We are Israel’s largest human rights group – and we are calling this apartheid


The systematic promotion of the supremacy of one group of people over another is deeply immoral and must end

The future must be radically different.’ Israel’s controversial separation barrier at the Qalandia crossing between the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, December 2020.

Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, writes in the Guardian 12 Jan 2021
One cannot live a single day in Israel-Palestine without the sense that this place is constantly being engineered to privilege one people, and one people only: the Jewish people. Yet half of those living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea are Palestinian. The chasm between these lived realities fills the air, bleeds, is everywhere on this land.

I am not simply referring to official statements spelling this out – and there are plenty, such as prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion in 2019 that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens”, or the “nation state” basic law enshrining “the development of Jewish settlement as a national value”. What I am trying to get at is a deeper sense of people as desirable or undesirable, and an understanding about my country that I have been gradually exposed to since the day I was born in Haifa. Now, it is a realisation that can no longer be avoided.

Although there is demographic parity between the two peoples living here, life is managed so that only one half enjoy the vast majority of political power, land resources, rights, freedoms and protections. It is quite a feat to maintain such disfranchisement. Even more so, to successfully market it as a democracy (inside the “green line” – the 1949 armistice line), one to which a temporary occupation is attached. In fact, one government rules everyone and everything between the river and the sea, following the same organising principle everywhere under its control, working to advance and perpetuate the supremacy of one group of people – Jews – over another – Palestinians. This is apartheid.

There is not a single square inch in the territory Israel controls where a Palestinian and a Jew are equal. The only first-class people here are Jewish citizens such as myself, and we enjoy this status both inside the 1967 lines and beyond them, in the West Bank. Separated by the different personal statuses allotted to them, and by the many variations of inferiority Israel subjects them to, Palestinians living under Israel’s rule are united by all being unequal.

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