This series about Israeli Apartheid Week Talking About Israeli Apartheid Week has served to provide an in depth understanding of the issues surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict. Here are seven frequently asked questions about Israel apartheid that aim to guide understanding and debunk propaganda myths about Israeli apartheid.
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Frequently asked questions about Israeli apartheid
1. But Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East! Arabs even serve in the Israeli cabinet and have rights to vote just like Jews! How's this apartheid?
America was a democracy while it practiced slavery; and practiced racial segregation long after that. Just because Israel has a quasi-democracy within its recognized borders doesn't mean it can't implement apartheid at the same time.
In addition, the apartheid policies are primarily implemented by Israel in the Palestinian territories. None of the rights and privileges you mention are extended to Palestinians under occupation. As indicated earlier, Israel quite blatantly maintains a racist regime in the occupied territories. Please refer to part II and part III of the series.
2.. In South Africa there were 'white-only' beaches and numerous other facilities reserved for whites only. You don't see any such signage or rules in the case of Israeli apartheid. Your analogy is flawed.
It is important to recognize that apartheid is not a mere analogy. It is defined specifically as a crime against humanity under international law. Some dismiss the charge of Israeli apartheid simply because of the differences with South African apartheid. It is important to recognize that both regimes had their unique features and both constitute apartheid independent of each other.
In addition, in many cases Israeli apartheid could be considered far worse. While South Africa had 'white-only' beaches, Israel has allocated entire colonies for exclusive Jewish use in Palestine. Schools, parks, roads and hospitals are all 'Jewish-only.' There might not be signage to say this in large font, but only Jews are allowed to live and reside in these areas -- despite them being in occupied Palestinian land.
3. Palestinians live under such deplorable conditions because they are ruled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The PA is corrupt and fails to provide its people a decent standard of living. Israel has nothing to do with the OPT.
Palestinians aren't ruled by the PA. They are under Israeli military occupation since in 1967. Every aspect of their life is subject to rules set by the Israeli military. Since 1993, Israel has transferred some of the administrative responsibilities to the PA. However, this is should not be confused for autonomous rule. Even officials of the PA can be arrested by Israel and need Israel approval before making many decisions. The PA basically gives the illusion of a Palestinian self-government while all the power is still in Israeli hands.
The West Bank is divided into three categories of administration:
Area A (18 per cent of West Bank) -- Military and Administrative control is under Palestinian control. This area includes the main Palestinians cities. The Israeli army still accesses this area to conduct raids and other operations.
Area B (22 per cent of West Bank) -- Administrative responsibilities under Palestinian Control, Military control is under Israel.
Area C (60 per cent of West Bank) -- Both Administration and Military is under Israeli control.
Thus, it should be clear that West Bank is far from being an autonomous state. It is still has no sense of self-determination and is at the complete disposal of Israel. Hence, Israel is free to build Jewish colonies, apartheid roads, control water supply etc.
4. Why do you keep calling Gaza as Occupied Territory? Israel evacuated the strip in 2007 and it's under Hamas control. Israel bears no responsibility.
Gaza is still considered occupied territory under international law. Israel has not granted it independence; it has simply relocated its military to the borders and has implemented a brutal siege. Israel has blocked land, air and water access to Gaza -- nothing can go in or out. It's the world's largest open air prison. Israel regularly conducts raids in the strip and shoots innocent civilians who dare to go close to the border regions. See more on the Israeli blockade to learn how Israel still controls every aspect of Gazans and has made the strip inhospitable.
5. Palestinians needs to recognize Israel's right to exist before the peace process can move forward.
Palestinians recognized Israel in 1993 when they signed the Oslo Accords with Israel. How much more recognition does Israel want? Is signing a treaty not sufficient? This superficial demand is just an excuse to block the peace process and prolong the occupation.
6. Gaza is ruled by Hamas which has been declared to be a terrorist organization. It is always launching rockets at Israel and Israel thus has the right to defend itself.
Nelson Mandela's ANC was also declared to be a terrorist organization by the West for waging an armed struggle against apartheid. In fact, Mandela was only taken off the terrorist list recently. Declaring someone to be a terrorist doesn't mean they are necessarily one; these are just propaganda tactics employed to skew the reality.
Hamas was elected democratically by Gazans and it has been under a severe siege since; Hamas' actions are defensive as it is trying to fight foreign occupation. Hamas is to be condemned when it targets civilians; however, Israel also needs to be condemned for the prolonged occupation which gives rise to violent resistance in the first place. The vast majority of Palestinians support non-violent resistance; as best indicated by the hunger strikes by hundreds of innocent Palestinians locked up in Israeli jails.
7. If Israel gives Palestinians freedom, they will take over Israel, outnumber Jews and eliminate the Jewish State!
These types of nonsense arguments were used by racist Americans when they tried banning slavery; 'If we give blacks freedom, they will buy guns and shoot us!' Making such statements is just that: racist and nonsense.
Waleed Ahmed is a freelance writer based out of Toronto. He enjoys writing about current affairs, human rights and religion.
Photo: flickr/Wall in Palestine
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