Israel – the Apartheid State

Is Israel an apartheid state? Comparisons between apartheid South Africa and Israel have often been made, but not always clearly explained. Before we delve into the subject, let us try to understand what the term apartheid really means. The word originated in South Africa and is derived from Afrikaans meaning, literally, apartness or separateness. The term originated as a political slogan coined by Dr Daniel F. Malan, leader of the South African National Party, in 1944. The policy of apartheid was included in the party platform during the successful election campaign in 1948, forging a coalition of disunited Afrikaner (White) groups and classes, and would serve as the basis for the regime’s racial program until it was repealed in 1991-92.

The purpose of apartheid was separation of the races: not only of whites from nonwhites, but also of nonwhites from each other, and, among the Africans (called Bantu in South Africa), of one group from another. Initial emphasis was on restoring the separation of races within the urban areas. A large segment of the Asian and Colored (i.e., mixed races) populations was forced to relocate out of the so-called white areas, as were the native Africans whose townships were demolished and occupants forcibly removed.

The main architect of apartheid was Hendrik F. Verwoerd (1901-66), the leading intellectual and ideologue of the National Party. Under his prime ministership, apartheid developed into a policy known as "separate development," whereby each of the nine Bantu groups was to become a nation with its own homeland, or Bantustan. An area totaling about 14% of the country’s land was set aside for these homelands, the remainder, including the major mineral areas and the cities, being reserved for the whites. The basic tenet of the separate development policy was to reserve within the confines of the African’s designated homeland rights and freedoms, but that outside it blacks were to be treated as aliens. [1]

According to Ian Campbell, "Having been assigned a national homeland, or Bantustan, Africans settled and working in South Africa would lose their residence and other rights and became liable to deportation in the event of political unrest or large-scale unemployment. Under the guise of ‘trusteeship’, government policy was to confine the African majority to reserves that could not support them, thus ensuring the continuation of a cheap, compliant labor force." [2]

The African population, three-quarters of the total, was disenfranchised and subject to coercion backed by law. Non-whites were required to carry identification papers. Laws forbade most social contacts between those of European descent and others, authorized segregated public facilities, established separate educational standards, restricted each group to certain types of jobs, curtailed nonwhite labor unions, and denied nonwhite participation in the national government. [3] Movement to and between other parts of the country was strictly regulated, the location of residence or employment (if permitted to work) was restricted, and the urban African workers were seen as transients. Only those holding the necessary labor permits, granted according to the labor market, were allowed to reside within urban areas without their spouses. None of the African reserves were viable nations. They were made up of broken tracts of poor-quality land, riddled with erosion and incapable of supporting their large designated populations. With no industry, opportunities for employment were few. [4]

So, how realistic is the comparison of Israel’s policy towards the indigenous Palestinian people with those practiced by the White racists, segregationists in South Africa? None is probably better equipped to answer this question than Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who won the Nobel Prize for peace. Speaking about his visit to Israel in April, 2002, he said, "I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about." [5]

The similarity does not end there. It is much deeper. Like White settlers who colonized South Africa, Israel has been a settler enterprise of the European Zionists to colonize Palestine inhabited by indigenous Palestinians. It was no accident that Theodor Herzl, the father of political Zionism, had written about his plan to Cecil Rhodes, the most typical of British colonialists of his time: "How then, do I happen to turn to you, since this is an out of way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial … And what I want you to do is … to put the stamp of your authority on the Zionist plan and to make the following declaration to a few people who swear by you: I, Rhodes, have examined this plan and found it correct and practicable." [6]

Lies and Deceptions:

The Zionist plan was more hideous than that of the Afrikaners. In South Africa, the white settlers sought to dominate, rather than expel, the native population by incorporating them as inferior citizens in a polity under exclusively white control. Zionists, on the other hand, tried to take control of the entire Palestine by excluding its indigenous non-Jewish population, whose very existence they tried to deny before the Israeli state was born. With misleading slogans: "people without a land for a land without a people", they tried to claim ownership of an "un-inhabited" Palestine, which by the time of partition had some 1.3 million Palestinians living.

Land-grabbing and Expulsion of Palestinians:

The expulsion of the Palestinian people and occupation of their land was a deliberate and systematic undertaking. Joseph Witz, head of the Jewish National Fund, responsible for land acquisition, wrote in 1940: "Between ourselves, it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country … The only solution is Eretz Israel, at least the Western Israel, without Arabs, and there is no other way but to transfer the Arabs from her to the neighboring countries; to transfer them all … Only after this transfer will the country be able to absorb millions of our brethren." [7]

As one can see this devious program was formulated well before Israel was born. It was criminal and racist to the core. In 1980, Professor Israel Shahak of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem noted, "Basically, the State of Israel was founded on by people who were not conscious of the rights of non-western people … They had absolutely no sense of justice for people outside this group." He noted that the dominant attitude of the Israeli state was "fundamentally racist." [8]

When the Partition Plan was announced on Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly made a non-binding recommendation (Resolution 181) for a three-way partition of Palestine into a Jewish State, an Arab State and a small internationally administered zone including the religiously significant towns Jerusalem and Bethlehem. [9] Jews were allotted 56% of the Mandatory Palestine and Arabs 43%. The Jewish territory was to include some 0.47 million Arabs living with nearly half a million Jews.

The Arab League rejected the plan because of being too unfair to the majority Palestinians who comprised more than two-thirds of the overall population. [10] Initially, most of the Zionist leaders, including those from the Jewish Agency and Ben Gurion, also criticized the Plan. Menachem Begin, the progenitor of today’s Likud, warned that the partition would not bring peace because the Arabs would attack the Jewish state and that "in the war ahead we’ll have to stand on our own, it will be a war on our existence and future." [11] Many extremist Zionist settlers simply wanted an Israel that would have no non-Jew inhabitant. To them, the important question was: how to create a Jewish majority in a country with majority indigenous Palestinian people? The answer was: expulsion of the indigenous population and promotion of Jewish immigration to the new colony.

On April 1, 1948, the Security Council adopted Resolution 44 "to consider further the question of the future government of Palestine."

However, the Zionist leaders did not want to wait too long and, being prepared militarily, declared independence of the state of Israel unilaterally on May 14, 1948. As expected when the war broke out with the Arabs, the Zionists sought to establish Jewish demographic dominance by expelling nearly 711,000 indigenous Palestinians. By the time the Armistice Agreement was signed in July of 1949, the Zionists ended up grabbing 78% of the original territory, leaving a mere 22% of the land to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. [12] Out of a total of 475 villages existing in 1948, 420 Palestinian villages were destroyed within the new state of Israel where Jews were settled. [13] In 1950 Israel used the Absentee Property Law to expropriate property belonging to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled their homes during the 1948-49 war. The Israeli law violates Article 46 of the Hague Convention, which prohibits confiscation of private property in occupied territory.

Denial of Citizenship:

The apartheid doctrine is officially professed by the Zionist state in its proclamation of special status for the Jewish people, the Law of Return for the Jews and the Law on Nationality. Under Israeli law, a Jew from Philadelphia or anywhere on earth becomes an Israeli citizen at the very moment he sets foot on Tel Aviv airport, whereas a Palestinian, born in Palestine of Palestinian parents, may be treated as stateless. He has no right of return to his ancestral home once he was forced out in the wars. Nor is his property rights honored if he is an absentee landlord, even though he may be residing inside the West Bank and Gaza. The same apartheid that applies to citizenship is in force where rights of residence and marriage are concerned. [14] It was no fluke that when the UN General Assembly passed the Resolution 3379 in 1975 equating "Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination" it did so for the right reason.

Segregation and Discriminatory Laws:

During the 1948-67 period while no structured physical segregation of the Palestinian population from the usurping Israelis was attempted, the Israeli military administration controlled Israeli Arabs’ movements, imposed curfew on them, controlled where they lived and confiscated their land to favor Jewish occupation. It also prevented structural dependence on the Palestinian economy, particularly on its labor. Before 1948 less than a third of the workers in the Jewish sector were Palestinian. From 1948-67, the remaining Palestinian Arabs supplied no more than 15% of the labor force. [15]

Following the pre-emptive strikes in June of 1967, Zionist settlers were able to consolidate their authority over the entire territory, while making sure that Palestinian grip of their own territories ever shrinks. The 1967-War brought some one million Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories. The Israeli government resorts to forced eviction of the Palestinian people so as to lower their proportion in comparison to the settler Jews. It also encourages Jewish immigration from Russia and elsewhere to Israel giving them the right to citizenship to maintain an edge in population over the Palestinians. Conversely, it denies such rights of return, let alone citizenship, to all those Palestinians who fled the country.

As can be seen from the above analysis, South African apartheid wanted the land and the people, albeit with segregation; the Israeli leadership tried to take the land without the people. Since 1967, Israeli government developed a detailed policy of territorial integration and demographic separation. It encouraged encroachment of Zionist settlers into Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [16] Israeli law also allows Jewish settlers to carry arms. [17]

Like the South African White settlers, within the Occupied Territories, the Israeli government enacted different laws and decrees to regulate lives of its Palestinian population. Like the Blacks in South Africa, the Palestinian people don’t have freedom of movement. Like South Africa, Israel’s highly discriminatory and strangulating economic decrees forces the indigenous people into not only providing cheap labor for the Israeli market but also selling their properties at a cheaper price to the settler Jews and Jewish agencies. [18] Between 1967 and 1990, according to Dr. Leila Farsakh, a Palestinian political economist, who teaches at University of Massachusetts, "More than a third of the Palestinian labor force was employed in Israel and generated over a quarter of the territories’ GDP." [19] So horrible is the condition of Palestinians inside the Occupied Palestine that they are forced to reflect everyday if exodus is not a better option for them to live, raise their children and care for the elderly.

Expansionism, Settlements and Religious Myths:

Ben-Gurion said, "We have set up a dynamic state, bent upon creation and reform, building and expansion." [20] Expansionism is at the heart of an apartheid state, which Israel has practiced since day one. In order to justify its aggression and annexation, like South Africa, Israel also draws motivation from the Bible. The settler state of Israel is depicted as a fulfillment of God’s promise to the Jewish people (Genesis 15:18). Forgotten there is the mere fact that the Ashkenazi Jews (the so-called thirteenth tribe) who form a majority of world Jewry today and govern the state of Israel have no blood connection with the "seed" of Abraham, while Arabs –” the children of Ishmael –” are a better claimant to that promise. [21]

As an expansionist entity, Israel has never, in its past 60 years, defined its border. It was as if the Zionist leaders were applying the Biblical verse to the letter: "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that I have given unto you, as I said unto Moses." (Joshua 1:3) As has been duly recognized by experts like Roger Garaudy, this is the conception of Eretz (Greater) Israel, the permanent objective of political Zionism. [22] Moshe Dayan declared in July 1968, "During the last hundred years our people have been in a process of building up the country and the nation, of expansion, of getting additional Jews and additional settlements in order to expand the borders here. Let no Jew say that the process has ended. Let no Jew say that are near the end of the road." In 1972, Golda Meir, replied to a question on territorial needs for Israel’s security, "There must be changes in the border. We want changes in borders, on all our borders, for security’s sake."

This notion of Israeli expansionism (Eretz Israel) has never left the Zionist leaders –” from Ben-Gurion to today’s Netanyahu. Gen. (Reserve) Shlomo Gazit who was the President of the Ben-Gurion University explained this concept in 1982, "The first objective is to ensure that historic Eretz Israel is not partitioned again … The second objective is to ensure that historic Eretz Israel will remain entirely under Jewish control and, moreover, that it will remain a basically Jewish state. The third objective is a full solution to the problem of Arabs of historic Eretz Israel … The solution for them must be found outside historic Eretz Israel." [23] Nor should we be surprised to hear the same solution repeated some 27 years later from the same university campus by Netanyahu in his June 14, 2009 speech. [24]

Settlements and outposts are means to solidify expansion. In 1948 there were 2,810 Jews that lived in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza. After annexation of these territories, including the Golan Heights in 1967, the Jewish population grew to 10,608 in 1972. [25] By 1993, Israel had constructed more than 145 settlements where some 196,000 Jews were settled by confiscating Arab land. [26] Half of the settlers lived in ten settlements around East Jerusalem. By the end of the year 2000, Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza numbered 225,000. [27] More than 2,500 houses and 52 settlement outposts were constructed just between September 2000 and January 2003. [28] In January 2009, Israeli political activist group Peace Now stated that settlement construction rose by 60 percent from 2007 to 2008. [29] According to Knesset Member Yaakov Katz, head of the National Union party, currently, there are some 650,000 settlers in the Occupied Territories of which some 300,000 live around East Jerusalem. [30] As noted by the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, a classified Israeli Government database, recorded that many West Bank Israeli settlements were built on land privately owned by Palestinian citizens without compensation. [31] Through the enactment of the 1950 Absentee Property Law, Israel has given a legal basis for continued expropriation of land in East Jerusalem (annexed in 1967) owned by Palestinians who live elsewhere (usually in the West Bank) without compensation. The Palestinians owners cannot "transfer, sell or lease any real estate property". [32]

As a settler state, situated in a semi-arid area, Israel has built most of its settlements over Palestinian aquifers so that it can have full control of its consumption for economic development, and meeting water needs of the settler Jews. [33] After the occupation of the Golan Heights, West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip in 1967, Israel began taking control of all water resources. According to Palestinian researcher Abu Kishek, as noted in the IMEMC news report (January 8, 2007), Israel controls 80 percent of Palestinian water resources threatening Arab water security. Since 1949, water has assumed top priority for Israel, which worked to gain control of the groundwater and surface water in the Jordan River basin, threatening the most fertile agricultural area. Israel has dug 500 water devices along the boundary of the West Bank, while along the northern edge of the Gaza Strip Israeli pumps operate 18 hours per day. [34]

The Israeli government denies permits to Palestinians to dig new wells on their own land while inside Israeli settlements water drilling continues. The Israeli aim is to drive the Palestinians out of their territory, so water is used as an effective weapon of war against indigenous Palestinians. Once a well is dry and with no new permits to drill a new one, they are left with no option but to move away.

Settlements are built on less than three percent of the area of the West Bank. However, due to the extensive network of settler roads and restrictions on Palestinians accessing their own land, Israeli settlements dominate more than 40 percent of the West Bank. [35] As former President Carter has observed from his trips to Israel, there is a zone with a radius of about four hundred meters around each settlement within which Palestinians cannot enter. In addition, there are other large areas that would have been taken or earmarked to be used exclusively by Israel, roadways that connect the settlements to one another and to Jerusalem, and "life arteries" that provide the settlers with water, sewage, electricity, and communications. These range in width from 500 to 4000 meters, and Palestinians cannot use or cross many of these connecting links. This honeycomb of settlements and their interconnecting conduits effectively divide the West Bank into at least two noncontiguous areas and multiply fragments, often uninhabitable or even unreachable, and control of the Jordan River valley denies Palestinians any direct access eastward into Jordan. About 100 military checkpoints completely surround the Occupied Palestinian Territories and block routes going into or between Palestinian communities, combined with an uncountable number of other roads that are permanently closed with larger concrete cubes or mounds of earth and rocks. [36]

These settlements are, in essence, responsible for bantustanization of the Palestinian territories. President Carter observed, "There has been a determined and remarkably effective effort to isolate settlers from Palestinians, so that a Jewish family can commute from Jerusalem to their highly subsidized home deep in the West Bank on roads from which others are excluded, without ever coming in contact with any facet of Arab life." [37] According to Dr. Farsakh, "By institutionalizing the societal separation and territorial integration that Israel created between 1967 and 1993, the Oslo process has prepared for the bantustanization of the WBGS (West Bank and Gaza Strip), transforming the Palestinian territories into fragmented population reserves, neither sustainable economically nor sovereign politically."

The UN Security Council Resolution 465, unanimously adopted in 1980, made it clear that "Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants" in the Occupied Territories constitutes "a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East". The Security Council called upon Israel to "dismantle the existing settlements and in particular to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction or planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem". The World Court [38] and European Union have deemed both the official settlements and the outposts to be illegal under international laws, including the Geneva Conventions, which set out the basis for international humanitarian law. [39] In September 2006, Olmert authorized construction bids for another 690 homes in the occupied West Bank. [40] A total of 9,000 further housing units have been approved in East Jerusalem, and approximately 2,600 new housing units are being built east of the original Green Line, comprising 55% of all settlement construction activity. [41] The current government of Netanyahu is committed to building more settlements.

As to the reality of settlements in the West Bank, former President Carter observes, "It is obvious that the Palestinians will be left with no territory to establish a viable state, but completely enclosed within the barrier and the occupied Jordan River valley. The Palestinians will have a future impossible for them or any responsible portion of the international community to accept, and as Israel’s permanent status will be increasingly troubled and uncertain as deprived people fight oppression and the relative number of Jewish citizens decreases demographically (compared to Arabs) both within Israel and Palestine." [42]

The Apartheid Wall (Segregation Fence):

When Sharon took power in 2001, to him, a worthy heir of David Ben-Gurion and Zeev Jabotinsky, the 1948 war of independence wasn’t finished. [43] He spent the next two years by resuming complete control of the West Bank. But, as Dominique Vidal has pointed out elsewhere, that was not enough. He faced a major challenge –” demographic, which said that Palestinian population would soon outnumber the Jewish population. He had two solutions –” expel all the Palestinians or allow the creation of a Palestinian state. He rejected the second choice and recognized that the first one was impractical to carry out. So he came up with a third option that involved erection of a segregation wall that would allow Israel to annex the remaining half of the West Bank, in particular the blocs where 80% of the settlers live. [44] The Wall, at least 3.5 times Israel’s international recognized border, not only separated Jews physically from Palestinians but also divided Palestinian villages separating them from each other, and separated Palestinian farmers from their own fields. [45] The other major impacts on the indigenous people include loss of land, increased difficulty in accessing medical services in Israel, restricted access to water sources, and adverse economic effects.

The route of the Wall in the West Bank was set to take the Palestinian water supply into Israeli boundaries, in addition to what is already taken by the Israeli settlements inside the West Bank. Thus, as much as the Israeli government has managed to control the continuity of its landmass from those within the pre-1967 border to those settlements and outposts located deep inside the WBGS via the connecting roads, it is clear that it has also been able to control and connect all its water resources in the Occupied Territories. [46]

On 20 July 2004, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the barrier with 150 countries voting for the resolution with only six countries opposing. Earlier, in July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice determined that the wall was illegal and called on Israel to cease construction of the wall, to dismantle what has already been built in areas beyond Israel’s international recognized border, and to compensate Palestinians who have suffered as a result of the wall’s construction. [47]

Life within Palestinian Bantustans:

Israelis, irrespective of whether they are nominal civilians or military personnel, impose exodus upon the Palestinian population through harassment, whose ultimate goal is expulsion of the natives. As hinted earlier, access to water, e.g., remains a persistent issue. Each Israeli settler uses five times as much water as a Palestinian neighbor, who must pay four times as much per gallon. There are Israeli swimming pools adjacent to Palestinian villages where drinking water had to be hauled in on tanker trucks and dispensed by the bucketful. Most of the hilltop settlements are on small areas of land, so untreated sewage is discharged into the surrounding fields and villages. [48] Palestinian researchers have accused Israel of destroying large parts of the water utilities, such as the demolition of wells and the destruction of irrigation systems, reservoirs and water lines in the West Bank. Such crimes result in a major deficit in the underground reservoir, and the increasing suffering of the population for access to drinking water on a daily basis. Israel’s destruction of the water supply for many Palestinian cities added to the salt content of the well water in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which has also led to a decline in agricultural production.

As noted by Dr. Farsakh in her book – Palestinian Labour Migration to Israel: Labour, land and occupation, the West Bank aquifers and water from the Jordan River produced a total of 1.9 billion cubic meters of water per year, which is 70% of total water resources available in the pre-1967 Israel and the WBGS. The denial and limited supply of this water to the indigenous Palestinians is criminal to the core. It is reducing farmers to beggars and strangulating Palestinian economy forcing the emergence of a captive labor force for the Israeli colonial settler state. According to Farsakh, "The release of labor from the Palestinian economy is affected through four main channels: land expropriation, extraction and control of water resources, industrial and economic policy that handicaps the development of productive local employment; and transformation of the Palestinian into a captive market for Israeli goods." [49]

Palestinians are deprived of their most basic human rights. They have little freedom of movement or independent activity. [50] Any demonstration against Israeli abuses results in mass arrests of Palestinians, including children throwing stones, bystanders who are not involved, families of protesters, and those known to make disparaging statements about the occupation. Once incarcerated, they have little hope for a fair trial and often have no access to their families or legal counsel. Most of these cases are tried in military tribunals, but 90% of the inmates are being held in civilian jails. One of the attorneys told former President Carter, "Here there is one system under civil judges and another under the military. Most of our cases, no matter what the subject might be, fall under the military. They are our accusers, judges, and juries, and they all seem the same to us." [51]

From September 2000 until March 2006, 3,982 Palestinians and 1,084 Israelis were killed in the second Intifada and these numbers include many children: 708 Palestinians and 123 Israelis. [52] During the Israel-Lebanon conflict of 2006, while world’s attention was in Lebanon, Israeli forces killed more than 200 Palestinians, 44 of them children, in Gaza. [53] During its December 2008-January 2009 war on the Gaza Strip alone, Israel killed nearly 1,200 Palestinian non-combatants. [54]

The Oslo Peace was supposed to let Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to control most of the West Bank by 1996. Instead, by July 2000 it had jurisdiction over only 19%, or less, of the West Bank.

In a recent article, dated June 10, 2009, Stephanie Westbrook of the U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice in Rome, Italy, wrote, "Not only are Palestinians restricted in their movement in and out of Gaza, but also within. In late May, Israel began dropping thousands of leaflets near the border areas warning the people of Gaza not to come within 300 meters of the border or they would be fired upon. Farmers are forced to risk their lives in order to work their fields that fate has placed too close to the border. The same restrictions are imposed on Palestinian fishermen. The sound of shots pierce the silence nightly, as Israeli gunboats fire on fishing boats that dare to venture far enough away from the shore in order to catch fish to sell and provide a living for their families. These are the absurdities that have become the norm in Gaza. But perhaps most absurd of all is how anyone can believe that Israel’s severity in the closures, the destruction of the economy and social fabric of the Gaza Strip, will serve to convince Palestinians to place their trust in international law." [55]

John Pilger, the award-winning journalist and documentary film maker, writes, "At 7.30 in the morning on 3 June, a seven-month-old baby died in the intensive care unit of the European Gaza Hospital in the Gaza Strip. His name was Zein Ad-Din Mohammed Zu’rob, and he was suffering from a lung infection which was treatable. Denied basic equipment, the doctors in Gaza could do nothing. For weeks, the child’s parents had sought a permit from the Israelis to allow them to take him to a hospital in Jerusalem, where he would have been saved. Like many desperately sick people who apply for these permits, the parents were told they had never applied. Even if they had arrived at the Erez Crossing with an Israeli document in their hands, the odds are that they would have been turned back for refusing the demands of officials to spy or collaborate in some way." [56] This happened just the day before Obama’s historic speech in Cairo.

Truly, in the 21st century, there is hardly a place more closely resembling Bantustan of the South African apartheid days than Gaza. In 1948 there were 90,000 natives in Gaza. The population more than tripled by 1967, and there are now more than 1.4 million –” 4,118 people living per sq. km, making it one of the most densely populated places in our planet. There, before Sharon’s plan for disengagement in June 2004, 8,000 Israeli settlers (comprising 0.6% of the overall population) were controlling 40% of the arable land and more than one-half the water resources. These settlers were defended by 12,000 Israeli troops. [57] Israel does not allow air and sea transportation from Gaza. In his fact finding mission there, President Carter observed that fishermen were not allowed to leave the harbor, workers were prevented form going to outside jobs, the import or export of food and other goods was severely restricted and often cut off completely and the police, teachers, nurses, and social workers were deprived of salaries. Per capita income decreased 40% during 2004-06, and poverty rate reached 70%. This was the situation before reinvasion of Gaza in July 2006. [58]

When asked, "Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with [the] criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity?" Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University, who is Jewish, replied, "I think not." [59]


International human rights organizations estimate that since 1967 more than 630,000 Palestinians (about 20%) of the total population) in the occupied territories have been detained at some time by the Israelis. In addition to time in jail, the pre-trial periods can be quite lengthy. Palestinian detainees can be interrogated under special laws for a total of 180 days and denied lawyer visits for intervals of 90 days. Accused persons are usually in military courts in the West Bank, and incarcerated in prisons inside Israel, in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention. [60]

Like South Africa, Israel has her version of Robben Island. It is Facility 1391. It is not marked on maps, it has been erased from aerial photographs and recently its numbered signpost was removed. Censors have excised all mention of its location from the Israeli media, with the government saying that secrecy is essential to "prevent harm to the country’s security". As a newspaper described it, Facility 1391 is "Israel’s Guantanamo". Outside a few senior Israeli government and security officials no one knows how many inmates there are in Facility 1391. Testimonies from former inmates suggest it is crowded with detainees, many of them Lebanese captured during Israel’s 18-year occupation of south Lebanon. What little information is available suggests that interrogation methods using torture are routine. A high-profile detainee, Mustafa Dirani of the now defunct Lebanese Shia militia Amal, has alleged that he was raped by his interrogators. [61]

The Permit System:

Israel introduced the permit system and fragmented the WBGS territorially in order to control the al-Aqsa intifada. In April 2002 Israel declared that the WBGS would be cut into eight main areas, outside which Palestinians could not live without a permit. Dr. Farsakh finds that by institutionalizing the permit and closure system, Israel imposed on Palestinians similar conditions to those faced by blacks in South Africa under the pass laws. Although the pass system in South Africa was created to ensure the control and supply of cheap labor, while in the WBGS it was introduced for security reasons, the consequences were the same. [62]


Nearly half a century ago, a South African newspaper Die Transvaler that covered matters of apartheid had this to say: "Is there any real difference between the way that the people of Israel are trying to maintain themselves amid non-Jewish peoples and the way the Afrikaner is trying to remain what he is?" [63] The then Prime Minister Verwoerd’s answer is quite revealing: "Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that I agree with them. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state." [64]

From the brief analysis above, it is obvious that despite their initial differences, the Zionist state of Israel and the apartheid South Africa have become similar since June 1967, and especially so with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. [65] As a matter of fact, the Israeli apartheid state is more dangerous and more racist than the Apartheid regime ever was in South Africa. The Palestinian bantustans are of course neither as clearly defined nor as large as those of South Africa. Thanks to influx of some quarter million Jewish workers from outside, Israel has less need of the Palestinian labor force. As Dr. Farsakh has rightly recognized, if the current situation continues, the two-state solution is in peril. The disappearance of that option would definitely condemn Israel to being an apartheid and bi-national state, unless it embarks on a massive program of population transfer. [66]

The Zionist settler leaders know it very well that they are running out of options. The settlements and segregation wall that they built to grab Palestinian land in the West Bank are illegal per international laws. There is no denying that Israel has always put confiscation of Palestinian land ahead of peace. Back in the Bush Sr. era, such land-grabbing provoked an official White House statement: "The United States has opposed, and will continue to oppose, settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967, which remain an obstacle to peace." From the State Department, Secretary Baker added, "I don’t think there is any greater obstacle to peace than settlement activity that continues not only unabated but at an advanced pace." [67] The US government, in spite of being Israel’s most trusted ally, has consistently maintained that settlements are illegal. That position has not changed with the current Obama Administration either, which already has advised Netanyahu to stop all settlement activities in the Occupied Territories.

Given the kind of sympathy Israel enjoys amongst the Christians because of their collective guilt for causing the Jewish Holocaust, and afraid of being dumped as anti-Semites for speaking out against Zionist savagery that is responsible for on-going Palestinian Holocaust since 1948, it is going to be very difficult to dismantle the apartheid character of Israel. Nor should we forget that while the neocons were defeated in the 2008 election, they still wield enormous control in how American policy makers think and act. Many of the high-level advisers to the Obama Administration are pro-Israel Jewish hawks, whose unwavering allegiance to the pariah state in the past have only highlighted America’s hypocrisy and worsened her image abroad. The Amen Corner within the U.S. Congress is still willing to nod and dance with the Israeli tune and do bidding for the rogue state. Christian Zionism still raises much passion amongst intellectually disadvantaged Americans who are continuously mesmerized by radio junkies like Rush Limbaugh. [68] And, then, as rightly pointed out by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, there is the all-powerful Jewish Lobby and let’s not kid about their influence in the USA. [69] No politician in the USA today can afford to be viewed as anti-Israel.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that in his Fiscal Year 2010 budget, sent to the Congress in May, President Obama requested a near-record $2.2775 billion in military aid to Israel, which is an increase of $225 million in aid to Israel compared with this year’s budget. This increase in funding is quite interesting given the fact that the United States is currently in its gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression. [70] Lest we forget, according to Congressional Research Service, the United States has provided Israel with more than $100 billion in direct military and economic aid since 1949.

In a recent article John Chuckman writes, "Israel, it is a nation which has attacked every neighbor that it has, at one time or another. In the last two years alone, it has killed more people in Lebanon and Gaza than the number who perished in 9/11. It is also a secret nuclear power, having broken every rule and international law to obtain and assist in proliferating nuclear weapons." [71]

Israel killed more than 3,000 innocent Palestinian civilians, which included more than 1,000 children, often with U.S. weapons, during the George W. Bush Administration. [72] Yet the State Department did not notify Congress even once that Israel had violated these laws which are supposed to sanction countries that commit human rights abuses with U.S. weapons.

On July 1, Israel committed an act of piracy by kidnapping 21 human rights activists and journalists in international waters who were sailing on the Free Gaza Movement boat "Spirit of Humanity" and who had hoped to deliver badly-needed humanitarian supplies to the besieged and collectively-punished people of the Gaza Strip. These 21 people included former Representative Cynthia McKinney. Lest we forget, Israeli authorities have no jurisdiction to arrest them in international waters. [73] As I write this essay, Ms. McKinney has still not been released by the Israeli government. I am not sure if Secretary Clinton or her staffs are doing anything to see the former Congresswoman released. [74]

As I have noted many times, the Zionist state possesses no legitimacy whatsoever –” Biblical, moral, historical and juridical –” to have been established as a state in historical Palestine. Much in common to the wishes of its ideologue Theodor Herzl, Israel has remained a rampart of the West. Its behavior is that of a settler apartheid state that is continuously at war with its natives and is bent upon dehumanizing them. And its Zionist leaders know its evil character too well. Thus, it wants to force the robbed and maimed Palestinians into recognizing the rogue state of Israel unconditionally. For the Palestinian leadership that would be like writing its own suicide note with a gun pointed to the head!

Can a workable solution be still found that allows the Jews and Palestinian Muslims and Christians to live as equals in the same land? As common sense dictates even a bastard child born of gang rape does not deserve to be killed.

For too long the Zionists have said that it is impossible to share the territory with the Arabs who want to "drive them into the sea." We know better. It is a filthy lie. If past behavior is any guide, we can safely conclude that it is these settler Zionists who are actually drowning the Palestinians. In a meeting with President Carter in 1990 Chairman Arafat said, "The PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel. The Zionists started the ‘drive the Jews into the sea’ slogan and attributed it to the PLO. In 1969 we said we wanted to establish a democratic state where Jews, Christians and Muslims can all live together. The Zionists said they do not choose to live with any people other than Jews… We said to the Zionist Jews, all right, if you do not want a secular, democratic state for all of us, then we will take another route. In 1974 I said we are ready to establish our independent state in any part from which Israel will withdraw." [75]

As noted by experts like Roger Garaudy and others, the solution to the Palestinian-Israeli problem can come only from the international community. [76] The solution must be as fair as possible given the level of injustice already inflicted upon the native Palestinian people in the last 62 years. Given the birth of the bastard state of Israel that the UN itself sanctioned, it would be unfair, although not unjust, today for the Palestinians to claim territorial rights over the entire Palestine. Its own leadership has duly recognized the complexity of the problem and has therefore compromised showing willingness to accept the truncated territories based on the pre-1967 border. The Arab proposal put forth in the last few decades has also echoed the same sentiment. The objection thus far has come only from the Zionist expansionists who still are locked in their unfounded myths. If they are wise and prudent, they must change that poisonous mindset, shun their violent means to subdue the native population and let the Palestinians live freely and securely without being violated. The world community, including the Arab League, will ensure the security of the Israeli state within the pre-1967 border.

As the most powerful nation on earth and Israel’s greatest benefactor, the United States has a very critical role to play in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis. America needs to take a bold stand that is moral, just and fair. She cannot afford to have her national interest mortgaged to Israel or to her pro-Israel lobby within. As Professors Mearsheimer and Walt had said, "Powerful states can maintain flawed policies for quite some time, but reality cannot be ignored for ever. What is needed is a candid discussion of the Lobby’s influence and a more open debate about US interests in this vital region. Israel’s well-being is one of those interests, but its continued occupation of the West Bank and its broader regional agenda are not. Open debate will expose the limits of the strategic and moral case for one-sided US support and could move the US to a position more consistent with its own national interest, with the interests of the other states in the region, and with Israel’s long-term interests as well." [77]

The Israeli leaders must answer this existential question now: what is better – the prevalent apartheid character of the Israeli state or a peaceful solution with the native Palestinians that allows them to live in peace with their neighbors within the pre-1967 border? Before answering this crucial question, they may like to reflect that the days of Bantustan are over. It did not work in South Africa and it won’t work in today’s Israel. Israel gains more from a Palestinian state than without, and surely not with its horrible apartheid apparatus intact.

The Israeli leaders may also like to listen to former President Carter who said, "Peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law… It will be a tragedy –” for the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the world –” if peace is rejected and a system of oppression, apartheid, and sustained violence is permitted to prevail." [78]


[1]. Columbia Encyclopedia,


[3]. Ibid., Britannica Concise Encyclopedia.

[4]. Ibid., Columbia Encyclopedia.


[6]. Theodor Herzl, Complete Diaries, London, 1960, vol. 3, p. 1194.

[7]. Roger Garaudy, The Case of Israel, Shorouk (UK), 1983, p. 94.

[8]. Ibid., p. 94

[9]. In those days only a few states belonged to the UN. The countries that accepted the Partition Plan were former colonial countries and their client states, which included: Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussian SSR, Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Sweden, South Africa, Ukrainian SSR, United States of America, Soviet Union, Uruguay, Venezuela, Haiti, Liberia and Philippines. 23 countries voted against, 10 countries abstained from voting, and 1 was absent from voting.

[10]. See this author’s article: Netanyahu’s Doublespeak: Can He be Restrained?

[11]. Menachem Begin, The Revolt, 1978, p. 412.

[12]. Garaudy, op. cit., p. 50.

[13]. Professor Israel Shahak in 1975 gave a district-by-district list of 385 villages which were bulldozed by Israel. For details, see this author’s article: Netanyahu’s Doublespeak: Can He be Restrained?

[14]. Garaudy, op. cit., p. 98.

[15]. Statistical Abstract of Israel, Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Jerusalem, 2002; as quoted by Leila Farsakh, Israel: an apartheid state? Le Monde Diplomatique, Nov. 2003:


[17]. Ha’aretz, 21 May, 1979.

[18]. "We feel it’s very important to possess the land, physically, and create these physical facts on the ground by buying the land, by settling Jews in this area, to make sure that this area is secured to the Jewish people and the state of Israel for ever," says Chaim Silberstein, the president of the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. Al-Jazeera, June 24, 2009:

[19]. Farsakh, Israel: an apartheid state? op. cit.

[20]. David Ben-Gurion, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel, New York, 1954, p. 419.

[21]. See this author’s article: The Case of Jerusalem,
asp?cat=3&id=806; see also Kais al-Kalbi’s book: Prophet Muhammad –” the last Messenger in the Bible for a thorough discussion on the subject of God’s promise to Abraham.

[22]. Garaudy, op. cit., p. 132.

[23]. Yediot Aharonot, 15 January 1982.

[24]. See this author’s article: Netanyahu’s doublespeak: Can he be restrained?


[26]. There are at least another 100 illegal settlements in the West Bank;

[27]. Jimmy Carter, Palestine Peace and Not Apartheid, Simon & Schuster.


[29]. In January 2009, Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group which monitors settlement activity, published a leak report that suggested 75 per cent of West Bank settlements were constructed without proper permits.

[30]. Knesset Member Yaakov Katz, head of the National Union party, a right wing party said recently, "In the Jerusalem neighborhoods that were liberated in 1967, we have close to 300,000 Jews, and we have another 350,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria;


[31]. "Group: Settlement info implicates Israeli gov’t", by Matti Friedman, Associated Press, January 30, 2009.


[33]. For an understanding of the Israeli position on water, see Mitchell Bard, Israel’s Water War, Jewish World,



[36]. Carter, op. cit., pp. 151-2.

[37]. Carter, op. cit., p. 190.

[38]. The 2004 ruling of the International Court of Justice in The Hague declared that "Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to eco-nomic and social development".

[39]. Article 49, paragraph 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly stipulates that "the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies".

[40]. Carter, op. cit., p. 202.


[42]. Carter, op. cit., p. 196.

[43]. Haaretz, Tel Aviv, 12 April 2001.

[44]. Dominique Vidal, Israel: Sharon the Blessed, Le Monde Diplomatique, Feb. 2006,

[45]. Carter, op. cit., pp. 189-194.

[46]. Leila Farsakh, Palestinian Labour Migration to Israel: Labour, land and occupation. Routledge.

[47]. Carter, op. cit., pp. 193-4.

[48]. Carter, op. cit., p. 121.

[49]. Leila Farsakh, Palestinian Labour Migration to Israel: Labour, land and occupation. Routledge, p. 225.

[50]. Carter, op. cit., p. 170.

[51]. Carter, op. cit., pp. 118-9.

[52]. Carter, op. cit., p. 206.

[53]. Carter, op. cit., p. 200.




[57]. Carter, op. cit., p. 168.

[58]. Carter, op. cit., pp. 175-6.


[60]. Carter, op. cit., pp. 196-7.

[61]. Jonathan Cook,


[63]. As quoted by Garaudy, op. cit., p. 107.

[64]. Rand Daily Mail, 23 Nov. 1961; as quoted in Garaudy, op. cit., p. 108.



[67]. Carter, op. cit., pp. 131-2.

[68]. See this author’s article: Obama and his conservative critics in the media,







[75]. Carter, op. cit., p. 62.

[76]. See, e.g., Garaudy, op. cit., pp. 157-162.

[77]. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, op. cit.

[78]. Carter, op. cit., p. 216.