Last updated on: 2/4/2016 3:09:41 PM PST
Is Israel an Apartheid State?



PRO (yes)

Desmond Tutu, ThM, Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Prize Winner, in a June 10, 2014 letter to the Presbyterian Church USA titled "Archbishop Desmond Tutu Urges Presbyterians to Adopt Divestment," available from the Israel/Palestine Mission Network website, wrote:

"I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed. Realistic Israeli leaders have acknowledged that Israel will either end its occupation through a one or two state solution, or live in an apartheid state in perpetuity."

June 10, 2014 - Desmond Tutu, ThM 



Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, in a Jan. 25, 2007 interview with Steve Inskeep for NPR titled "Jimmy Carter Defends 'Peace Not Apartheid'," stated:

"Apartheid is a word that is an accurate description of what has been going on in the West Bank, and it's based on the desire or avarice of a minority of Israelis for Palestinian land... [Apartheid] is a word that's a very accurate description of the forced separation within the West Bank of Israelis from Palestinians and the total domination and oppression of Palestinians by the dominant Israeli military."

Jan. 25, 2007 - Jimmy Carter 



Samer Abdelnour, PhD, Cofounder of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, in an Apr. 4, 2013 article for Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, titled "Beyond South Africa: Understanding Israeli Apartheid," wrote:

"'Israeli Apartheid' is a commonly used term to describe the racial violence and segregation enshrined in Israel's institutions. Though Israel's most ardent supporters will continue to resist the rhetoric of apartheid, the reality of apartheid in Israel is unmistakable…

In Israel today, apartheid thrives through sophisticated bureaucratic, market, and military institutions superior to those of the South African apartheid era. It also receives unprecedented subsidies in the form of U.S. military support and humanitarian aid…

The physical faces of apartheid are those interface elements that are readily apparent and measurable. They come in the form of violence, destruction, and physical division: concrete and metal, including checkpoints, prisons, settlements, settler roads, walls, 'security zones', tanks, tractors, bull-dozers, drones, and bombs. In addition, the physical manifestations of apartheid classify and divide: paper and digital permits, ID cards, databases, surveillance systems, visas, evacuation orders, legal notices, applications, vouchers, deeds, and related techniques of classification and categorization."

Apr. 4, 2013 - Samer Abdelnour, PhD 



Richard Falk, SJD, Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law and Practice at Princeton University and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, in an Apr. 28, 2015 post on his website titled "Apartheid and the Palestinian National Struggle," available from his Global Justice in the 21st Century website, wrote:

"The most clearly delineated apartheid structures are maintained in the West Bank where there is a pervasive subjugation of the Palestinian population by a regime of rightlessness as administered by Israeli military authorities, and to some extent since 1993 delegated to the Palestinian Authority. This regime gives rise to contrasts between the Palestinian experiences of everyday abuse and uplifting Israeli experiences of the rule of law and the stable life circumstances enjoyed by unlawful settlers. This bright line of discrimination is reinforced by the checkpoints, house demolitions, settler only roads, an intrusive separation wall, settler violence, and epitomized by the grossly unequal allocation of Palestinian water resources."

Apr. 28, 2015 - Richard Falk, SJD 



Bradley Burston, Senior Editor at Haaretz.com, in an Aug. 17, 2015 article for Haaretz titled "It's Time to Admit It. Israeli Policy Is What It Is: Apartheid," wrote:

"I used to be one of those people who took issue with the label of apartheid as applied to Israel… I'm not one of those people any more. Not after the last few weeks.

Not after terrorists firebombed a West Bank Palestinian home, annihilating a family, murdering an 18-month-old boy and his father, burning his mother over 90 percent of her body - only to have Israel's government rule the family ineligible for the financial support and compensation automatically granted Israeli victims of terrorism, settlers included.

I can't pretend anymore. Not after Israel's Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, explicitly declaring stone-throwing to be terrorism, drove the passage of a bill holding stone-throwers liable to up to 20 years in prison.

The law did not specify that it targeted only Palestinian stone-throwers. It didn't have to.

Just one week later, pro-settlement Jews hurled rocks, furniture, and bottles of urine at Israeli soldiers and police at a West Bank settlement, and in response, Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rewarded the Jewish stone-throwers with a pledge to build hundreds of new settlement homes.

This is what has become of the rule of law. Two sets of books. One for Us, and one to throw at Them. Apartheid."

Aug. 17, 2015 - Bradley Burston 



Saree Makdisi, PhD, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA, in a May 17, 2014 opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times titled "Does the Term 'Apartheid' Fit Israel? Of Course It Does," wrote:

"Jewish residents of the occupied territories enjoy various rights and privileges denied to their Palestinian neighbors. While the former enjoy the protections of Israeli civil law, the latter are subject to the harsh provisions of military law. So, while their Jewish neighbors come and go freely, West Bank Palestinians are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention, and to the denial of freedom of movement; they are frequently barred from access to educational or healthcare facilities, Christian and Muslim sites for religious worship, and so on.

Meanwhile, Palestinian citizens of Israel must contend with about 50 state laws and bills that, according to the Palestinian-Israeli human rights organization Adalah, either privilege Jews or directly discriminate against the Palestinian minority… The educational systems for the two populations in Israel (not to mention the occupied territories) are kept largely separate and unequal. While overcrowded Palestinian schools in Israel crumble, Jewish students are given access to more resources and curricular options…

And so it goes in all domains of life, from birth to death: a systematic, vigilantly policed separation of the two populations and utter contempt for the principle of equality. One group — stripped of property and rights, expelled, humiliated, punished, demolished, imprisoned and at times driven to the edge of starvation (down to the meticulously calculated last calorie) — has withered. The other group — its freedom of movement and of development not merely unrestricted but actively encouraged — has flourished, and its religious and cultural symbols adorn the regalia of the state and are emblazoned on the state flag.

The question is not whether the term 'apartheid' applies here. It is why it should cause such an outcry when it is used."

May 17, 2014 - Saree Makdisi, PhD 



James Besser, former Washington Correspondent for the New York Jewish Week, in a Mar. 20, 2015 opinion piece for Haaretz titled "Israel Chooses Path to Apartheid," wrote:

"In my quarter century as Washington correspondent for Jewish newspapers, I frequently defended Israel against charges that it had created an apartheid system in the West Bank… The idea of apartheid suggests the intent to make separation and unequal treatment permanent, and in the past it was possible to argue that for all the expansion of settlements, Israel was still looking for ways to end the occupation. No more…

In the absence of any willingness to work toward a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the future is clear: continuing occupation with no effort to find a way to end it, accelerating settlement construction and a hardening of policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank. In other words, apartheid…

American Jewish groups, key players in the coalition against South African apartheid, will resort to verbal gymnastics to argue that it's not the same. Or they will simply use the convenient ploy of pointing out all the bad decisions made by Palestinian leaders over the years. When the inevitable violence erupts and when the Palestinians, left with no other options, renew their push to condemn Israel in international bodies, they will circle the wagons to defend a Jewish state they claim is unfairly treated by a hostile world. They will ratchet up efforts to stifle even moderate dissent in the Jewish world...

And nobody outside an increasingly narrow pro-Israel tent will buy it. Because apartheid is apartheid, and that's exactly what Israeli voters chose this week [by electing Netanyahu] as a course for their nation."

Mar. 20, 2015 - James Besser 



CON (no)

FW De Klerk, LLB, seventh State President of South Africa, in a May 27, 2014 interview with Channel 2 News titled "FW De Klerk: 'It's Unfair to Call Israel an Apartheid State' – Full," available from YouTube, stated:

"You have Palestinians living in Israel with full political rights represented in the Knesset. You don't have discriminatory laws against them that they may not swim on certain beaches or anything like that. I think it's unfair to call Israel an Apartheid state."

May 27, 2014 - FW De Klerk, LLB 



Richard J. Goldstone, LLB, first Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, in an Oct. 31, 2011 op-ed for the New York Times titled "Israel and the Apartheid Slander," wrote:

"While 'apartheid' can have broader meaning, its use is meant to evoke the situation in pre-1994 South Africa. It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations…

In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: 'Inhumane acts ... committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.' Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel's population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.

To be sure, there is more de facto separation between Jewish and Arab populations than Israelis should accept. Much of it is chosen by the communities themselves. Some results from discrimination. But it is not apartheid, which consciously enshrines separation as an ideal. In Israel, equal rights are the law, the aspiration and the ideal; inequities are often successfully challenged in court.

The situation in the West Bank is more complex. But here too there is no intent to maintain 'an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group.' This is a critical distinction, even if Israel acts oppressively toward Palestinians there. South Africa's enforced racial separation was intended to permanently benefit the white minority, to the detriment of other races. By contrast, Israel has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, and is calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters."

Oct. 31, 2011 - Richard J. Goldstone, LLB 



Kenneth Meshoe, President of the African Christian Democratic Party in South Africa, in an Aug. 24, 2015 interview with Channel 10 reported in part in an Aug. 25, 2015 article by the Jerusalem Post titled "I Know What Apartheid Was, and Israel Is Not Apartheid, Says S. African Parliament Member," stated:

"Those who know what real apartheid is, as I know, know that there is nothing in Israel that looks like apartheid…

[Calling Israel an apartheid state] is an empty political statement that does not hold (any) truth… You see people of different colors, backgrounds and religions [interacting with each other every day]…

There is a widespread allegation, really a slander, that Israel is an apartheid state. That notion is simply wrong. It is inaccurate and it is malicious."

Aug. 24, 2015 - Kenneth Meshoe 



Barbara Boxer, US Senator (D-CA), in an Apr. 28, 2014 tweet, wrote:

"Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and any linkage between Israel and apartheid is nonsensical and ridiculous."

Apr. 28, 2014 - Barbara Boxer 



The Israel Action Network (IAN), in a Jan. 2015 resource titled "Israel Is Not an Apartheid State," posted on its website, wrote:

"Apartheid is a state-sanctioned system of racial separation and discrimination which dominated nearly every aspect of daily life in South Africa between 1948 and 1994. The accusation that Israel is an apartheid state is both factually and morally incorrect. It is a misuse of this abhorrent label to describe Israel, a society like our own, where equal rights for all are enshrined in Israel's founding document, the Declaration of Independence. In South Africa, those who were white enjoyed rights and privileges that black citizens were denied and racist laws forced citizens to live in separate areas and attend separate schools. Segregation and discrimination extended to ownership rights, the holding of public office, voting, church attendance and even burial. In contrast, Israel offers full political rights under one set of laws that extends to all citizens and minorities."

Jan. 2015 - Israel Action Network (IAN) 



Robbie Sabel, PhD, Professor of International Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Former Legal Advisor to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a Dec. 2, 2013 interview with Manfred Gerstenfeld, PhD, for Arutz Sheva titled "Op-Ed: On the 'Israel Is an Apartheid State' Slander," stated:

"Israel is a multi-racial and also a multi-colored society. It has free elections with universal voting rights. Its judiciary is independent and enjoys high international standing…

Since Israel became independent in 1948, there have always been Arab parliamentarians. There have been Arab cabinet ministers and deputy speakers of the Knesset. There are Arab judges… Arab doctors in hospitals… Arab university professors… Arab students study at all Israeli universities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has Arab ambassadors and other diplomats. There are Arabs among senior army and police officers and so on. This reality is radically different from the 1948 to 1994 white South African Apartheid regime.

To better understand the fraud of those who call Israel an Apartheid state, one can enumerate the key characteristics of the South African regime. They included a large array of legal constraints. Colored people were prohibited from voting in general elections. There was a prohibition of marriages between white people and those of other races...

[T]here was forced physical separation between white and colored residential areas… There was a special Black Education Department… In addition there was the so-called 'petty segregation' in all public amenities…

The 'Israel is an Apartheid State' campaign is a fraud presented as being based on concern for the universal application of human rights. Its true aim is the delegitimization of Israel, by accusing it of the worst possible crimes."

Dec. 2, 2013 - Robbie Sabel, PhD 



Michael B. Oren, PhD, Senior Fellow in International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (Israel) at the time of the quote, in a May 17, 2014 opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times titled "Israel Isn't, and Never Will Be, an Apartheid State," wrote:

"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. The separation of schools is, again, a cultural choice similar to that made by secular and Orthodox Jews and Muslim and Christian Palestinians. Many Palestinians, however, study in Israeli institutions such as Ariel University, located in a settlement. Thousands of Palestinians, many of them from Hamas-controlled Gaza, are treated at Israeli hospitals.

Israelis can indeed vote for their leaders, and so too can the Palestinians, but the Palestinian Authority has refused to hold elections for years. Palestinians are indeed tried under Israeli (originally British) military codes for security infractions, but other cases are referred to Palestinian courts. And even on security-related issues, Palestinians can appeal to Israel's Supreme Court…

Outside of the West Bank, in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel, Jews and Arabs mix freely and increasingly live in the same neighborhoods. Arabs serve in Israel's parliament, in its army and on its Supreme Court. And though discrimination in Israel , as in America, remains a scourge, there is no imposed segregation. Go to any Israeli mall, any restaurant or hospital, and you will see Arabs and Jews interacting…

Israel is not an apartheid state and will not become one, even if the Palestinians continue to reject peace. However unwittingly, those who associate apartheid with Israel are aiding the third and perhaps ultimate stage in the effort to destroy the nation. They are also committing a grave injustice to the millions of American and South African blacks who were the victims of true apartheid."

May 17, 2014 - Michael B. Oren, PhD