"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul." - Mark Twain

Is Israel an Apartheid State?

 “Is Israel really an apartheid state? YES.”
Virginia Tilley, Cape Town
February 2011
Note: Analysis in this summary, composed in 2011, drew partly from the full study composed by an international team of international law scholars of whether Israel's policies in the occupied Palestinian territories are consistent with apartheid as codified in international law. This study was, coordinated and edited by Virginia Tilley and issued in 2009 under the title Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A Reassessment of Israeli Policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories under International Law (Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. The original study was revised, updated and published by Pluto Press in 2012 under the title Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Contributors to this study are listed in the Preface. The summary offered here is entirely the responsibility of Virginia Tilley and any errors should not be attributed to the other contributors.
1.       What is apartheid?
b.      Racial Domination.
c.       Population Registry Act.
d.      Geographic Segregation.
e.      Pass Laws.
f.        Denationalisation.
g.       Racial State.
h.      Discrimination.
i.         “National” Rights.
j.        Political Rights.
l.         Denial of Basic Freedoms.

Apartheid is not just a particularly bad kind of racism. The word means “apart-ness” in Afrikaans (the language of the Afrikaners of South Africa, who are descended from Dutch settlers who first settled in South Africa in the 17th century). “Apartheid” refers to the formal doctrine, enforced by the state, of separating white and black people and ensuring absolute white supremacy. Determining whether Israel is also sustaining an apartheid regime requires careful attention to this principle of forced separation.[1]
Apartheid in South Africa traced back to older racist doctrines of white settlers in southern Africa. Afrikaner settler leaders—and many British-descended white people, too—had always believed that white people are racially superior to black people. They also believed firmly that African black, Coloured (mixed race) and Indian South Africans must never challenge or compete with white South Africans for control over the country’s land, resources, economy and political power. After 1948, when the Afrikaner-dominated Nationalist Party came to power, this doctrine was formalised into a comprehensive system of laws and practices governing every aspect of black people’s lives, in order to separate and privilege white lifestyles and businesses. This system of laws was called “Apartheid”.
Apartheid had two general approaches. “Petty apartheid” was the policy of keeping white and black people from mixing socially, even casually. White society needed black labour as maids, gardeners, street cleaners and so forth, which required that black people enter and sometimes live in white areas (in domestic quarters) as domestic servants. But true racial mixture was dangerous to Apartheid because it would have quickly broken down old prejudices. It would also have made white people vulnerable to black economic competition. Worse, living together in mixed cities would eventually have required that black people obtain political representation. So the National Party created laws to force black people to live outside white cities, in special black townships. Other laws kept people apart in public areas, like government offices, parks, bathrooms, and beaches. Signs were erected to signal black and white facilities, much like signs in the Jim Crow South of the United States before the victories of the civil rights movement.
Grand apartheid” was the regime’s doctrine of solving the racial problem by creating so-called “Homelands” for blacks, which would supposedly give them political rights in their own “countries”. By the 1960s, under growing international pressure, Nationalist Party leaders and apartheid ideologues tried to dignify their systematic oppression of black Africans by arguing that both blacks and whites had the right to live apart. Apartheid law was revised to define black Africans as distinct “peoples”, based on language differences, and to affirm that each “people”—the white people and black African peoples—each deserved and required separate states. In the 1970s, apartheid leaders even invoked the right to self-determination to argue for complete racial separation. In practice, this meant forcibly transferring millions of black South Africans into the “Homelands” (white-defined cantons) and installing black leaders to run them. Homelands could eventually qualify for self-governance and then “independence” as separate states (although always under the white government’s thumb). Only four Homelands went through the full process. (See map of Bantustans, next page.) In most cases, the Homelands were fragmented with white areas in between: for instance, Bophuthatswana in the north. In all cases, Homelands were in poorer areas.
It’s worth noticing here that Grand Apartheid was quite similar to the “two peoples in one land” doctrine long promoted by Zionism, which holds that Jews and Palestinian Arabs who live in the same land cannot live together as one nation. The Israeli-delineated cantons in the West Bank are often called “Bantustans” because they remind people so forcibly of the fragmented South African Black Homelands.

Can a State other than South Africa be guilty of apartheid?
YES. Informally, any State that enforces laws that forcibly divide people on grounds of race or ethnicity in order to ensure the domination of one over the other can be called an apartheid state. But the term also has a legal meaning under international law that can serve as an impartial test. As the world came to recognise the evils of apartheid in South Africa, the United Nations passed the Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. This Convention was intended to provide a “universal instrument”: that is, to apply to racist systems of rule anywhere in the world.
The Apartheid Convention defined “apartheid” as “inhuman acts” that were practiced “for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” The Convention offers examples of such acts, discussed later. These acts should be “similar” to acts in South Africa but not necessarily precisely the same. If any State does similar “inhuman acts”, for the same purpose of racial domination, that State is guilty of apartheid. (Valuable information on the Convention can be found here )

In terms of international law, a State’s practices must fit the Apartheid Convention’s definition of apartheid in order truly to be apartheid. The Convention’s definition suggests three ways to do this regarding Israel:
(1)    Compare the Convention’s listed “acts” with Israeli practices. We can look at the Apartheid Convention’s cited examples of typical “inhuman acts” and see Israel is practicing those same acts and for the same purpose of racial domination.
(2)    Compare other South African apartheid laws and practices with Israeli practices. We can look at other practices in apartheid South Africa that were developed for the same purpose of racial domination, but not listed in the Convention, and see if these match up with Israeli practices. (The Convention was written in 1972, so its definition didn’t anticipate all the changes that came later in apartheid South Africa, such as the independence of some Bantustans and the recognition of black trade unions.)
(3)    Review any other Israeli laws and practices for their racial purpose. We can look for any other laws and acts used by Israel used for the same purpose of racial domination. These must not be just isolated practices, however, or private ones, such as racist attitudes among social groups. They must be part of an over-all system of laws, policies and practices maintained and enforced by the State.  back to top

Is Israel guilty of apartheid?
YES. When we look at Israel’s whole system of demographic engineering, we find that the State of Israel maintains a system of laws, practices and doctrines that match the international legal definition of apartheid in the Apartheid Convention. Most of the “inhuman acts” cited in the Convention indeed read like a list of Israeli practices in the occupied territories. Many impartial observers—the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Red Cross and other responsible and impartial parties—have documented these practices for decades. Some are discussed later.
The only real question is whether these “acts” are practiced for the purpose of racial domination. Looking at Israel’s general policies, we find that they are. But first we have to consider that Israel operates differently in the various geographic areas under its control.  back to top

When people angry about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians charge Israel with apartheid, they are usually thinking of Israeli practices in the occupied territories: East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In these areas (although no longer in Gaza, where Jewish Israelis no longer live as settlers), Jewish settlers enjoy rights, freedoms and privileges that Palestinians are denied. In all of them, the Wall and armed border crossings staffed by Israeli security forces forcibly divide people on the basis of their identities (Jewish or non-Jewish). Critics may also think of conditions in the Gaza Strip, the area to which Palestinians once living inside the 1948 borders of Israel were expelled in 1948 and in which they are now confined by Israeli fences, military guards and pass laws.
However, Zionists who deny that Israel is guilty of apartheid always cite conditions for Palestinians inside Israel’s 1948 borders, where Palestinian citizens of Israel do have many rights that black South Africans were denied, like the right to vote.
Israel’s different policies toward Palestinians throughout the territory under Israeli State control must be seen as a whole system. Differential treatment of Palestinians in different geographic areas work together to ensure the goal intrinsic to apartheid: ensuring unassailable domination by one group (Jews) over another (Palestinians) throughout the territory under Israel’s control.
A precedent for this holistic approach to Israel’s policies toward Palestinians can be found in South Africa. In the 1980s, the State briefly granted some groups (Coloureds and Indians) some rights. This was actually done to consolidate the State’s ability to deprive the black majority of rights (an attempt that ultimately failed, of course). Black South Africans living in the townships also had a legal status different from those blacks who were given citizenship in the Bantustans. These different systems of control reflected both limitations of the State’s control capacity and differing white economic interests regarding the black population, regarding control of land and black labour.
Israel is ensuring Jewish domination (usually called a “Jewish state”) in the territory under its control by pursuing a similar policy of juridical fragmentation. Palestinian citizens of Israel have some civil rights precisely because this concession allows Israel to exclude roughly five million Palestinians living under military occupation from those same rights. Otherwise, Palestinian resistance throughout Israeli territory would escape Israel’s capacity to contain it.
Conversely, excluding the majority of Palestinians (who live in the occupied territories) from equal rights ensures that Palestinian citizens of Israel will always be a minority, unable to alter the laws that ensure Jewish dominion. That the Palestinians may someday outnumber Jews or gain enough leverage to demand equal rights as Israeli citizens is described by Zionists as Israel’s “demographic threat” (a disgusting term, strangely accepted in international parlance about Israel’s needs). But Israel could not get away with depriving native-born people of Israeli citizenship if Israel were internationally recognised as the sovereign power in the occupied territories. So it is actually beneficial to Israel to not be legally sovereign in the territories—at least for a while longer—so that Israel is not formally charged with apartheid.
Any study of apartheid in Israel must therefore consider that—while legally Israel is only in military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip—the State of Israel is effectively sovereign throughout the entire territory under its control and is actually exploiting its different legal status in different geographic areas to avoid having to enfranchise all the indigenous people and so imperil Jewish domination (Jewish statehood).
Ø  Within Israel’s borders at the ceasefire in 1948, Israeli domestic law applies and both Jews and (most) Palestinians have Israeli citizenship and civil rights, although special rights privilege Jews.
Ø  In East Jerusalem (still part of the West Bank under international law but usually treated as a separate category), Jews have citizenship while Palestinians have residency rights but not citizenship.
Ø  Within the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT), Palestinians live under military law and have no citizenship while Jewish settlers live under civil law and most (although not all) have Israeli citizenship.  

1.       “Racial domination” is the language used in the Apartheid Convention to define apartheid. Apartheid in South Africa was an explicitly racial system: all people were defined into one of four race categories (white, black, coloured and Indian). Apartheid law, policy and doctrine was openly about “racial” white superiority and supremacy.
2.       In Israel today, the language of “race” is not normally used. However, “race” was used for Jewish and Arab identities in earlier decades: as in the rest of the world, terminology has simply changed. As scientific support for measurable objective racial differences collapsed, and racist doctrines were discredited, language has switched to terms like “peoples” and “ethnic groups”. Precisely because just changing terms is irrelevant to actual discrimination, international law does not limit “racial discrimination” to “races” as we use the term today but extends it to discrimination based on “colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin”.
Anti-Semitism—whose opponents helped craft this intelligent language—is therefore a form of racism because it targets Jews according to ideas about their descent, origins and ethnicity, whether or not “race” is perceived. (For example, a recent Zionist Cape Times letter correctly argued that anti-Semitism must be considered racism, even though today Jews are not considered a race.) The system maintained by the State of Israel to ensure domination by Jews over Palestinians as non-Jews is therefore a system of “racial domination” in the sense of international law even though the term “race” is not used any more.
NOTE: If discrimination against people because they are Jewish is rightly considered a form of racism, then discrimination against people because they are not Jewish must equally be considered racism.  back to top

c.       Population Registry Act.
1.       South African law infamously categorised everyone in the country according to race and gave people a different legal status according to their ascribed identity.

2.       Israeli law also requires that everyone under Israeli rule be categorised according to religious/ethnic identity (Jewish, Arab, Druze and so forth) and gives people different legal status according to these identities. (Legal attempts by some principled Israelis—both Jewish and Palestinian—to avoid this system, and be registered only as “Israelis”, have so far been rejected by the courts and the State.)   back to top

1.       In South Africa, the apartheid system delineated special areas for black people, forcibly transferred millions of black people into those areas and then limited their ability to leave them or enter white areas through Pass Laws. Some of these areas were black-only townships adjacent to white cities, to allow whites access to black menial labour. Others became the Bantustans or “Homelands” (artificially drawn up by the white apartheid government). This was the State’s “Grand Apartheid” strategy: the complete segregation of the races through geographic divisions, which would ultimately preserve white supremacy in South Africa. This creation of “reserves” for racial groups was specified in the Apartheid Convention as an “inhuman act”.

2.       Similarly, Israel has forcibly transferred hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of areas intended for Jewish-majority use and cantonised the entire territory under Israeli State control to confine most Palestinians to certain areas solely because they are not Jews. Inside Israel’s 1948 borders, this is done by banning Palestinians from leasing land in Jewish national land, which is 93 percent of the State’s territory. In the occupied Palestinian territories, this is done by delineating cantons, divided by Jewish-only cantons, where Palestinians are allowed to live and work but which they cannot leave without Israeli-issued passes. Segregation extends even to banning Palestinians from using certain road and highways through West Bank territory.
NOTE: People arguing that Israel is not an apartheid state often argue that Israel does not practice “petty apartheid” — separate parks, bathrooms and beaches for whites and blacks. True, inside Israel no actual laws impede such mixing. And Jews and Palestinians do routinely mix in a few limited areas, such as parts of Haifa and Jerusalem. But in most of the country, ethnic separation is rigid and the populations do not mix. Jewish towns are hostile territory for Palestinian citizens, and Jews feel timid about entering Arab towns. In the OPT, whole towns and cities—and the land and highways between them—are demarcated for Jews only, while Israelis are prohibited from entering Palestinian areas.
NOTE: Where Grand Apartheid is operating, petty apartheid is not needed.   The States does not need to separate public facilities when it has separated whole cities.

Pass Laws were a particularly hated policy in apartheid South Africa, as they prevented black South Africans from entering or living in white areas except under very limited conditions and any accidental violation made black people subject to detention and imprisonment.
2.       Inside Israel’s 1948 borders, since 1966, Palestinian citizens of Israel have not suffered from Pass Laws as the system was eliminated to help prevent them from becoming a fifth column inside Israel before the 1967 Six-Day War. In the occupied territories, all Palestinians must have a military government pass to enter Israel or Jewish areas of the OPT or to leave their own area. Elaborate border crossings enforce this restriction and cripple Palestinian movement and trade. In Gaza, this restriction has become so strict that very few can leave at all. As the entire Gaza Strip is also completely surrounded by an electric fence monitored by Israeli soldiers, and Palestinians are shot if they even come near the fence, the Gaza Strip is often called an open-air prison.  (The only way for Palestinians to leave or enter the Gaza Strip without Israeli permission is through hazardous tunnels dug deep under the Strip’s southern border into Egypt.)

1.       In its latter decades, apartheid South Africa tried to deprive blacks of their citizenship and transfer their citizenship to the black “Homelands” that the State delineated unilaterally within South African territory. The apartheid government justified this policy, ironically, in the name of black national self-determination.
2.       In the OPT, Israel has granted citizenship to Palestinians, although their rights and liberties are limited by laws that grant preferential rights to Jews. In the OPT, however, Israel has denied citizenship to the five million Palestinians under occupation solely because they are not Jews, and has indicated that they can obtain citizenship only in other countries. Palestinian refugees living outside the country are also denied citizenship in the land of their birth or origin. (The Israeli government’s agreement to the formation of a Palestinian state would ostensibly compensate for the problem of denationalisation, but this agreement has been highly circumscribed and always conditional on terms that are unlikely to be achievable.)  back to top

1.       Under apartheid, South Africa was established by law as the state of the white race, which was defined as a distinct “people”. No other recognised “race” (Blacks, Coloured or Indians) had comparable rights in South Africa. (Black Africans were divided by the apartheid State into separate “peoples” based on language and given separate “Homelands”.)
2.       Israeli law similarly defines the State of Israel as the state of the “Jewish people”. No other “people” in Israel (such as an Arab or Palestinian people) has recognised national rights in Israel except the “Jewish people”. The Israeli government has repeatedly reinforced this view in its diplomacy, by proposing that Palestinian citizens of Israel be transferred to a Palestinian state because each state must be for a different “people”: Israel for the “Jewish people,” not the “Israeli people”.

1.       Under apartheid, South Africa maintained a comprehensive system of discrimination to segregate the “races” and ensure white supremacy. These included limiting the jobs that blacks could do, what kind of businesses they could operate, where they lived and where they could travel, their educational opportunities and everything that affected their life chances. It also included “petty apartheid”—reserving beaches, parks, benches, entrances, bathrooms and so forth for blacks and whites.
2.       Inside Israel, some rights of citizens are universal, but a special body of laws conveys special rights and privileges to Jews, such as the right of return (and citizenship) and the exclusive right to lease land on Jewish “national” land—which is 93 percent of the state’s territory. Jews also have preferential access to housing and education subsidies and exclusive access to certain employment sectors. In the West Bank, Jewish residents (settlers) have special rights, privileges, facilities and freedoms while non-Jewish residents (indigenous Palestinians) are denied those same rights, privileges, facilities and freedoms. The dual legal system, with separate laws, courts and jails for Jews and Palestinians, is a hallmark of this discrimination. Israel does not maintain “petty apartheid” but this is because the communities usually cannot mix at all.  back to top

1.       In apartheid South Africa, the State used the language of self-determination to argue that white people and black peoples were separate nations who cannot live together. This evolved into the Bantustan policy: that black people should have separate “homelands” or even “independent” states, whose borders the white State delineated, whose policies always remained subject to white fiat, and which compliant black elites were installed to govern.
2.       Similarly, Zionism has used the language of self-determination to argue that Jewish and non-Jewish Palestinians are two separate nations/peoples who cannot live together. This has evolved into a system of assigning distinct zones for Palestinian society, whose borders the State has delineated and in which Israel has cultivated compliant Palestinian elites to govern. In both cases, the State held/holds absolute control over the indigenous zones and dominates the entire territory for the benefit of the dominant group.  back to top

1.       Apartheid South Africa excluded blacks from voting and all political rights, except in the Homelands, where elections for black governments were held under the white State’s supervision, strictly limiting the range of political views that can be expressed.
2.       Israeli law provides equal civil rights to non-Jewish citizens regarding elections but not the right to vote for any party that will oppose the discriminatory laws that ensure Palestinians’ inferior legal status. In the OPT, Palestinians have no political rights at all. Elections have been held only with Israeli approval and while military occupation continues, strictly limiting the range of Palestinian political positions that can be expressed.  back to top

1.       In apartheid South Africa, apartheid doctrine evolved to endorse separate states for blacks, defined according to their ethnic and language differences, as separate black “nations”. Ultimately this policy generated ten black “homelands”, four of which became “independent” states with governments, elections, flags and civil police forces, but were always controlled by the white South African government and lacked key powers of sovereignty such as control over borders, air space, cyberspace, natural resources such as water and any meaningful military power.
2.       In Israel, Zionist doctrine has evolved to endorse a separate “homeland” for Palestinians (non-Jewish indigenous people) that may or may not obtain the label “state” but will certainly be dominated by Israel and will lack key powers of sovereignty such as control over borders, air space, cyberspace, natural resources such as water and any meaningful military power. back to top

1.       In South Africa, apartheid laws denied black people a gamut of basic rights and freedoms. The Convention lists some of these as examples. What matters most is their purpose—“to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups”.  
2.       All of the cited examples are practiced by Israel:
                                                   i.      [Denial of] the right to work. Apartheid laws restricted blacks to menial labour and allowed only limited quotas of blacks to work in the white-owned mines and other white sectors. Blacks were not allowed to develop industry inside the Black Homelands that would compete with white industry. Inside Israel, Israeli law limits the jobs that Arab citizens can do by restricting some to Jews only.
In the OPT, Israeli military rule limits the development of Palestinian industry through licensing and trade restrictions and allows only very limited numbers of Palestinians to work as manual labourers in Jewish areas.
                                                 ii.      [Denial of] the right to form recognized trade unions: Apartheid South Africa did not recognise black trade unions until the late 1970s.
Israel still does not recognise Palestinian trade unions. In the OPT, Palestinians are required to register with the Histadrut, the Jewish-Israeli trade union, although it does not represent their interests.
                                                iii.      [Denial of] the right to education: South African law denied education to blacks beyond basic skills, in order to cut them off from upward mobility and competition with whites.
Israeli law does not have such a system but impairs Palestinian education through different means. Inside the 1948 borders, Palestinian education is impeded through reduced public budgets for Palestinian schools. In the OPT, these include military closures, travel restrictions and funding cuts. But, as with the Mixed Marriage Act (see below), the goal of preventing competition with the dominant group for employment is prevented mostly through other methods, including geographic separation, travel restrictions, and by assigning some employment sectors preferentially to Jews.
                                               iv.      [Denial of] the right to leave and to return to their country: Palestinian citizens of Israel can freely leave and return to their country. But the millions of Palestinians who are not Israeli citizens are infamously prevented from returning to their country: this is the immense refugee problem dating from the wars of 1948 and 1967. Millions of Palestinians now living in the OPT who fled their homes inside the 1948 borders are also prohibited from returning to their home towns and cities. Palestinians in the OPT are often prevented from leaving and, if they do leave, prevented from returning.
                                                 v.      [Denial of] the right to a nationality (citizenship): Israel violates this provision in two ways. Most egregiously, it has denied Palestinians citizenship in the State that governs in the land of their birth – Israel—explicitly to maintain an overwhelming Jewish majority. Holding Palestinians outside the national fold as a “demographic threat” to Jewish statehood, Israel has also prevented formation of a distinct Palestinian state that would provide an alternative. South Africa faced the same dilemma resulting from this policy: that the native people had no citizenship and clearly required one, which prompted the Bantustan policy. Israel is now following the same course: create a vulnerable autonomy zone and call it a “state” in order to escape the moral, political and diplomatic consequences of denying people a citizenship.
                                               vi.      [Denial of] the right to freedom of movement and residence: South Africa infamously cantonised the land and strictly limited the freedom of black South Africans to move around the country, particularly into white areas. Israel does the same. Inside the 1948 borders, Palestinian citizens can move freely anywhere in the country but may not lease property in the 93 percent of the country reserved for Jewish national use. In the OPT, restrictions on movement are draconian and crippling. Ethnic cleansing is also clearly underway in East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank.
                                              vii.      [Denial of] the right to freedom of opinion and expression: South Africa suppressed ANC and opposition expression through a range of methods, from censorship to assassination. Israel does the same: censorship laws limit what can be reported even within the 1948 borders and foreign journalists operate under strict constraints. Palestinians in the OPT can operate newspapers and conduct internal debates but are closely monitored and can be arrested or killed if their views are deemed likely to threaten Israel’s occupation.
                                            viii.      [Denial of] the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
1.       Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups: Israel’s entire geographic policy is to divide the population this way: see above.
2.       By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups: In the OPT, Israel’s policy of administrative detention—detention without trial—is notorious. Recently the State has begun to use this practice with Palestinian citizens as well. The State also maintains two separate judicial and court systems for Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank.
3.       The prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups:
                                                   i.      The Mixed Marriages Act was an infamous act in apartheid South Africa which banned inter-racial marriage.
                                                 ii.      Israel doesn’t have a Mixed Marriage Act but doesn’t need one to achieve the same goal of preventing miscegenation. Civil marriage doesn’t exist in Israel: only religious authorities can officiate over marriage, which makes inter-sect marriages very difficult. Also, ethno-religious divisions in the country are very deep and anti-Arab prejudice among Jews is very strong, so mixed marriages are extremely rare. In the almost unheard-of instance that a Muslim or Christian Israeli and a Jewish Israeli wish to marry, one of them must convert or they must marry in another country.
Also note: Zionists frequently cite the absence of a Mixed Marriages Act in Israel as evidence that Israel is not an apartheid State. But according to the Convention, all of “infamous acts” it lists as examples do need not to exist to constitute the crime of apartheid. The absence of this or any one provision in Israel therefore doesn’t signify that Israel isn’t an apartheid state. In fact, the Mixed Marriages Act is one of very few provisions in the Convention that Israel doesn’t replicate in direct laws, so it is a stretch to cite this exceptional instance as evidence that Israel isn’t guilty of apartheid when the bulk of other evidence is so overwhelming that it is.
4.       the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof:
[extensive documentation of land appropriation for settlements by B’tselem, others]
5.       Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid. South Africa’s repression of black dissent—the ANC, the United Democratic Front—was infamous, extending to arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, letter bombs and murder. The South African government eventually identified the whole body of resistance to apartheid “total onslaught” which required a “total defense”, justifying these measures. Israel replicates this orientation by referring to all Palestinian resistance as “terror” and uses the same methods: arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, assassination, etc.
6.       By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: Israel is infamously culpable of systematic torture and inhuman treatment of Palestinian prisoners. The extent of evidence is too great to cite here: any Google search will immediately bring up reliable sources, including Israeli ones.
7.       Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part: This provision uses the language of the Convention against Genocide. It’s a curious addition to the Apartheid Convention because South Africa could not be accused of this practice. Neither South Africa nor Israel appears to have pursued policies to cause the mass death of the indigenous people as a goal in itself. All evidence indicates that killings, starvation, deprivation of vital medical assistance and the infliction of mass human suffering are callous and cruel methods toward intimidating people and compelling their political capitulation, not toward their physical extermination. Again, this does not mean that Israel (or South Africa) is not an apartheid state.
8.       Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour: Apartheid was certainly based on ruthless exploitation of black labour, which it ensured by imposing conditions that left blacks with no option but to work at the menial and arduous tasks reserved for blacks (through Bantu education, restrictions on black trade and industry, etc.). However, South Africa did not rely significantly on forced black labour. Israel relied significantly on cheap Palestinian labour through the 1980s. After the first intifada (1987–1993) Israel began systematically to exclude Palestinian labour and now its labour dependency on the OPT Palestinian population is negligible. One may speculate that the Israeli government undertook this policy precisely because dependency on black labour was identified as one factor that brought down apartheid in South Africa in 1990. The Israeli economy continues to rely on cheap Palestinian labour for agricultural work and to build the settlements. An old doctrine, drawing from Biblical tradition, has been that Palestinians may remain in Israel but only as “hewers of wood and drawers of water”. back to top

[1] Afrikaans is the language of Dutch settlers in South Africa, who called themselves “Afrikaners”. Over centuries of settlement, their language became a modified version of European Dutch and now has a distinct status as an official language of South Africa.