israeli law allows Jews to recover their land, but not Palestinian Israeli citizens.1 “The Israeli Absentees Property Law of 1950 declared expropriated Palestinian absentee property, even of Palestinian Israeli citizens, as state land, and continues to refuse the return of the refugees.” 11
  2. There is a law allowing Jews who lost property in East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1948 war to reclaim it. Again, Palestinian Israeli citizens who lost property in West Jerusalem or the state of Israel in the 1948 war cannot recover their properties. Israeli legislation allows Jewish Israeli citizens to recover their land, but not Palestinian Israeli citizens.1
  3. There is a law that denies citizenship and Israeli residence to Palestinians who reside in the West Bank or Gaza Strip and who marry Israelis. While the stated justification was to prevent terrorists from entering Israel, it allows Israel “to maintain the state’s democratic nature, but also its Jewish nature” — its Jewish demographic majority. Critics say the law disproportionately affects Arab citizens of Israel, since Palestinians in Israel are more likely to have spouses from the West Bank and Gaza Strip than other Israeli citizens.1
  4. There are laws that establish separate educational systems that are funded unequally.2 According to a 2005 study by Hebrew University, three times more was spent on the education of Jewish children than on Palestinian Israeli children.1
  5. There is a law that empowers hundreds of local Jewish communities to exclude applicants based on ethnicity or religion. Israel’s Supreme Court upheld this law in September 2014.3 Palestinian Israeli citizens are barred from living in 68% of all towns in Israel by admissions committees.5
  6. The Israeli government is more restrictive in issuing building permits in Palestinian Israeli communities than in Jewish, and omits Palestinian Israeli towns from specific government social and economic plans.1 Buildings without permits are illegal, and this is a commonly cited reason for demolishing Arab buildings.
  7. There is a law prohibiting anyone from calling for a boycott of Israel, its institutions, or any person because of their affiliation with Israel, including the settlements in the occupied territories. The law was upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court on April 15, 2015.3
  8. There is a law that bans any political party that denies the existence of Israel as a “Jewish” state. A party advocating equal rights for all Israeli citizens regardless of ethnicity is illegal.3
  9. The Israeli government has promoted programs like the Prawer plan which will displace tens of thousands of Bedouin Israeli citizens from their homes in the Negev desert, forcing them to relocate and lose land. At the same time, the government is offering incentives for young Jews to build new Jewish communities in the Negev.4

Americans are too willing to assume that the only democracy in the Middle East has a written Constitution and Bill of Rights like theirs. The examples above are legal discrimination by the Israeli government. This unequal treatment under the law applies to over 1.7 million Israeli citizens in Israel, more than 21% of the population.1 By comparison, African Americans are only 13% of the U.S. population.12 Whether this discrimination is apartheid is still strongly debated, because that label has frightening implications for the Jewish state of Israel.

Related Articles

  • Israel announces new resettlement plan for Negev Bedouins, Ma’an News Agency, July 26, 2016.
  • Endnote:
    Israel operates under a combination of legal precedents, common law, and the Basic Laws of Israel. As of today, the Basic Laws do not cover all constitutional issues, and there is no deadline for a constitution.10 As the Israel State Archives notes

      Israel, famously, has no constitution. Fact. The reason, according to general opinion, is that back in 1948, the religious parties didn’t want one, because it might conflict with the Bible, so the secular politicians humored them at the time, and what started as a temporary act of politics became a permanent condition.” 9

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