B'Tselem: "This is Apartheid"
“A regime that uses laws, practices and organized violence to cement the supremacy of one group over another is an apartheid regime. Israeli apartheid, which promotes the supremacy of Jews over Palestinians, was not born in one day or of a single speech. It is a process that has gradually grown more institutionalized and explicit, with mechanisms introduced over time in law and practice to promote Jewish supremacy. These accumulated measures, their pervasiveness in legislation and political practice, and the public and judicial support they receive – all form the basis for our conclusion that the bar for labeling the Israeli regime as apartheid has been met. If this regime has developed over many years, why release this paper in 2021? What has changed? Recent years have seen a rise in the motivation and willingness of Israeli officials and institutions to enshrine Jewish supremacy in law and openly state their intentions. The enactment of Basic Law: Israel – the Nation State of the Jewish People and the declared plan to formally annex parts of the West Bank have shattered the façade Israel worked for years to maintain.”
In this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” host Peter Beinart is joined by Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, to discuss B’Tselem’s new report, “A Regime of Jewish Supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid.” Unlike frameworks that see the state of Israel as separate from the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem argues that there is a single Israeli regime in both the Occupied Territories and Israel: an Apartheid regime, organized to advance one group, Jews, over another, Palestinians.
“Although there is demographic parity between the two peoples living here, life is managed so that only one half enjoy the vast majority of political power, land resources, rights, freedoms and protections. It is quite a feat to maintain such disfranchisement. Even more so, to successfully market it as a democracy (inside the “green line” – the 1949 armistice line), one to which a temporary occupation is attached. In fact, one government rules everyone and everything between the river and the sea, following the same organising principle everywhere under its control, working to advance and perpetuate the supremacy of one group of people – Jews – over another – Palestinians. This is apartheid. There is not a single square inch in the territory Israel controls where a Palestinian and a Jew are equal. The only first-class people here are Jewish citizens such as myself, and we enjoy this status both inside the 1967 lines and beyond them, in the West Bank. Separated by the different personal statuses allotted to them, and by the many variations of inferiority Israel subjects them to, Palestinians living under Israel’s rule are united by all being unequal.
“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…B’Tselem’s position does not seek to erase the existing differences between the realities of life in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and Palestinian cities inside Israel. Rather, it seeks to place them in the broader context that Israel constantly tries to hide: in all these places, Israel is the de facto sovereign, and in each one, in various forms, it imposes a regime of Jewish supremacy…With that, B’Tselem invites the Israeli public and the international community to look at our reality with courage, to internalize its full meaning, and to work to create a different future based on full and equal human rights for all the inhabitants of the country.”
“A leading Israeli human rights group has begun describing both Israel and its control of the Palestinian territories as a single “apartheid” regime, using an explosive term that the country’s leaders and their supporters vehemently reject. In a report released Tuesday, B’Tselem says that while Palestinians live under different forms of Israeli control in the occupied West Bank, blockaded Gaza, annexed east Jerusalem and within Israel itself, they have fewer rights than Jews in the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. “One of the key points in our analysis is that this is a single geopolitical area ruled by one government,” said B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad. “This is not democracy plus occupation. This is apartheid between the river and the sea.” That a respected Israeli organization is adopting a term long seen as taboo even by many critics of Israel points to a broader shift in the debate as its half-century occupation of war-won lands drags on and hopes for a two-state solution fade.”
- “Leading human rights group calls Israel an ‘apartheid’ state” (Associated Press)
- “‘This is apartheid’: Rights group slams Israeli rule” (Al Jazeera)
- “Israeli human rights group brands country ‘apartheid’ state” (Ynet)
- “Israel is an ‘apartheid’ state, says the country’s leading human rights group” (Middle East Eye)
“A Defense Ministry panel will approve plans for over 800 new settler homes days before Joe Biden is sworn as the new US president, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, confirming an earlier report. At a meeting next week, the Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee will approve the construction of 500 housing units in the West Bank settlements of Itamar, Beit El, Shavei Shomron, Oranit and Givat Ze’ev, the Kan public broadcaster reported.”
- “Israel Announces New Settlement Construction Days Before Biden Inauguration” (Haaretz)
- “Israel advances plans for 800 new settlement homes in West Bank” (Al-Monitor)
- “Netanyahu to advance plans for 800 settler homes prior to Biden” (Jerusalem Post)
- “Israel will OK over 800 new settlement homes during the week of Biden’s inauguration” (JTA)
“Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved a number of preliminary steps for Palestinian construction projects in the West Bank, his office said Monday, in an apparent effort to offset any potential blowback for his approval of some 800 housing units in Israeli settlements earlier in the day. The permits would legalize hundreds of Palestinian structures in Area C, which makes up some 60 percent of the West Bank and is under fully Israeli security and administrative control. Israel rarely approves Palestinian construction in Area C, with the overwhelming majority of requests being denied…Gantz’s office announced he had approved the submission of plans for the expansion of the village of al-Walaja in the southern West Bank, the expansion of the village of Hizma outside Jerusalem, approval for plans for a hotel in the Bethlehem area, a hearing regarding the submission of plans for a hotel in Beit Jala, and a hearing regarding retroactive approval for agricultural buildings in the area of al-Fara in the northern West Bank.
Alon Cohen-Lifshitz, a researcher at the left-wing Bimkom human rights group, which focuses on construction-related issues, told The Times of Israel that the approvals discussed by Gantz were woefully insufficient compared to the needs of Palestinians. “This is like mocking the poor,” he said. “Most of the plans are from 2012. They’re all very small in terms of their land use and do not allow for [further] development.”“
“According to Israeli defense officials, since Sandak’s death three weeks ago, there have been 27 reported instances of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, most of them stones thrown at cars with no casualties…Tawafsheh said he couldn’t recall such a long string of violent incidents by settlers since 2014, when three young men from the Gush Etzion settlement bloc were kidnapped and murdered. “It’s happening in Area C, it’s the place where the Israeli army and police are responsible; the Palestinian Authority can’t do anything there to help us. Every time the police say they will help but nothing actually happens,” he said.”
“The incident occurred when a group of settlers was blocking a road near the settlement of Kedumim in protest of the death of Ahuvia Sandak, a teenage settler who was killed last month during a car chase with the police after he and several other individuals were caught hurling rocks at Palestinian vehicles. Since Sandak’s death, protests, mainly of settlers and right-wing groups, flared up across Israel, demanding an investigation into the incident. Several of these demonstrations have turned violent, with protestors confronting security forces. Soldiers belonging to the Golani Brigade arrived at the scene to remove the settlers and open up the road. Several of the protestors refused to evacuate and the soldiers began to forcibly remove them from the area. One of the refusers turned violent and begin punching the brigade’s reconnaissance battalion commander, Lt. Col. Ayub Kayuf, several times. Yehuda Shimon, a 45-year-old lawyer and a father of 10, was detained and handed over to police along with several other protestors.” Also See – “Israeli injured by settlers throwing stones at Palestinians” (Ynet)
“The worshippers were caught by Palestinian Authority security forces and returned to Israel safely. This is the second time in a week that Jews were found at the tomb without prior coordination or a security escort.”
“A Palestinian man was arrested on Monday for attacking David Elhayani, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council and of Yesha Council, Walla reported.”
Two Notable Deaths
“Jewish-American billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a power broker and philanthropist known in his later years for his patronage of US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has died at the age of 87. Adelson, who owned the Las Vegas Sands gambling empire, died from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Sands and his wife, Miriam Adelson, announced Tuesday…
The super-donor, who also owned the influential Israel Hayom tabloid, rarely spoke publicly but in a 2016 Washington Post column endorsing Trump, he defended his right to opine…In his last years, Adelson’s influence over American and Israeli political life took an outsized turn with both Netanyahu and Trump in power. He was credited as the driving force behind Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem and exit the Iran nuclear deal…
During his presidency, Trump’s Israel policies recalled the right-wing views on the Jewish state favored by the Adelsons, and he awarded Miriam the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her medical philanthropy…
Last year, Adelson cemented the United States’ decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem with his purchase of the ambassador’s residence in Herzliya, making it harder for future presidents to reverse the move. At a cost of more than $67 million, the sprawling estate on the Mediterranean coast appears to be the most expensive single residence ever sold in Israel. Adelson also recently hit the headlines when convicted spy Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther flew to Israel on his private jet…When asked at a gambling conference what he hoped his legacy would be, Adelson said it wasn’t his glitzy casinos or hotels, it was his impact in Israel. He donated $25 million, a record sum for a private citizen, to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. He established a think tank in Jerusalem.
In the US, Adelson helped underwrite congressional trips to Israel, helped build a new headquarters for the lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and later was a top supporter of the Israeli-American Council, whose conferences have attracted top Republicans (Vice President Mike Pence) and Democrats (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi). He sponsored “Birthright” trips to Israel for young Jewish adults that were criticized by some participants as intolerant of opposing views. His attachment to Israel was life-long and so deep that he once said he wished his military service had been in an Israeli uniform instead of an American one…
Through the Adelson Family Foundation, Sheldon and Miriam donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable causes. The stated primary purpose of the foundation is “to strengthen the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”
They donated hundreds of millions to Birthright, which funds trips to Israel for young Jews from around the world, and donated to a new medical school in the West Bank settlement of Ariel and the founding of an addiction treatment clinic in Tel Aviv in 1993 and of the Las Vegas clinic seven years later, where it was said Miriam Adelson herself sometimes treats patients.”
“The hatred of Israeli settlers, as well as of police and soldiers for Ezra Nawi is a badge of honor for him; proof that he disturbed the order of Jewish supremacy, which the former represent and bolster, and the latter secure.
But Ezra did not defy this corrupt and corrupting order for the sake of honor, publicity or fame. Contempt for this order was part of his personality. His activism for the sake of human sanity was a natural part of his life, of his daily routine. To be more precise: He embodied sanity when, together with other activists from the Ta’ayush organization, he accompanied Palestinian shepherds that violent Jewish thugs were and are eyeing their land; when, alone, he entered a tent that the jaws of a Civil Administration bulldozer were preparing to crush; when he joined in restoration work on a road or water cistern in Palestinian communities that Israel seeks to destroy; when, helping a lawyer, he translated from Arabic to Hebrew the testimonies of Palestinian farmers who were being harassed; when he demonstrated in Sheikh Jarrah against the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes; and when he challenged the authority of armed soldiers and police officers.
In the name of sanity, he gave out colorful balloons to children in the South Hebron Hills communities, to put a smile on their faces – children who, since birth, had been harassed by the representatives and guards of the master order. And on Fridays, in an emotional, elegant and generous gesture, he would distribute roses to the Women in Black who, since the first intifada, have been protesting in Jerusalem’s Paris Square for justice for Palestinians.
He died Saturday morning. Last Wednesday, lying in bed at home, attached to an IV (he could no longer drink or swallow on his own), furious that he was reduced to such a condition (the brain tumor had returned), he said to me, struggling to speak: “I could have done much more.” His handshake was still warm and strong.”
Also See – “Radical Left-wing Activist Ezra Nawi Dies at 69” (Haaretz)
“Some 127,000 tests yield positivity rate of 7.6% as country also crosses threshold of half a million infections since start of outbreak; Health Ministry data shows areas with prominent Haredi population have seen highest infection rates in last seven days”
“The Palestinian Authority has reached agreements with four vaccine companies, which has included granting “emergency approval” for the Russian coronavirus vaccine to be administered in its territory, covering up to 70 percent of the population, Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said on Monday. Although Al-Kaila’s statement didn’t specify when the vaccines would arrive, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is responsible for marketing Sputnik V abroad, said the first shipment is expected to arrive next month, with all deliveries expected in the first quarter of this year.” Also See – “Palestinians say first vaccine shipment could arrive in March” (Ynet)
“Israelis age 50 and up will be eligible for coronavirus vaccinations through their health care providers starting Wednesday, the Health Ministry announced Tuesday, expanding its world-leading drive as nationwide COVID-19 infections reached a new peak. Those in the eligible group can begin booking appointments immediately, the ministry said…Despite the quick vaccine rollout, the country is also battling a resurgent third wave of the virus. The daily virus caseload reached its highest level ever Monday, with 9,613 new cases diagnosed, according to ministry figures released Tuesday morning. The number of positive virus tests climbed to 7.6% out of 126,717 tests returned Monday. There are 73,966 active patients in the country, of which 1,071 are in serious condition, ministry data showed. Since the start of the outbreak 504,888 people in the country have been diagnosed with the coronavirus with 3,723 fatalities. The government on Friday tightened a national lockdown, shuttering all schools except for special education institutes. Most stores and public venues have been ordered shut and movement is limited to one kilometer from home except for essential needs.”
“The US and UAE might finalize the first of several contracts on a controversial $23.3 billion arms package before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20, a top State Department official said today. “Everything’s in the trajectory for conclusion,” R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told reporters Friday. “The sales, of course, have been well put together by the interagency and have cleared our Congress as well.”…Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, told reporters in November the pending sale “is something we would look at very, very carefully, and make sure that the QME (Qualitative Military Edge) is preserved and also — very important — that Congress play a role.” Blinken met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the first time today, a State Department official confirmed.”
“The Samaria Regional Council began exporting settler products to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday with labels stating that Israel is the country of origin. A shipment of olive oil and honey from the Tura Winery in the Rehelim settlement and Paradise Honey in the Hermesh settlement will be exported.” Also See – “First delivery of Samaria goods shipped to UAE in wake of Abraham Accords” (JNS)
The Israeli Scene
Gantz: “I shook the hand of this man whom I pledged to replace, I shook the hand of a serial promise-breaker. I shook it because the State of Israel is at war and I am foremost its soldier. I was wrong. While a real and lethal pandemic is raging and threatening the lives of all of us, [Netanyahu] continued to divide and incite because it serves his personal interest and so he can escape his day in court.”
“Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Tuesday reached out again to Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, saying that he is not under the delusion that he will be premier after the March elections and that his former political partner can head up the bloc of parties opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I think we have a common goal. In the case of Lapid and myself, there are also many shared common values about the things we would like to achieve. The only place we would disagree was whether to enter the unity government. I believe it is possible to reach common agreements again,” Gantz said, a day after he admitted for the first time that he “was wrong” to have entered Netanyahu’s coalition earlier this year.”
“One day after calling for a broad, cross-party alliance to defeat Netanyahu, Kahol Lavan party leader Benny Gantz said Tuesday that current opposition leader and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid would be fitting to lead the bloc as the country heads into Knesset elections on March 23.“Yair has gone a very long way in Israeli politics, and he can head the bloc,” Gantz told Kan Reshet Bet public radio, “and if that’s what we decide, then [the answer is] yes.””
“The Yamina Party of Naftali Bennett and the Religious Zionist Party of Bezalel Smotrich appear to have cut ties on Monday night after negotiations to unite the parties did not bear fruit. Smotrich ran as part of Yamina in the last election. He told Channel 12 on Monday evening that “Naftali Bennett and I are splitting, each to his own path.”Yamina responded that “Smotrich chose tonight to split the Right.” The party wished him well.”
The Palestinian Scene
“While the Palestinian authority has refused to accept medical aid to combat the spread of the coronavirus from the United Arab Emirates, Hamas has in recent weeks allowed the Gulf state to send medical equipment to the Gaza Strip. The UAE aid to the Gaza Strip is being coordinated by deposed Fatah operative Mohammed Dahlan, an archrival of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Dahlan, who was born in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, moved to Abu Dhabi 10 years ago after a falling out with Abbas. He previously served as commander of the PA Preventive Security Force in the Gaza Strip. The medical supplies to the Gaza Strip are seen by some Palestinians as part of Dahlan’s efforts to bolster his standing among Palestinians in a post-Abbas era. Dahlan is also hoping to improve his relations with Hamas, the Palestinians said.”