Why B’Tselem is calling Israel an apartheid regime, from the river to the sea


One of Israel's top human rights groups recognizes the occupation cannot be viewed in isolation from the goal of Jewish supremacy inside the Green Line.

Bedouin women looking at their demolished home in the village of Umm al-Hiran, the Negev, southern Israel, 18 January 2017

Orly Noy writes in +972:

There is a constantly lurking danger for individuals and groups struggling for social or political change. We tend to concentrate so intently on our goal that we no longer realize that the circumstances in which we are acting have fundamentally changed. Not only are we on a different playing field, we’re playing a different game entirely. When the forces we face use their enormous power to distort and disguise this reality, our mission of recognizing it — of calling it by its name — becomes ever more necessary.

This is precisely what B’Tselem, one of Israel’s oldest human rights organizations, is doing today: the NGO is declaring its position that, between the river and the sea, there exists a single, Israeli, apartheid regime that strives to entrench, deepen, and make irreversible Jewish supremacy in every corner of the land.

The word “apartheid” has very severe connotations, and the historical memory it conjures is bone-chilling. As a member of B’Tselem’s board, I can say that we held many difficult discussions leading up to the decision to publish this statement. Establishing that the State of Israel maintains an apartheid regime on both sides of the Green Line was not easy for any of us — not only as members of a human rights group, but first and foremost as Israeli citizens.

It is important to remember, however, that “apartheid” is not simply a derogatory term that leftists throw around whenever they get angry at the current reality. Rather, it is a description of a regime with clear characteristics: one whose organizing principle is to promote and perpetuate the superiority of one group over another. As we enter 2021, this is precisely the reality we face in Israel-Palestine.

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