In 2017 the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) issued a report that concluded “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.” The US and Israel continue to deny the veracity of this report but one has only to examine the more recent citizenship inequality, nationality inequality, marriage inequality, legal inequality and residential inequality to see its accuracy. The predictable Palestinian struggle to reverse these inequalities is seen as subversive by the Israeli’s ever increasingly rightwing governments.
On 18 July 2018 the Israeli Knesset enacted a “Nation-State” Law that defines the State of Israel as the nation-state “of the Jewish people only.” In other words, only Jews can hold “nationality rights” in Israel.
According to the Jewish intellectual Hanna Arendt, “If a state decides that for racial, ethnic, religious or any other reason, only one portion of its population is worthy of first-class citizenship, it can proceed to deny to all those who do not qualify any and all rights. This is what the Nazis did to the Jews.”
Amira Hass, the Haaretz journalist and daughter of holocaust survivors, added:
“The current reality in Israel is actually one state, which is an apartheid state. This means there are two separate laws: one for Palestinians and one for Israeli Jews. The Palestinian population is subdivided into groups and subgroups like the non-white population of former apartheid South Africa. They’re disconnected from each other. They are treated differently by Israel, while Israeli Jews live in the entire country, like one people, with full rights.”
Haas goes on to say that the apartheid nature of Israel is a developmental plan of the state. It’s main goal is “to get more land, and to manipulate the Palestinian demography… You can actually see that this is really a plan. Israeli leaders sit and they think about how to implement it, and what regulations will achieve this goal… One by one, step by step. For Israel, this is the desired reality: that Palestinians live in their enclaves, deprived of any ability to develop their economy, and that the world gives them donations so that they can sustain themselves. And that’s it. There is no desire on the part of Israel to reach a different reality.”
After seventy years, one can only conclude that Israeli apartheid will continue for years to come because most of the world’s governments allow it to happen. Can this reality change? Yes, but it will take the world body to stand up to Israeli claims of antisemitism anytime anyone criticizes its actions. Palestinians are like the Jews in any number of anti-Semitic historical circumstances, a fact that seems to have escaped modern-day Israelis.
All of Cathy Sultan’s books including Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides, are available on Amazon.