Israel and apartheid

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Israel and apartheid Israel's policies and actions in its ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories have drawn accusations that it is committing the crime of apartheid. Leading Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights groups have said that the totality and severity of the human rights violations against the Palestinian population in the occupied territories, and by some in Israel proper, amount to the crime against humanity of apartheid. Israel and some of its Western allies have rejected the accusation, with the former often labeling the charge antisemitic.

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  • As somebody who understands the pervasive evil of apartheid, to say 'Israel is an apartheid state' is not only false and prejudicial to Israel, but it undermines the real struggle against apartheid and the integrity of that movement.
    • Irwin Cotler, as quoted in the Jewish Chronicle, 27 November 2015, p.34


  • This is a state of apartheid. It's taken me less than a week to lose impartiality. In doing so, I may as well be throwing stones at tanks.
  • 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 Kerry did so, I think he made a mistake.
    • F. W. de Klerk, as quoted in "South Africa's de Klerk: Israel not an apartheid state", The Times of Israel [1], May 27, 2014.
  • There are no discriminatory laws in Israel and while there are certain practices that may be interpreted as segregation, in fact they are not. ... the Government does not prevent Arab children from attending the bredominantly Jewish schools. ...
    In the Knesset, the official languages are Arabic and Hebrew, but the Israeli-Arab MKs mostly address the house in Hebrew. This is an indication that there are no major racial divisions in Israel. The quality of life and civil liberties enjoyed by Israeli Arabs are far better than in much of the Middle East. ...
    Unfortunately, due to propaganda and unprincipled leadership, the majority of ordinary people in the territories still yearn for Jews to leave the region or 'be pushed to the sea'. This is the challenge facing Israel. It is all the more remarkable, therefore, that any allegation of 'apartheid state' can be so easily refuted.
    • Report of South African Study Tour to Israel and Palestine, February 2016
    • Summarised by tour member Rabelani Dagada in "Israel not apartheid state - and we should know", Jewish Chronocle, 3 June 2016 p.24



  • I loved South Africa, but I loathed the apartheid system. In Israel, I saw a fresh start for a people rising from the ashes of the Holocaust, a place of light and justice, as opposed to the darkness and oppression of apartheid South Africa.
  • I have long argued that Israel, despite the occupation, which has now lasted more than 50 years, was not an apartheid state. If annexation goes ahead, with Israeli sovereignty and law extended only to the Israeli residents of the areas involved, but not to the Palestinians, I am not sure I will be able to make that case in the future.
  • However, in contrast to both residents of the OPT and the apartheid Bantustans, Israel has allowed its Arab minority (comprising about 21% of its population) to take up Israeli citizenship. Arab Israelis have their own political parties and many have become notable citizens, taking up positions in the Knesset, cabinet, Supreme Court, foreign service, police and Israeli Defence Force (IDF), as well as the Israeli men’s national football team. Thus Israeli Arabs today enjoy far more rights than blacks ever did within apartheid South Africa.



  • The South African state offered to trade Israel the materials needed for their illegal nuclear weapons program in exchange for international Jewry shielding the country from bad publicity. Once the Israelis got what they wanted, Jews suddenly turned their back on the country and politically isolated it via the United States and Britain. Anti-Apartheid activists, both on the left and the right, were overwhelmingly Jewish, and often pro-Israel as well.



  • The "Left" repeatedly calls for boycotts of Israel because it is, they claim, "an apartheid state." Israel is so totally free of apartheid that anyone who has spent ten minutes there knows the accusation to be an outright lie. So why keep on saying something untrue? That is anti-Semitism.
  • I grew up in South Africa, so believe me when I say: Israel is not an apartheid state ... The difference between the two countries could scarcely be more stark. Under apartheid, a legal structure of racial hierarchy governed all aspects of life. Black South Africans were denied the vote. They were required by law to live, work, study, travel, enjoy leisure activities, receive medical treatment and even go to the lavatory separately from those with a different colour of skin. Interracial relationships and marriages were illegal. It was subjugation in its rawest form. Contrast that with Israel, a country whose Arab, Druze, Bedouin, Ethiopian, Russian, Baha’i, Armenian and other citizens have equal status under the law. Anyone who truly understands what apartheid was cannot possibly look around Israel today and honestly claim there is any kind of parity.
  • Israel, since its inception, has relied on external support, particularly from the Western world, for justification of its policies in Gaza and the West Bank. These relationships are contingent on many things, including values the West claims to hold dear like freedom, democracy, civil rights and equality. The prospect of a negotiated agreement based on two-states has allowed Israel to stave off the confrontation between the myth of these values and the reality on the ground. But as the notion of a two-state agreement fades firmly into history, the apartheid reality becomes impossible to ignore, and further episodes where Israel will confront masses of mobilized Palestinians demanding their rights will continue to highlight this contradiction.



  • We know people cannot own property and it can be seized without any compensation, which is what we experienced in our own country. People have to carry identity documents that reflect their ethnicity rather than citizenship. All of this is part of the apartheid feature.
  • The difference between the current Israeli situation and apartheid South Africa is emphasised at a very human level: Jewish and Arab babies are born in the same delivery room, with the same facilities, attended by the same doctors and nurses, with the mothers recovering in adjoining beds in a ward. Two years ago I had major surgery in a Jerusalem hospital: the surgeon was Jewish, the anaesthetist was Arab, the doctors and nurses who looked after me were Jews and Arabs. Jews and Arabs share meals in restaurants and travel on the same trains, buses and taxis, and visit each other’s homes. Could any of this possibly have happened under apartheid? Of course not.
  • I know about apartheid. I was born in South Africa and spent 26 years as a journalist specialising in reporting apartheid; I have also written several books about it. I only left South Africa because my newspaper, the Rand Daily Mail, of which I was then deputy editor, was closed down by its commercial owners under pressure from the government. We paid the price for being the country's leading voice against apartheid. I also am familiar with Israel. I have lived in Jerusalem since 1997 and for more than 12 years was founder director of the Yakar Center for Social Concern whose purpose was to promote dialogue between Jews and Christians, Jews and Muslims, and Israelis and Palestinians. ... Why do I dismiss the apartheid analogies so emphatically? Because I straddle both apartheid South Africa and Israel today and have knowledge of the good and the ill in both societies.


  • Since 1967, Israel has built more than 130 settlements (and helped build about 140 settler outposts) in the West Bank...Israeli settlers, who have full civil and political rights and are seamlessly connected to Israel’s infrastructure and resources, reside alongside millions of Palestinians subject to Israeli military rule who have zero say over how they are governed. Numerous leading Israeli and international nongovernmental organizations have likened this bifurcated system to apartheid.
  • Those who use the apartheid accusation employ the old anti-Zionist arguments. These constitute a multi-layered construct of fundamental ideological positions and analytical constructs, one of which is the purposeful displacement of the real nationalist context for historical comprehension of Zionism with the vilifying label of colonialism. Many anti-Zionists, but not necessary all of them, apply identifiable double standards of judgment to Israel traceable to the characteristic anti-Semitic premise that all things Jews do are inherently evil, including their nationalism.
  • Comparing Israel to apartheid, which most consider slander and simply part of the assault on Israel, is especially sensitive in South Africa where apartheid was born, grew and died.
    • Geoff Sifrin, Jewish Chronicle, 28 February 2014, p. 36.


  • It reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. Many South Africans are beginning to recognize the parallels to what we went through.


  • 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.
    • Hendrik Verwoerd, quoted in 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


  • I think my appointment is the example and answer for those who accuse Israel of being an apartheid state. It shows minorities have equal rights and we are part of the government, the state and the parliament.

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