Israel, An Apartheid State?

By Rodney Mazinter

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warns that Israel will face intense pressure in 2022 over accusations that it is an “apartheid state”. One manifestation of this is the recently published report by Amnesty International (AI), whose largely debunked findings seem to have found its mark in the minds of anti-Israel adherents who using incorrect statistics accuse Israel of practicing apartheid.

The expletive “apartheid” directed at Israel is a political ploy used as a hatchet job to denigrate the country despite its impressive achievements and performance as a moral, caring society that holds life dear. It is easily demonstrated that millions of lives across racial, cultural and religious boundaries throughout the world have been saved and positively affected by Israel’s ethical and humanitarian practices, technological achievements in many fields including medical, health, water management and IT, and that the country shows an open willingness to share its knowledge and achievements with the world, including the Palestinians.

These subverters of the truth see Israel’s defensive measures against terror attacks on its citizens, and the five defensive wars it was forced into by Arab belligerence, as an indication of apartheid whereas real apartheid can be found in the surrounding Arab countries that refuse to change the Palestinians refugee, apartheid status while Israel absorbed the 800,000 Jewish refugees who were expelled from the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, and immediately made them citizens.

Like all societies and countries, Israel is not perfect and makes mistakes. It is these errors of judgment and the decisions on which they are based that are turned against Israel, and only Israel. Gleefully her enemies led by Amnesty International seek them out, often embellishing them with invention with which they berate her in international forums. These critics can be found in organisations such as the various bodies that go to make up the United Nations, especially the UN Human Rights Council and the skewed representation of Israel’s enemies in the General Assembly.

Weighed in the balance of humanity and performance, Israel is far from being found wanting and is streets ahead of her accusers.

Those ostensibly supporting Palestinians, devalue their cause by quoting from propaganda and not from independent sources. One such independent source is Freedom House, which evaluates countries throughout the world and apportions a percentage score dependent on each country’s human rights performance. Israel scores 79% despite facing constant terrorism and ranks above every country in the Middle East and North Africa, with Syria scoring a low of minus-one and Jordan a high of 37%. Israel’s record is better than South Africa’s 78% and just behind the USA at 86%.

Out of this international campaign against Israel have come disparate bodies from both the extreme left and right such as BDS and neo-Nazi groups that operate on the fringes of normal society. Their mutual target is the State of Israel, and their coin is distortion, exaggeration and outright lies. 

To the above can be added a truly hostile Amnesty International, organisations such as BDS, and the Palestinian Solidarity Committee, who have trampled over facts in their rush to condemn Israel and to destroy it. They unblushingly employ distortion, lies and invention to delegitimise the Jewish state, reawakening the ancient blood libels and dusting off the discredited fraud, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. They do not hesitate to give a free pass to the disruption of meetings and cultural events to promote their ends. 

Added to this motley assortment of critics must be added international political leaders, mainly dictators, all of whom wage or have waged an unrelenting campaign against Israel.

There is an ongoing, distorted depiction of the non-existence of Israel in schools and among the young from an early age. This denial serves only to raise conviction among Israelis that the Palestinians and what they say is not to be trusted and serves only to prepare a growing Palestinian population for hatred of Jews, ongoing terrorism, and unrelenting war. To compound this perception are the Hamas and PA charters that call for, inter-alia, death to Jews and the destruction of Israel. Iran calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.

It is extremely difficult for rational people who value personal freedom to understand the motivations of those who live comfortably in the West and yet embrace monstrous dictators, ideologies, and policies that leave only death and destruction in their wake.

They seem to turn against the concept of fairness and equality to embrace the toxic beliefs and contorted thought processes that would allow them to destroy the very freedoms especially in the democratic West that they and their families enjoy. They turn to support totalitarian ideologies such as Marxism, Nazism, and now, radical Islam.

Equally notable and deplorable is the double standard that avoids any use of the term racism regarding bigoted invective and attacks levelled by Arabs against Israel and Jews. I do not know of a single case in which any of these critics directly labeled Palestinians or Arabs racists or practitioners of apartheid notwithstanding the many documented examples of anti-Semitic media broadcasts, bigoted political and religious statements, and the denial of human rights to anyone that is a political or religious non-conformist. 

Why is it that they all but ignore anti-Jewish bigotry while volubly, publicly, and without cause, denounces Israelis as bigots? 

There is a growing antipathy towards the Jews. Wherever they turn they are met by rent-a-mobs of ignorant, hullabalooing know-it-alls, howling their anthems of hatred. Chief among this crowd are the most redundant, evil, conceited, and dim-witted individuals around levelling accusations of Israel being an apartheid state.

Fasle Knowledge as Power: Executive Summary

Barrister Joshua Kern and Legal Advisor Anne Herzberg analyse the policies and practices of apartheid as pursued historically in South Africa and examines the nature and evolution of the apartheid allegation levelled against Israeli officials.

In December 2021, we published a report titled False Knowledge as Power: Deconstructing Definitions of Apartheid that Delegitimise the Jewish State, which sought to rectify the lack of a coherent and legally substantiated definition of the crime of apartheid. Accusations of this crime against humanity have been historically leveled at the state of Israel and its officials by powerful NGOs such as Human Rights Watch (HRW), B’Tselem and, most recently, Amnesty International. The lack of an accepted definition of the crime of apartheid has been harnessed by central actors in the campaign to delegitimise Israel, who apply the term to characterise the political and legal nature of Israel’s government, and in many cases to delegitimise the notion of Israel’s identity as a Jewish state.

The legal analysis found the definitions of apartheid’s elements commonly used by the NGOs to be unreasoned by reference to principles and instruments of international law; consequently, we found the legal basis upon which accusations of apartheid against Israel rest to be invalid.

In this report, we expand on this analysis by assessing whether apartheid, as previously defined, is applicable to Israel and territories under its military administration. Building upon our previous analysis, it aims to respond to the most politicised aspects of the NGOs’ allegations by presenting a clear-eyed review of the validity of common claims which are said to support a case that apartheid is being committed in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

First, we examine specific allegations made in the main NGO and UN reports alleging Israeli responsibility for apartheid – including publications by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, B’Tselem, Al Haq, and former UN Rapporteur Richard Falk. We also review prominent academic publications and the 2018 Palestinian complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. We then turn to the topics that appear most frequently in such publications, including the concept of a “Jewish State,” the Law of Return, the Nation State Law, separate legal regimes in Area C of the West Bank, freedom of movement, “right of return,” settlements, and the concept of race and racial groups. We analyse claims made regarding these issues against the elements of the crime of apartheid in the Rome Statute per False Knowledge as Power. We conclude with a discussion about institutional discrimination and offer recommendations to the government of Israel.

Main Findings:

  • Apartheid discourse is not merely criticism of or an attempt to improve Israeli policy. Rather, it is used by NGOs and UN officials to construct a narrative that presents Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state as illegitimate.

  • The NGO and UN reports present an ahistorical and decontextualized narrative to press the case of apartheid. The publications erase the international community’s endorsement of the creation of a Jewish State, alongside Arab States; Arab military aggression and the ongoing Palestinian rejection of any final settlement to date; Palestinian political divisions and the root causes of fragmentation; and how the ongoing armed conflict has shaped policy in the region.

  • NGO and UN publications overwhelmingly adopt an neo-orientalist approach towards Zionism and Judaism. Their claims rest on antisemitic caricatures and stereotypes, which trivialize how Jews have, for thousands of years, defined their peoplehood and their religion.

  • Claims that Israel imposes a single, institutionalised apartheid regime “from the river to the sea,” and has deliberately “fragmented” the Palestinians are false. The existing territorial and political division of the Palestinian population results not from Israeli policies of “domination,” but rather from geopolitical factors impacting the history of the conflict, including Arab rejectionism, the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Jordanian and Egyptian control over the West Bank and Gaza respectively, the Oslo Accords (mutually agreed to between Israel and the PLO and witnessed by representatives of the international community), and Palestinian political splits.

  • Contrary to NGO and UN rapporteurs’ claims, there is no fundamental incompatibility between Israel’s identity as a Jewish state and the protection of equality for all its citizens.

  • Israel’s Law of Return does not provide for “Jewish preferential citizenship,” nor does it make the citizenship of non-Jews in any way inferior. Its provisions are consistent with international norms.

  • Any reasonable assessment of Israel’s policies must be viewed through the lens of its security dilemma and the context of armed conflict within which they are implemented. NGO and UN reporting consistently fails to address these issues.

  • An intention to secure the right of a people to reside in their ancient homeland, alongside Palestinian communities, cannot be said to entail an intention to establish and maintain a relationship of “domination and oppression.”

Click Here for the Full Report

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