Israel apartheid

(Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

Has Israel committed ‘apartheid’? HRW report sparks fierce reaction

It’s one of the most damning and high-profile assessments of Israel’s relationship with Palestine yet – but not everyone is happy with this ‘apartheid verdict’.

Israel apartheid

(Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

Cat, meet pigeons. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a scathing report into the treatment of Palestinian citizens in Israel – accusing the national government of committing ‘apartheid’. The harrowing system of racial subjugation was implemented for more than 40 years in South Africa – but is it fair to say the same is happening in the Middle East?

“Inequities for Arabs in Israel reflect state policy that privileges Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians in all areas under Israeli control. There is an overarching government policy to maintain domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians.W

Human Rights Watch Report

What is apartheid?

A quick history lesson, anyone? Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enshrined in law in South Africa and what is now Namibia from 1948 onwards to institutionalise white supremacy. With laws covering all aspect of life – from work and marriage to education, and travel – it ensured the domination of the minority white populations over everyone else.

Its racial laws created a complex system of social classification based on skin colour, with whites at the top enjoying the highest status and privileges and blacks at the bottom. One of the most hated aspects of the laws — which were not repealed until 1991 — were the “pass laws”, which placed severe restrictions on the movement of black people.

In 2002, the International Criminal Court defined the crime of apartheid in its Rome Statue, which has since been furiously contested by Israel. It has yet to charge any individual or state with the crime, but the official definition reads:

“Apartheid is a crime against humanity, committed in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other. This is committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

Israel reacts to ‘apartheid’ accusations

You can be assured that the Israeli government’s reaction to this has been a feisty one. They aren’t happy with Human Rights Watch and their explosive report. The condemnation from senior officials has been pouring in on Tuesday:

  • – The state says these accusations are “preposterous and false”.
  • – Government has accused the New York-based group of having “a long-standing anti-Israeli agenda”.
  • – Israel’s Foreign Ministry told AFP that the HRW report amounted to a “propaganda pamphlet”.
  • – The department lashed out further, claiming the organisation has been “seeking to promote boycotts against Israel”.