Calling the Thing by its Proper Name: “Apartheid” Between the Jordan River & the Mediterranean Sea

Jan 21 2021


The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) invites you to attend

Calling the Thing by its Proper Name: “Apartheid” Between the Jordan River & the Mediterranean Sea

Thursday, January 21, 2021


Hagai El-Ad (B’Tselem)

Nathan Thrall (Author, journalist)

Sawsan Zaher (Adalah Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel)


Lara Friedman (Foundation for Middle East Peace)

It has long been debated whether the term “Apartheid” has a place in discussion of Israel’s rule over Palestinians on one side of the Green Line – or both. While many Palestinian analysts and activists have for decades used Black South Africans’ struggles against apartheid as a legal and moral touchstone in their challenges to Israeli policies, defenders of Israel have long rejected this framing as inaccurate and irrelevant to the Israeli context, attacking those using the term “Apartheid” – even with respect to only the situation in the Occupied Territories – as anti-Israel and even antisemitic. 

Is it time to recognize Israel – on both sides of the Green Line – as an apartheid state?  With the occupation – and the separate-and-unequal regimes it involves – now in its 54th year, and with the 28 year-old peace process paradigm and its two-state solution rendered obsolete by Israeli facts on the ground (established expressly for that purpose), and with the Nation-State law codifying discrimination against Palestinians as a constitutional principle of the state of Israel, the question has salience today, both with respect to injecting honesty into the discussion around Israel-Palestine and to injecting energy, focus, and urgency into the fight for justice, human rights, freedom, and peace.

To discuss this question, FMEP is proud to host Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of Israel’s premier human rights organization B’tselem, which recently published a ground-breaking paper entitled, “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid;Sawsan Zaher, Deputy General Director of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and who was part of Adalah’s legal team presenting oral arguments before the Israeli High Court of Justice in the petition against the Nation-State Law; and Nathan Thrall, an author and journalist who recently published an essay entitled, “The Separate Regimes Delusion.” 

Resources shared in this webinar:

Follow our panelists on Twitter and online: 

B’Tselem’s resources: 

Palestinian responses to the B’Tselem publication: 

Discussions of B’Tselem’s publication on apartheid: 

From Adalah: 

From Nathan Thrall: 

On antisemitism and apartheid: 


Hagai El-Ad is the executive director of B’Tselem בצלם بتسيلم, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Previously he was director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI, 2008–2014) and the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH, 2000–2006). In 2014, El-Ad was among Foreign Policy’s “100 Leading Global Thinkers.” In 2016 and again in 2018, he spoke before the United Nations Security Council calling for international action in order to end the occupation. He lives in Jerusalem and tweets at @HagaiElAd.

Sawsan Zaher is a Palestinian feminist and human rights lawyer, based in Haifa, Israel. She is the Deputy General Director and senior litigator at Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. She has litigated several landmark cases before the Israeli Supreme Court challenging discriminatory laws and policies against Palestinians including the recent Jewish Nation State Basic Law. She was selected as a Young Global Leader (2015); a Yale World Fellow (2013); a fellow at the Women in Public Service Project at Wellesley College, M.A., (2012); and a Fellow of the Public Law Program in the Public Interest Law Institute in Colombia University, NYC (2008). 

Nathan Thrall is the author of The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine (Metropolitan/Henry Holt). He is a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, the London Review of Books, and The New York Review of Books. His writing has also appeared in GQ, The Guardian Long Read, The New Republic, and The New York Times, and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. He is the former Director of the Arab-Israeli Project at the International Crisis Group, where he spent a decade covering Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel’s relations with its neighbors, from 2010 to 2020. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three daughters.


Lara Friedman is the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) and a leading authority on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with particular expertise on the Israeli-Arab conflict, Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, and the role of the U.S. Congress. She is published widely in the U.S. and international press and is regularly consulted by members of Congress and their staffs, by Washington-based diplomats, by policy-makers in capitals around the world, and by journalists in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to her work at FMEP, Lara is a Contributing Writer at Jewish Currents and a non-resident fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP).