Israel and the apartheid analogy is criticism of Israel
charging that Israel
has practiced a system akin to apartheid
in its occupation of the West Bank
. Some commentators extend the analogy to include treatment of Arab citizens of Israel
, describing their status as second-class citizens
. Proponents of the analogy claim several core elements of what they call "a system of control" in the occupied Palestinian territories
are similar to what prevailed under the South African apartheid
regime. These features regard such things as the ID system
, the pattern of Israeli settlement
s, separate roads for Israeli and Palestinian citizens, Israeli military checkpoints
, marriage law
, the West Bank barrier
, the use of Palestinians for cheaper labour
, the Palestinian West Bank exclave
s, inequities in infrastructure, legal rights (e.g. "Enclave law
"), and disparities of access to land and resources between Palestinians and Israeli settlers
. It is argued that, like South Africa, Israel may be classified as a settler colonial society
, in violation of international law.
The analogy has been debated by scholars and lawyers, United Nations
investigators, the African National Congress
(ANC), human rights groups
and by several Israeli former politicians.
[''Top Israelis Have Warned of Apartheid, so Why the Outrage at a UN Report?''](_blank)
Mehdi Hassan, The Intercept, 23 March 2017.
Israel, its supporters, and a number of scholars reject the comparison. Critics of the analogy argue that the comparison is factually and morally inaccurate and intended to delegitimize Israel itself. Opponents of the analogy reject that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank
and Gaza Strip
can be compared with Apartheid South Africa as they are not part of sovereign Israel and that the territories are governed by the Palestinian Authority
and Hamas government in Gaza
, and as such they cannot be compared to the internal policies of Apartheid South Africa. Proponents compare the enclaves
in the occupied territories to the Bantustans
set up within South Africa, which were also classified as "self-governing" or "independent".
In December 2019, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination determined that it has jurisdiction regarding the complaint filed by the State of Palestine against Israel for breaches of its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
and will now commence a review of the Palestinian complaint that Israel's policies in the West Bank amount to apartheid.
In January 2021, Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem
issued a report outlining the considerations which led to the conclusion that "the bar for labeling the Israeli regime as apartheid has been met."
Proponents of the analogy hold that certain laws explicitly or implicitly discriminate on the basis of creed or race, in effect privileging Jewish citizens and disadvantaging non-Jewish, and particularly Arab, citizens of the state. These include the Law of Return
, the 2003 ban on family unification
, and many laws regarding security, land and planning, citizenship, political representation in the Knesset
(legislature), education and culture. The Nation-State Bill
, enacted in 2018, was widely condemned in both Israel and internationally as discriminatory,
and has also been compared by members of the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO), opposition MPs, and other Arab and Jewish Israelis, to an "apartheid law".
In 1961, the South African prime minister and architect of South Africa's apartheid policies, Hendrik Verwoerd
, dismissed an Israeli vote against South African apartheid at the United Nations, saying, "Israel is not consistent in its new anti-apartheid attitude ... they took Israel away from the Arabs after the Arabs lived there for a thousand years. In that, I agree with them. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state."
[The Empire's New Walls: Sovereignty, Neo-liberalism, and the Production of Space in Post-apartheid South Africa and Post-Oslo Palestine/Israel. Andrew James Clarno. 2009. p. 66–67]
His successor John Vorster
also maintained the same view.Since then, a number of sources have used the apartheid analogy. In the early 1970s, Arabic language magazines of the PLO
compared the Israeli proposals for Palestinian autonomy to the Bantustan
strategy of South Africa.
In 1979, the Palestinian sociologist Elia Zureik argued that while not ''de jure'' an apartheid state, Israeli society was characterized by a latent form of apartheid. The concept emerged with some frequency in both academic and activist writings in the 1980–90s, when Uri Davis
, Meron Benvenisti
, Richard Locke
and Anthony Stewart
employed the term 'apartheid' to describe Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.
In the 1990s, the term "Israeli apartheid" gained prominence after Israel, as a result of the Oslo Accords
, granted the Palestinians limited self-government in the form of the Palestinian Authority
and established a system of permits and checkpoints in the Palestinian Territories
. The apartheid analogy gained additional traction following Israel's construction of the West Bank Barrier
By 2013 the analogy between the West Bank and Bantustans of apartheid-era South Africa was widely drawn in international circles. In the United States, where the notion had previously been taboo, Israel's rule over the occupied territories was increasingly compared to apartheid.
of Simon Fraser University
and Kogila Moodley
of the University of British Columbia
, in their 2005 book-length study ''Seeking Mandela: Peacemaking Between Israelis and Palestinians'', wrote that controversy over use of the term arises because Israel as a state is unique in the region. He writes that Israel is perceived as a Western democracy and is thus likely to be judged by the standards of such a state. Israel also claims to be a home for the worldwide Jewish diaspora
[Heriber, Adam & Moodley, Kogila. op cit. p. xiii.]
Adam and Moodley note that Jewish historical suffering has imbued Zionism
with a "subjective sense of moral validity" that the ruling white South Africans
never had. They also suggested that academic comparisons between Israel and apartheid South Africa that see both dominant groups as settler societies
leave unanswered the question of "when and how settlers become indigenous", as well as failing to take into account that Israeli's Jewish immigrants
view themselves as returning home. Adam and Moodley stress, "because people give meaning to their lives and interpret their worlds through these diverse ideological prisms, the perceptions are real and have to be taken seriously."
Israeli historian Benny Morris
said that those that equate Israeli efforts to separate the two populations to apartheid are effectively trying to undermine the legitimacy of any peace agreement based on a two-state solution
[Morris, Benny: ''One State, Two States'' (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 203–4, n. 1.]
( he|הפרדה literally "separation") is the official description of the policy of the government of Israel
to separate the Palestinian population in Palestinian territories
from the Israeli population.
[According to the Milon and Masada dictionaries, translates into English as "separation", "segregation", "division", "severance", "disassociation" or "divorce". ; ]
, the term is used to refer to the general policy of separation the Israeli government has adopted and implemented over the Palestinians
in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip
The word has been compared to the term "Apartheid" by scholars and commentators,
and by some that hafrada and apartheid are equivalent
The Israeli West Bank barrier
, ( he|גדר ההפרדה , 'separation fence')
the associated controls on the movement of Palestinians posed by West Bank Closures
and Israel's unilateral disengagement
have been cited as examples of hafrada.
Aaron Klieman has distinguished between partition plans based on , which he translated as "detachment"; and , translated as "disengagement."
Since its first public introductions, the concept-turned-policy or paradigm has dominated Israeli political and cultural discourse and debate.
In 2014, United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard A. Falk
used the term in his "Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967".
In January 2021, Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem
issued a report outlining the considerations which led to the conclusion that "the bar for labeling the Israeli regime as apartheid has been met." In presenting the report, B'Tselem's Executive Director, Hagai El-Ad
, stated that "Israel is not a democracy that has a temporary occupation attached to it: it is one regime between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and we must look at the full picture and see it for what it is: apartheid."The report was criticized and was described by Eugene Kontorovich
similar to anti-Semitic "blood libel
" because Israel is treated differently then other countries
Crime of apartheid and Israel
The legal standard
The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid
(ICSPCA) of 1973 was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly
The ICSPCA defines the crime of apartheid as "inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group ... over another racial group ... and systematically oppressing them".
The crime of apartheid was further defined in 2002 by Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
as encompassing inhumane acts such as torture, murder, forcible transfer, imprisonment, or persecution of an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, or other grounds, "committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime".
Legal opinions on applicability to the Israeli occupation
Report of U.N. Special Rapporteur for Palestine
In a 2007 report, U.N. Special Rapporteur
for Palestine John Dugard stated, "elements of the Israeli occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law" and suggested that the "legal consequences of a prolonged occupation with features of colonialism and apartheid" be put to the International Court of Justice
Legal study of the South African Human Sciences Research Council
A 2009, legal study was commissioned and coordinated by the Human Sciences Research Council
(HSRC) of South Africa on Israel's practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law.
[ (pdf 3.0 MiB) The report does not represent an official position of the HSRC]
South African Academic Study Finds that Israel is Practicing Apartheid and Colonialism in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
, May 2009.
The report noted that one of the most 'notorious' aspects of the Apartheid policy was the 'racial enclave policy' manifested in the Black Homelands called bantustan
s, and added: "As the apartheid regime in South Africa, Israel justifies these measures under the pretext of 'security'. Contrary to such claims, they are in fact part of an overall regime aimed at preserving demographic superiority of one racial group over the other in certain areas". According to the report, Israel's practices in the occupied Palestinian territories correlate almost entirely with the definition of apartheid as established in Article 2 of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Comparison to South African laws and practices by the apartheid regime also found strong correlations with Israeli practices, including violations of international standards for due process (such as illegal detention); discriminatory privileges based on ascribed ethnicity (legally, as Jewish or non-Jewish); draconian enforced ethnic segregation in all parts of life, including by confining groups to ethnic "reserves and ghettoes"; comprehensive restrictions on individual freedoms, such as movement and expression; a dual legal system based on ethno-national identity (Jewish or Palestinian); denationalization (denial of citizenship); and a special system of laws designed selectively to punish any Palestinian resistance to the system. The study found that: "the State of Israel exercises control in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with the purpose of maintaining a system of domination by Jews over Palestinians and that this system constitutes a breach of the prohibition of apartheid." The report was published in 2012 as ''Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories''.
The Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din
after studying the issue found that the Israeli treatment of the Palestinian population of the West Bank meets the definition of the crime of apartheid under both Article 7 of the 2002 Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, which entered into force in 1976.
The question of whether Israelis and Palestinians can be said to constitute "racial groups" has been a point of contention in regard to the applicability of the ICSPCA and Article 7 of the Rome Statute. Political writer Ronald Bruce St. John
has argued that in regards to the ICSPCA Israeli policy in the West Bank cannot technically be defined as apartheid, because it lacks the racial component. However he then states that with the 2002 introduction of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court "the emphasis shifts to an identifiable national, ethnic or cultural group, as opposed to a racial group," in which case "Israeli policy in the West Bank clearly constitutes a form of apartheid with an effect on the Palestinian people much the same as apartheid had on the non-White population in South Africa."
The HSRC's 2009 report states that in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Jewish and Palestinian identities are "socially constructed as groups distinguished by ancestry or descent as well as nationality, ethnicity, and religion". On this basis, the study concludes that Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs can be considered "racial groups" for the purposes of the definition of apartheid in international law.
Jacques De Maio, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross
, rejected the claim that there is apartheid in Israel, saying there is "no regime of superiority of race, of denial of basic human rights to a group of people because of their alleged racial inferiority. There is a bloody national conflict, whose most prominent and tragic characteristic is its continuation over the years, decades-long, and there is a state of occupation. Not apartheid."
Issues in Israel proper
Adam and Moodley wrote that Israeli Palestinians are "restricted to second-class citizen status when another ethnic group monopolizes state power" because of legal prohibitions on access to land, as well as the unequal allocation of civil service positions and per capita expenditure on educations between "dominant and minority citizens."
South African Judge Richard Goldstone
, writing in ''The New York Times
'' in October 2011, said that while there exists a degree of separation between Israeli Jews and Arabs, "in Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute". Concerning the West Bank, Goldstone wrote that the situation "is more complex. But here too there is no intent to maintain 'an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group'."
Goldstone also wrote in ''The New York Times'', "the charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes, rather than promotes, peace and harmony."
has argued that even though there is social discrimination against Arabs in Israel and that "the ideal of a Jewish state smacks of racism", the analogy is "intellectually lazy, morally questionable and possibly even mendacious". Buruma argued that Arabs make up 20% of the Israeli population, and "enjoy full citizen's rights" adding that there is no apartheid within the national territory of the State of Israel.
"Do not treat Israel like apartheid South Africa"
''The Guardian'', 23 July 2002.
Fifty-three faculty members from Stanford University
signed a letter expressing the view that "the State of Israel has nothing in common with apartheid" within its national territory. They argued that Israel is a liberal democracy
in which Arab citizens of Israel enjoy civil, religious, social, and political equality. They said that likening Israel to apartheid South Africa was a "smear" and part of a campaign of "malicious propaganda".
There has been a steady extension of Israeli Arab rights to lease or purchase land formerly restricted to Jewish applicants, such as that owned by the Jewish National Fund
or the Jewish Agency. These groups, established by Jews during the Ottoman period to aid in building up a viable Jewish community in Ottoman Palestine, purchased land, including arid desert and swamps, that could be reclaimed, leased to and farmed by Jews, thus encouraging Jewish immigration. After the establishment of the state of Israel, the Israel Lands Authority
oversaw the administration of these properties. On 8 March 2000, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Israeli Arabs, too, had an equal right to purchase long-term leases of such land, even inside previously solely Jewish communities and villages. The court ruled that the government may not allocate land based on religion or ethnicity and may not prevent Arab citizens from living wherever they choose: "The principle of equality prohibits the state from distinguishing between its citizens on the basis of religion or nationality," Chief Justice Aharon Barak wrote. "The principle also applies to the allocation of state land.... The Jewish character of the state does not permit Israel to discriminate between its citizens." Commenting on this ruling, the British philosopher Bernard Harrison has written, in a book chapter dealing with the "apartheid Israel" accusation: "No doubt much more needs to be done. But we are discussing, remember, the question of whether Israel is, or is not, an 'apartheid state'. It is not merely hard, but impossible, to imagine the South African Supreme Court, under the premiership of Hendrik Verwoerd, say, delivering an analogous decision, because to have done so would have struck at the root of the entire system of apartheid, which was nothing if not a system for separating the races by separating the areas they were permitted to occupy."
In 2006, Chris McGreal
of ''The Guardian
'' stated that as a result of the government's control over most of the land in Israel, the vast majority of land in Israel is not available to non-Jews.
In 2007 in response to a 2004 petition filed by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz
ruled that the policy was discriminatory, it has been ruled that the JNF must sell land to non-Jews, and will be compensated with other land for any such land to ensure that the overall amount of Jewish-owned land in Israel remains unchanged.
Community settlements legislation
In the early 2000s, several community settlements
in the Negev and the Galilee were accused of barring Arab applicants from moving in. In 2010, the Knesset passed legislation that allowed admissions committees to function in smaller communities in the Galilee and the Negev, while explicitly forbidding committees to bar applicants on the basis of race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disability, personal status, age, parenthood, sexual orientation, country of origin, political views, or political affiliation. Critics, however, say the law gives the privately run admissions committees a wide latitude over public lands, and believe it will worsen discrimination against the Arab minority.
Israeli citizenship law
passed the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law
in 2003 as an emergency measure after Israel had suffered its worst ever spate of suicide bombings.
[Who's a citizen? Israel.(Israel's citizenship laws)](_blank)
The Economist (US). 20 May 2006
and after several Palestinians who had been granted permanent residency on the grounds of family reunification took part in terrorist attacks in Israel. The law makes inhabitants of Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and areas governed by the Palestinian Authority ineligible for the automatic granting of Israeli citizenship and residency permits that is usually available through marriage to an Israeli citizen. This applies equally to a spouse of any Israeli citizen, whether Arab or Jewish, but in practice the law mostly affects Palestinian Israelis living in the towns bordering the West Bank.
The law was intended to be temporary but has since been extended annually.
[Families fight 'racist' Israeli citizenship law](_blank)
Heather Sharp BBC News Tuesday, 9 March 2010
In the Israeli Supreme Court decision on this matter, Deputy Chief Justice Mishael Cheshin
argued that, "Israeli citizens o not
enjoy a constitutional right to bring a foreign national into Israel ... and it is the right—moreover, it is the duty—of the state, of any state, to protect its residents from those wishing to harm them. And it derives from this that the state is entitled to prevent the immigration of enemy nationals into it—even if they are spouses of Israeli citizens—while it is waging an armed conflict with that same enemy."
The law was upheld in May 2006, by the Supreme Court of Israel
on a six to five vote. Israel's Chief Justice, Aharon Barak
, sided with the minority on the bench, declaring: "This violation of rights is directed against Arab citizens of Israel. As a result, therefore, the law is a violation of the right of Arab citizens in Israel to equality." Zehava Gal-On, one of the founders of B'Tselem
and a Knesset member with the Meretz-Yachad
party, stated that with the ruling "The Supreme Court could have taken a braver decision and not relegated us to the level of an apartheid state." The law was also criticized by Amnesty International
and Human Rights Watch
. In 2007, the restriction was expanded to citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
and Kogila Moodley
cite the marriage law as an example of how Arab Israelis "resemble in many ways 'Colored' and Indian South Africans".
[Adam, Heribert & Moodley, Kogila. , University College London Press, p. 15. ]
They write: "Both Israeli Palestinians and Colored and Indian South Africans are restricted to second-class citizen status when another ethnic group monopolizes state power, treats the minorities as intrinsically suspect, and legally prohibits their access to land or allocates civil service positions or per capita expenditure on education differentially between dominant and minority citizens."
In June 2008 after the law was extended for another year, Amos Schocken
, the publisher of the Israeli daily ''Haaretz
'', wrote in an opinion article, that the law severely discriminates when comparing the rights of young Israeli Jewish citizens and young Israeli Arab citizens who marry, and that its existence in the law books turns Israel into an apartheid state.
Separate and unequal education systems were a central part of apartheid in South Africa, as part of a deliberate strategy designed to limit black children to a life of manual labor. Some disparities between Jews and Arabs in Israel's education system exist, although they are not nearly so significant and the intent not so malign.
The Israeli Pupils' Rights Law of 2000 prohibits educators from establishing different rights, obligations and disciplinary standards for students of different religions. Educational institutions may not discriminate against religious minorities in admissions or expulsion decisions, or when developing curricula or assigning students to classes. Unlike apartheid South Africa, in Israel, education is free and compulsory for all citizens, from elementary school to the end of high school, and university access is based on uniform tuition for all citizens.
[Susser, Asher. Israel, Jordan, and Palestine: The Two-State Imperative. 2011. University Press of New England. p. 130]
Israel has Hebrew-language and Arabic-language schools, while some schools are bilingual. Most Arabs study in Arabic, while a small number of Arab parents choose to enroll their children in Hebrew schools. All of Israel's eight universities use Hebrew.
In 1992 a government report concluded that nearly twice as much money was allocated to each Jewish child as to each Arab pupil.
Likewise, a 2004 Human Rights Watch report identified significant disparities in education spending and stated that discrimination against Arab children affects every aspect of the education system. Exam pass-rate for Arab pupils were about one-third lower than that for their Jewish compatriots.
In 2007, Israeli Education Ministry announced a plan to increase funding for schools in Arab communities. According to a ministry official, "At the end of the process, a lot of money will be directed toward schools with students from families with low education and income levels, mainly in the Arab sector." The Education Ministry prepared a five-year plan to close the gaps and raise the number of students eligible for high school matriculation.
Population Registry Law
, ''The Guardian's'' former chief Israel correspondent, compared Israel's Population Registry Law of 1965, which requires all residents of Israel to register their nationality, to South Africa's Apartheid-era Population Registration Act
, which categorized South Africans according to racial definitions in order to determine who could live in what land. According to McGreal, the Israeli identification cards determine where people are permitted to live, affects access to some government welfare programs, and has impact on how people are likely to be treated by civil servants and policemen.
'Jewish State' bill
The 'Jewish State' bill
, which was passed July 2018, states that "the right of national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people".
[''Israel takes first step towards ‘Jewish nation-state’ law''](_blank)
Joel Greenberg, The Financial Times, 11 May 2017.
[''Full text of MK Avi Dichter’s 2017 ‘Jewish State’ bill''](_blank)
The Times of Israel, 10 May 2017.
[''Government Says It Will Push Jewish Nation-State Bill for First Vote Soon''](_blank)
The Jerusalem Post, 18 December 2017.
The bill would also allow the establishment of segregated towns in which residency would be restricted by religion or nationality — which has been compared to the 1950 Group Areas Act which established apartheid in South Africa.
', Jonathan Cook, Aljazeera, 12 May 2017.
Opposition members and other commentators have warned that the bill would establish or consolidate an apartheid regime;
a ''Haaretz'' editorial described it as "a cornerstone of apartheid".
A cornerstone of apartheid
', Haaretz, 8 May 2017.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved the bill in May 2017.
Issues in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
Under Israeli military occupation
, associate professor of Political Science at University of Massachusetts Boston
has said that after 1977, "the military government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) expropriated and enclosed Palestinian land and allowed the transfer of Israeli settlers to the occupied territories." She notes that settlers continued to be governed by Israeli laws, and that a different system of military law was enacted "to regulate the civilian, economic and legal affairs of Palestinian inhabitants." She says "
ny view these Israeli policies of territorial integration and societal separation as apartheid, even if they were never given such a name."
"Israel an apartheid state?"
, ''Le Monde diplomatique'', November 2003
Under Palestinian Authority
Arabs living in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip
, areas occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and deemed to be occupied territory under international law
, are under the civil control of the Palestinian Authority
, and are not Israeli citizens. In some areas of the West Bank, they are under Israeli security control.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
authored a 2006 book titled ''Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
''. Carter's use of the term "apartheid" was calibrated to avoid specific accusations of racism against the government of Israel, and carefully limited to the situation in Gaza and the West Bank. In a letter to the Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix, Carter made it clear that he was not discussing the circumstances within Israel but exclusively within Gaza and the West Bank.
In 2007, in advance of a report from the United Nations Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur John Dugard
said that "Israel's laws and practices in the OPT ccupied Palestinian territories
certainly resemble aspects of apartheid." Dugard asked: "Can it seriously be denied that the purpose ..
is to establish and maintain domination by one racial group (Jews) over another racial group (Palestinians) and systematically oppressing them?"
[John Dugard, (Advance Edited Version), United Nations Human Rights Council, 29 January 2007.]
In October 2010, Richard A. Falk
reported to the General Assembly Third Committee that "the nature of the occupation as of 2010 substantiates earlier allegations of colonialism and apartheid in evidence and law to a greater extent than was the case even three years ago." Falk described it as a "cumulative process" and said "the longer it continues...the more serious is the abridgment of fundamental Palestinian rights."
Israeli Defense Minister and former prime minister Ehud Barak
stated in 2010 regarding the occupied territories that "As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state."
Barak: make peace with Palestinians or face apartheid
', Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, 3 February 2010.
Under State of Palestine and Hamas Government in Gaza
In November 2014, former Attorney General of Israel
(1993–1996) Michael Ben-Yair
urged the European Economic Union
to endorse the creation of a Palestinian state, arguing that Israel had imposed an apartheid regime on the West Bank. He stated that the Jews' "national-historical affiliation with the land of Israel" must not come "at the expense of another nation", advocating for co-existence. In 2015, Meir Dagan
argued that continuation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
's policies would result in an Israel that is either a binational
state or an apartheid state. Dagan, a former head of the Israeli agency Mossad
, said in particular that the Operation Cast Lead
military effort in Palestinian territory had failed.
West Bank barrier
In 2003, a year after Operation Defensive Shield
, the Israeli government announced a project of "fences and other physical obstacles" to prevent Palestinians crossing into Israel. Several figures, including Mohammad Sarwar
, John Pilger
, Mustafa Barghouti
and others have described the resultant West Bank barrier as an "apartheid wall".
Supporters of the West Bank barrier consider it to be largely responsible for reducing incidents of terrorism by 90% from 2002 to 2005.
Some Israelis have compared the separation plan to the South African apartheid regime. Political scientist, Meron Benvenisti
, wrote that Israel's disengagement from Gaza
created a bantustan
model for Gaza. According to Benvenisti, Ariel Sharon
's intention to disengage from Gaza
only after construction of the fence was completed, "along a route that will include all settlement blocs (in keeping with Binyamin Netanyahu
s demand), underscores the continuity of the bantustan
concept. The fence creates three bantustans on the West Bank – Jenin-Nablus, Bethlehem-Hebron and Ramallah. He called this "the real link between the Gaza and West Bank plans.".
"Bantustan plan for an apartheid Israel"
''The Guardian'', 26 April 2005.
The International Court of Justice
ruled in 2004 in an advisory opinion that the wall is illegal where it extends beyond the 1967 Green Line
into the West Bank
. Israel disagreed with the ruling, but its supreme court subsequently ordered the barrier to be moved in sections where its route was seen to cause more hardship to Palestinians than security concerns could motivate. The Supreme Court of Israel
ruled that the barrier is defensive and accepted the government's position that the route is based on security considerations.
, a former national director of the American Jewish Congress
, has stated that the network of settlements
in the West Bank has created an "irreversible colonial project" aimed to foreclose the possibility of a viable Palestinian state
. According to Siegman, in accomplishing this Israel has "crossed the threshold from 'the only democracy in the Middle East' to the only apartheid regime in the Western world". Siegman argues that denial of both self-determination and Israeli citizenship to Palestinians amounts to a "double disenfranchisement", which when based on ethnicity amounts to racism. Siegman continues to state that reserving democracy for privileged citizens and keeping others "behind checkpoints and barbed wire fences" is the opposite of democracy.
has compared Israel's confiscation of Palestinian farms and land, and destruction of Palestinian homes, to similar policies of Apartheid-era South Africa.
A major 2002 study of Israeli settlement practices by the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem
concluded: "Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime is the only one of its kind in the world, and is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa."
In 2007, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reported that Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the occupied territories are subject to different criminal laws, leading to longer detention and harsher punishments for Palestinians than for Israelis for the same offenses. Amnesty International has reported that in the West Bank, Israeli settlers and soldiers who engage in abuses against Palestinians, including unlawful killings, enjoy "impunity" from punishment and are rarely prosecuted. However Palestinians detained by Israeli security forces may be imprisoned for prolonged periods of time, and reports of their torture and other ill-treatment are not credibly investigated.
John Dugard has compared Israeli imprisonment of Palestinians to policies of Apartheid-era South Africa, saying "Apartheid's security police practiced torture on a large scale. So do the Israeli security forces. There were many political prisoners on Robben Island
but there are more Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails."
Access to water
The World Bank found in 2009 that Israeli settlements in the West Bank (which amount to 15% of the population of the West Bank) are given access to over 80% of its fresh water resources, despite the fact that the Oslo accords call for "joint" management of such resources. This has created, according to the Bank, "real water shortages" for the Palestinians. In January 2012, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French parliament
published a report describing Israel's water policies in the West Bank as "a weapon serving the new apartheid". The report noted that the 450,000 Israeli settlers used more water than the 2.3 million Palestinians, "in contravention of international law", that Palestinians are not allowed to use the underground aquifers, and that Israel was deliberately destroying wells, reservoirs and water purification plants. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the report was "loaded with the language of vicious propaganda, far removed from any professional criticism with which one could argue intelligently". A report by the Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies
concludes that Israel has fulfilled the water agreements it has made with the Palestinians, and the author has commented that the situation is "just the opposite of apartheid" as Israel has provided water infrastructure to more than 700 Palestinian villages.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel
concluded in 2008 that a segregated road network in the West Bank, expansion of Jewish settlements, restriction of the growth of Palestinian towns and discriminatory granting of services, budgets and access to natural resources are "a blatant violation of the principle of equality and in many ways reminiscent of the Apartheid regime in South Africa". The group reversed its previous reluctance to use the comparison to South Africa because "things are getting worse rather than better", according to spokeswoman Melanie Takefman.
Travel and movement
Palestinians living in the non-annexed
portions of the West Bank do not have Israeli citizenship or voting rights in Israel, but are subject to movement restrictions of the Israeli government. Israel has created roads and checkpoints in the West Bank with the stated purpose of preventing the uninhibited movement of suicide bomber
s and militants
in the region. The human rights NGO B'Tselem has indicated that such policies have isolated some Palestinian communities and state that Israel's road regime "based on the principle of separation through discrimination, bears striking similarities to the racist apartheid regime that existed in South Africa until 1994".
[Forbidden Checkpoints and Roads](_blank)
The International Court of Justice stated that the fundamental rights of the Palestinian population of the occupied territories are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
, and that Israel could not deny them on the grounds of security. Marwan Bishara, a teacher of international relations at the American University of Paris
, has claimed that the restrictions on the movement of goods between Israel and the West Bank are "a ''de facto'' apartheid system".
[Bishara, Marwan] Michael Oren
"Israel's Pass Laws Will Wreck Peace Hopes"
Retrieved 21 October 2006.
argues that none of this even remotely resembles apartheid, since "the vast majority of settlers and Palestinians choose to live apart because of cultural and historical differences, not segregation, though thousands of them do work side by side. The separate roads were created in response to terrorist attacks – not to segregate Palestinians but to save Jewish lives. And Israeli roads are used by Israeli Jews and Arabs alike."
A permit and closure system
was introduced in 1990. Leila Farsakh
maintains that this system imposes "on Palestinians similar conditions to those faced by blacks under the pass laws. Like the pass laws, the permit system controlled population movement according to the settlers' unilaterally defined considerations." In response to the al-Aqsa intifada
, Israel modified the permit system and fragmented the WBGS est Bank and Gaza Strip
territorially. "In April 2002 Israel declared that the WBGS would be cut into eight main areas, outside which Palestinians could not live without a permit."
John Dugard has said these laws "resemble, but in severity go far beyond, apartheid's pass system".] Jamal Zahalka, an Israeli-Arab member of the Knesset has also said that this permit system is a feature of apartheid. ["New Laws Legalize Apartheid in Israel. Report from a Palestine Center briefing by Jamal Zahalka"] Azmi Bishara, a former Knesset member, argued that the Palestinian situation had been caused by "colonialist apartheid".
, ''For the Record'', No. 116, 11 June 2002.
B'Tselem wrote in 2004, "Palestinians are barred from or have restricted access to of West Bank roads" and has said this system has "clear similarities" with the apartheid regime in South Africa.
In October 2005 the Israel Defense Forces stopped Palestinians from driving on Highway 60, as part of a plan for a separate Road Network for Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank. The road had been sealed after the fatal shooting of three settlers near Bethlehem. As of 2005, no private Palestinian cars were permitted on the road although public transport was still allowed.
In 2011, Major General Nitzan Alon abolished separate public transportation systems on the West Bank, permitting Palestinians to ride alongside Israelis. The measure has been protested by settlers. The IDF order was reportedly overturned by Moshe Ya'alon who, responding to pressure from settler groups, issued a directive that would deny Palestinians passage on buses running from Israel to the West Bank. In 2014, the decision was said to be made on security grounds, though according to ''Haaretz'', military officials state that Palestinian use of such transport poses no security threat. Justice Minister Tzipi Livini asked the Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to examine the ban's legality and Weinstein immediately demanded that Ya'alon provide an explanation for his decision. Israeli security sources were quoted saying the decision had nothing to do with public buses and said that the goal was to supervise the entrance into and exit out of Israeli territory, thereby decreasing the chance of terrorist attacks inside Israel. Critics on the left described the policy as tantamount to apartheid, and something that would render Israel a pariah state.
On 29 December 2009 Israel's High Court of Justice accepted the Association for Civil Rights in Israel's petition against an IDF order barring Palestinians from driving on Highway 443. The ruling should come into effect five months after being issued, allowing Palestinians to use the road. According to plans laid out by the Israeli Defence Forces to implement the court's ruling, Palestinian use of the road is seen to remain limited. In March 2013, the Israeli Afikim bus company announced that, as from 4 March 2013, it would be operating separate bus lines for Jews and Arabs in the occupied territories.
"Searching for meaning"
, ''Al-Ahram'', 13–19 May 2004.
Comments by South Africans
Anglican Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu has commented on the similarities between South Africa and Palestine and the importance of international pressure in ending apartheid in South Africa. He has drawn a parallel between the movement "aiming to end Israeli occupation" and the international pressure that helped end apartheid in South Africa, saying: "If apartheid ended, so can the occupation, but the moral force and international pressure will have to be just as determined." In 2014, Tutu urged the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States to divest from companies that contributed to the occupation,
saying that Israel "has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation", and that the alternative to Israel being "an apartheid state in perpetuity" was to end the occupation through either a one-state solution or a two-state solution.
Howard Friel writes that Desmond Tutu "views the conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories as resembling apartheid in South Africa." BBC News reported in 2012 that Tutu "accused Israel of practicing apartheid in its policies towards Palestinians." [>] Both Friel and Israeli author Uri Davis have quoted the following comment from Tutu, published in the Guardian in 2002, in their own work: "I was deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what has happened to us black people in South Africa." Davis has discussed the Tutu quote in his book ''Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within'' where he has argued that "fundamental apartheid structures of the Israeli polity" with respect to property inheritance rights, access to state land and water resources and access to state welfare resources "fully justify the classification of Israel as an apartheid State." [
Other prominent South African anti-apartheid activists have used apartheid comparisons to criticize the occupation of the West Bank, and particularly the construction of the separation barrier. These include Farid Esack, a writer who is currently William Henry Bloomberg Visiting Professor at Harvard Divinity School,] ["The logic of Apartheid is akin to the logic of Zionism.... Life for the Palestinians is infinitely worse than what we ever had experienced under Apartheid.... The price they (Palestinians) have had to pay for resistance much more horrendous." Audio: Learning from South Africa – Religion, Violence, Nonviolence, and International Engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle] Ronnie Kasrils, [Rage of the Elephant: Israel in Lebanon](_blank) Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,
. Retrieved 3 November 2006.
["Apartheid Israel can be defeated, just as apartheid in South Africa was defeated] Denis Goldberg,
Winnie Mandela on apartheid Israel
, Independent Online, 26 March 2004. Retrieved 3 November 2006.
[Th] and Arun Ghandhi,
In 2008 a delegation of African National Congress (ANC) veterans visited Israel and the Occupied Territories, and said that in some respects it was worse than apartheid.
''Israeli-South African-U.S. Alliance''
Retrieved 6 November 2006.
In May 2018, in the aftermath of the Gaza border protests, the ANC issued a statement comparing the actions of Palestinians to "our struggle against the apartheid regime". It also accused the Israeli military of "the same cruelty" as Hitler, and stated that "all South Africans must rise up and treat Israel like the pariah that it is". Around the same time, the South African government withdrew indefinitely its Ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngombane, to protest "the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack".
Human rights lawyer Fatima Hassan, a member of the 2008 ANC delegation, cited the separate roads, different registration of cars, the indignity of having to produce a permit, and long queues at checkpoints as worse than what they had experienced during apartheid. But she also thought the apartheid comparison was a potential "red herring":"... the context is different and the debate on whether this is Apartheid or not deflects from the real issue of occupation, encroachment of more land, building of the wall and the indignity of the occupation and the conduct of the military and police. I saw the check point at Nablus, I met with Palestinians in Hebron, I met the villagers who are against the wall—I met Israeli's and Palestinians who have lost family members, their land and homes. They have not lost hope though—and they believe in a joint struggle against the occupation and are willing in non-violent means to transform the daily direct and indirect forms of injustice and violence. To sum up—there is a transgression that is continuing unabated–call it what you want, apartheid/separation/closure/security—it remains a transgression".
Gideon Shimoni, professor emeritus of Hebrew University, has said that the analogy is defamatory and say it reflects a double standard when applied to Israel and not to neighboring Arab countries, whose policies towards their own Palestinian minorities have been described as discriminatory. [ He has said that while apartheid was characterized by racially based legal inequality and exploitation of Black Africans by the dominant Whites within a common society, the Israel–Palestinian conflict reflects "separate nationalisms," in which Israel refuses exploitation of Palestinians and on the contrary seeks separation and "divorce" from Palestinians for legitimate self-defense reasons.] [ Interview by Manfred Gerstenfeld]
Sasha Polakow-Suransky notes that Israel's labour policies are very different from those of apartheid-era South Africa, and that Israel has never enacted miscegenation laws, and that liberation movements in South Africa and Palestine have had different "aspirations and tactics." This notwithstanding, he argues that the apartheid analogy is likely to gain further legitimacy in coming years unless Israel moves to dismantle West Bank settlements and create a viable Palestinian state. Polakow-Suransky also writes that the response of Israel's defenders to the analogy since 2007 has been "knee-jerk" and based on "vitriol and recycled propaganda" rather than an honest assessment of the situation.
South-African born Israeli writer Benjamin Pogrund, who had been a long-time critic of the analogy between Israeli occupational practices and apartheid has, after the proposed Israeli annexation of the West Bank announced by Benjamin Netanyahu in 2020, commented that if implemented, such a plan would alter his assessment:'tleast it has been a military occupation. Now we are going to put other people under our control and not give them citizenship. That is apartheid. That is an exact mirror of what apartheid was n South Africa'
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations (June 1975 – February 1976), Daniel Patrick Moynihan voiced the strong disagreement of the United States with the General Assembly's resolution declaring that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination" in 1975 stated that unlike apartheid, Zionism is clearly not a racist ideology. He said that racist ideologies such as apartheid favor discrimination on the grounds of alleged biological differences, yet few people are as biologically heterogeneous as the Jews.
A number of sitting Israeli premiers have warned that Israel could become like apartheid South Africa. Prime minister Yizhak Rabin warned in 1976 that Israel risked becoming an apartheid state if it annexed and absorbed the West Bank's Arab population.
Prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2007 warned that if the two-state solution collapsed, Israel would "face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished".
In March 2011, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has said that he will not allow city funding for the 2011 Toronto Pride Parade if organizers allow the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) march again this year. "Taxpayers dollars should not go toward funding hate speech," Ford said. However, in April 2011, the city manager reported to the city's executive committee that the use of the phrase 'Israeli apartheid' does not violate the city's Anti-discrimination policy, nor does it constitute discrimination under the Canadian Criminal Code or the Ontario Human Rights Code.
In June 2012, the Toronto city council voted to condemn the phrase "Israeli apartheid", as part of a resolution recognizing the gay Pride Toronto parade as a "significant cultural event that strongly promotes the ideals of tolerance and diversity". The resolution said it slams the term Israel Apartheid for undermining the values of Pride and diminishing "the suffering experienced by individuals during the apartheid regime in South Africa".
In 2014, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that if Israel did not make peace soon, under a two-state solution, it could become an apartheid state. Former South African state president F. W. de Klerk, in Israel to receive an honorary doctorate from Haifa University and who negotiated to end his country's apartheid regime, later said: "You have Palestinians living in Israel with full political rights. You don’t have discriminatory laws against them, I mean not letting them swim on certain beaches or anything like that. I think it's unfair to call Israel an apartheid state. If John Kerry did so, I think he made a mistake." The interviewer clarified that Kerry had stressed that Israel was not at present an apartheid state.
In 2018 the Chilean commune of Valdivia declared itself "Free of Israeli Apartheid" ( es|Libre de Apartheid Israelí). According to the mayor of Valdivia Omar Sabat this mean the municipality would "restrain from purchasing any services from companies related to the Israeli apartheid". The municipal decree was declared unconstitutional by the Comptroller General of Chile in December 2018. [
Irwin Cotler, a retired Canadian politician and former "Canadian counsel" for Nelson Mandela, said it was "Ideological antisemitism" (which he defined as antisemitism under the cover of anti-racism) to call Israel an apartheid state because " It also involves the call for the ''dismantling'' of Israel as an apartheid state as evidenced by the events at the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban" and linked this to efforts to delegitimize Israel.
["Global Antisemitism: Assault on Human Rights"](_blank)
Canadian academic, activist and a vocal supporter of Israel Anne Bayefsky wrote that the apartheid label was used by Arab states at the Durban World Conference against Racism 2001 as part of a campaign to delegitimize Israel and to legitimize violence against Israeli citizens.
Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism; Working Paper No. 3, 2009
UN Response 2019
On 23 April 2018 Palestine filed an inter-state complaint against Israel for breaches of its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
On 12 December 2019, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination decided that it has jurisdiction regarding the complaint and will now commence a review of the Palestinian complaint that Israel's policies in the West Bank amount to apartheid.
* 3D Test of Antisemitism
*Academic boycotts of Israel
*Human rights in Israel
*Israeli Apartheid Week
*Israeli West Bank barrier
*Israel-South Africa relations
*Racism in the Middle East
*Racism in Israel
*Noel Ignatiev#Encyclopedia of Race and Racism
* Adam, Heribert and Kogila Moodley. ''Seeking Mandela : peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians. Politics, history, and social change.'' Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2005. , .
* Carter, Jimmy. ''Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid''. Simon & Schuster, 2006.
* Davis, Uri. ''Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within''. Zed Books, 2004.
* Lavie, Smadar. 2003. "Lily White Feminism and Academic Apartheid in Israel: Anthropological Perspectives.” Anthropology Newsletter, October:10–11.
Endorse the analogy
It Is Apartheid
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
Israeli Apartheid Week site
Socialist Worker site on Israeli Apartheid
"Stop the Wall" anti-apartheid campaign site
Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid
'Boycott apartheid Israel'
Counter the analogy
Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism: ''Debunking the Apartheid Analogy''
Zionism on the Web
Anti-Defamation League: The Apartheid Lie
CAMERA: The Apartheid Canard
Zionism and Apartheid: The Analogy in the Politics of International Law
*ttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/03/EDRP168GMT.DTL Lost in the Blur of Slogans
Countering the Apartheid Slander
Algeria, where are your Jews?
Hillel Neuer from UN Watch speaking at the UN about Apartheid (YouTube)
South Africa, Israel-Palestine, and the Contours of the Contemporary Global Order
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Christopher J. Lee (9 March 2004)
*LinkTVbr>Special: Occupation or Apartheid