Israeli apartheid - Introduction

Apartheid is an official policy of economic, racial and social segregation by one group over another group.

Apartheid is a Dutch Afrikaaner word that describes the institutionalized racist and segregated system that existed in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. Under Apartheid, a system of legalized racial segregation and discrimination existed where the minority white population, which held all legal, political and administrative power, suppressed the human and civil rights of the majority black population.

Many similarities exist between Apartheid South Africa and today’s situation in Palestine. In South Africa in 1948, the minority white, colonial settlers took 87 percent of the land for themselves. They forced the indigenous populations onto isolated Bantustans and classified people according to their race, i.e, White, Non-White, Black, Colored or Asian. Laws based upon these classifications determined where people could live, what kinds of jobs they could hold and what schools they could attend.

In Palestine in 1948, the Zionists claimed 78 percent of historic Palestine for themselves, though they constituted only 5 percent of the population. Palestinians in the West Bank have been forced into isolated cantons and the Palestinians of Gaza are living in an enclosed, open-air prison. Israeli classifies its population as Jew or non-Jew, and laws based upon these classifications determine where people can live, what kinds of jobs they can hold and what schools they can attend.

Under both systems, racial and/or religious classifications predicted what rights people enjoyed.

“The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state,” former South African Prime Minister Hendrick Verwoerdt said in the Rand Daily Mail in 1961.

To increase their control, Israel constructed the Apartheid Wall that is more than 400 miles long. The Apartheid wall snakes through the West Bank, cutting through villages and separating families from each other and farmers from their fields. The Wall has displaced and isolated hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, writes former President Jimmy Carter in “Peace Not Apartheid.” For instance, the 170,000 residents of Bethlehem are surrounded by the Wall and another 400,000 Palestinians have been trapped on the Israeli side of the Wall, cutting them off from family, friends, jobs and their farmland.

“The Wall and disengagement plan are the culmination of 70 years of Zionist policy. The Palestinian ghettos that exist today serve a dual purpose. To exert severe economic and social pressure on the Palestinian population in order to force them to leave; and to allow complete control of the Palestinian population who remain in order to facilitate the expansion of the Jewish settlements onto their confiscated land,” Carter writes.
Some of Israel’s apartheid policies include:

  • Lack of freedom of movement caused by the Apartheid Wall, checkpoints and closures and military curfews.

  • A segregated school system in Israel, where one system is for Jewish students and the other is for non-Jewish students

  • The prohibition of right of return for Palestinian refugees

  • Assassinations and murder carried out by Israeli military

  • Home demolitions

~ American Muslims for Palestine, 2012