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THE PALESTINIAN HUNGER STRIKE: “Our chains will be broken before we are..”

16 May

 

 

On April 17th at least 1500 Palestinian prisoners launched a hunger strike of indefinite duration, responding to a call from Israel’s most famous Palestinian prisoner, Marwan Barghouti. It also happens to be that Barghouti is the most popular political leader, far more liked, trusted, and admired that the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. Barghouti is serving a series of lifetime terms for his alleged role in directing an operation during the Second Intifada in which five Israelis were killed.

 

Barghouti who has been in prison for fifteen years, gave his reasons for the strike as “torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence,” as well as a failure to abide by international legal standards pertaining to prison conditions during a military occupation. Even the normally timid International Committee of the Red Cross acknowledged prisoner demands by issuing a public statement asserting that the denial of family visits and moving Palestinian prisoners and detainees outside of the occupied territory to Israeli jails were violations of international treaty norms set forth in the Fourth Geneva Convention governing belligerent occupation.

 

Because Barghouti expressed his grievances in an article somewhat surprisingly published by the NY Times on April 16th. Surprising because the Times, an influential media outlet, has over the years been reliably deferential to the Israeli rationalizations for Israeli contested policies and behavior. It turns out that the newspaper was nervous about this departure from its normal operating mode. Barghouti’s piece only appeared in its international edition, and had a qualifying editorial note appended: “This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.” [italics in the original]

 

In retaliation for daring to publish this opinion piece Barghouti was severely punished. He was immediately placed in solitary confinement, has not been allowed to change his clothes for the past month, and is inspected by prison guards four times a day.

 

The notorious Canadian ultra Zionist media watchdog, Honest Reporting, explains on its website that its goal is “defending Israel from media bias.” Honest Reporting expressed its outrage by condemning the NY Times for opening its pages to a convicted Palestinian ‘terrorist.’ It is Orwellinan to so describe Barghouti, a political leader courageously defending his people against an unlawful and oppressive occupation that is approaching its 50th anniversary, and is now best understood as a crime against humanity taking the form of apartheid victimizing the Palestinian people as a whole, and not just those living under occupation. If the Honest Reporting was indeed honest it would expose the pronounced media bias in the West shielding Israel from international accountability and obscuring the severity of Palestinian grievances under international law and morality.

 

The world media treatment of this massive Palestinian strike is typical, although nevertheless disappointing. It gives meager attention to the dramatic character of such a prison protest that has continued for over a month, stimulating many solidarity demonstrations throughout occupied Palestine, a sympathy 24-hour hunger strike by South Africans including the prominent Deputy President Cyril Rhamaposa, and widespread shows of support throughout the Palestinian diaspora. The reaction of the Palestinian Authority has been evasive, with Abbas giving a token show of public support for prisoner goals, while letting it be known privately that he hopes the strike will end as soon as possible.

 

The behavior of the Israeli Prison Service is an indirect confirmation of prisoner discontent. In a sadistic taunt, Israeli settlers were allowed to have a barbecue in the parking lot in front of one of the prisons, apparently mocking the hunger strikers with the pungent aroma of meat being grilled. Worse than this, a fake video was distributed by prison official purporting to show Barghouti having a snack in his cell. This effort to discredit the strike and its leader has been angrily denied. Khader Shkirat, Barghouti’s lawyer, explained that there was no way food could be smuggled to someone in solitary, especially with frequent room searches. It was finally conceded by prison officials that food was delivered to Barghouti’s cell by prison guards trying unsuccessfully to tempt him to break the fast. Barghouti on his side responded via his lawyer, “I plan to escalate my hunger strike soon. There is no backtracking. We will continue until the end.” Barghouti, 58, has according to the last report has lost 29 pounds since the start of the strike, and now weighs 119, planning to refuse even water.

 

Even if this dire commitment is not carried through to a potentially grim finality it will not tarnish the significance of what has been undertaken, and the great reluctance of the world to focus its attention on such a display of nonviolent martyrdom. This is not the first Palestinian prison strike motivated by abusive prison conditions and instances of administrative detention, arresting and jailing without any formal charges. But it appears to be the most consequential due to the participation of Marwan Barghouti along with so many other Palestinian prisoners as well as producing many displays of solidarity beyond the prison walls.

 

As Ramzy Baroud has pointed out in an Al Jazeera article published on May 10, 2017, the strike, although putting forth demands relating to prison conditions, is really a reflection of the underlying ordeal, what he refers to as “the very reality of Palestinian life”; it is above all “a call for unity against factionalism and Israeli occupation.” The distractions created by the Trump presidency, Brexit and the rise of the European right-wing, and turmoil in the Middle East have given Israel’s leadership the political space to push their expansionist agenda toward an imposed outcome of one Jewish state imposing its will on two distinct peoples. Such an endgame for this version of colonialist displacement and subjugation of the indigenous majority population will extend Palestinian suffering in the short-run, but will over time undermine Israeli security and stability, and bring the long Palestine nightmare to an end.

 

The British leadership finally appreciated their own interests, forging a political compromise in Northern Ireland in the form of the Good Friday Agreement, which while fragile and imperfect, has mostly spared Catholics and Protestants further bloodshed. Will the Israeli and U.S. leadership grow responsive to the moral and legal imperatives that call for a sustainable and just peace between these two peoples before the political imperative of such an essential outcome assume more menacing forms?

 

Against all expectations, the South African leadership did eventually become so responsive, but only after enough pressure was exerted internally and internationally. The South African leadership produced a new dawn by releasing its prime ‘terrorist’ inmate, Nelson Mandela, from prison, and the rest is history. Marwan Barghouti is clearly available to play such an historical role in relation to Israel. It will be a tragedy if Zionist ambitions and American led geopolitics preclude this from happening! The road to peace for Israel is the similar to the road to peace for apartheid South Africa: dismantle the apartheid regime that now dominates and discriminates against the Palestinian people on a systematic and totalizing basis. Such a projected future may seem a dream, but dreams can be made to come true through the dynamics of a struggle for justice. If so, we may look back on Barghouti’s hunger strike as the beginning of a winning Palestinian endgame.

 

It is important that we appreciate that a hunger strike is not only a pure form of nonviolence, but is also a self-inflicted sacrifice by those who seek to exhibit their opposition to the existing state of affairs in this manner, hoping to create conditions that produce change. It is an extreme type of resistance that in its essence is an appeal to the conscience and compassion of its opponents and public opinion generally. As Gandhi found out in racist South Africa, if that conscience and compassion are not sufficiently present within a given society such tactics are futile, and violent resistance becomes the only alternative to submission and despair. Israel has been repeatedly challenged by the Palestinians to do the right thing, but responds increasingly by treating all of its adversaries as ‘terrorists’ regardless of their behavior, while itself continuing to defy international law thereby denying the most fundamental rights to the Palestinian people and repeatedly relying on excessive force to safeguard its dominance.

Irish Recollections: After the Cork Conference on ‘International Law and the State of Israel’

14 Apr

 

 

Having recently spent several days at a very intense academic conference held in seductive Cork gave me the opportunity to reflect upon earlier experiences in Ireland, admittedly an unabashedly self-indulgent diversion. I realize that this will probably disappoint most regular blog readers who subscribe either to vent their strong disagreement with my views, often accompanied by harsh assaults on my character or personality, or by those likeminded persons who share enough of a common understanding of what it means for our species to exist in biopolitical end time to find this website congenial enough to stay connected. On this occasion I am admittedly exploring the depths of autobiographical banality to take advantage of the relationship between Ireland and my own highly individual end time, as well as an earlier period of my life when dark cosmic thoughts rarely clouded my inner space.

This reflective mood was further stimulated a few days ago by an interview to be broadcast sometime soon on a Cork radio station. The interview was conducted by the kind of personable Irish young woman with dancing eyes that we dream about: She seems to dwell in realms of gleeful immediacy as imprudently as a wayward leprechaun. After a longish exchange about the visit and the visitor she poses questions of more current interest, in this instance, about the conference that brought me to the city of Cork for the first time ever. This academic event was indeed a rather unusual occurrence for this serene and magical place, one of the oldest, yet small scale, urban habitats in all of Europe. The conference [“International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism, and Repsponsibility”] that brought me to Cork was treated as sufficiently controversial to have been cancelled the two prior years in England, specifically at the University of Southampton whose administrators yielded to heavy pressures exerted by pro-Israeli Jewish groups. With exceptional perseverance, the Southampton conveners, determined not to be silenced, teamed up with colleagues at the University of Cork, and despite some minor friction with Irish university administrators, went ahead with the conference. It took place between March 31 and April 2 without a single disruptive glitch, three long days of serious discussion exemplifying the highest ideals and spirit of academic freedom. I will comment further about this happy outcome toward the end of this post, but in the meantime, I will without further wimpish evasion, walk softly upon the thin ice of my Irish past.

 

My earliest contact with Irish sensibility was undoubtedly my most profound. From the ages of two or three until eleven or twelve, my almost continuous companion was a young Irish woman, Bridie Horan, a recent immigrant to the U.S. from County Kerry, who became more of a mother to me than my biological mother who was supremely unmotherly, a quality undoubtedly accentuated by a strained marriage with my father that led to their separation, which was quickly followed by a Nevada divorce well before I was seven. During this period we moved twice, once to the countryside from mid-Manhattan, and then a year or two later back to an adjacent apartment building in New York City half a block away. Both buildings fronted Central Park, between 64th and 65th streets, and both had good views of the park. The earlier apartment building, 50 Central Park West, was the setting for the film “Four Men and a Baby.”

 

From this childhood experience, I remember particularly being taken quite often by Bridie to the neighborhood Catholic Church, absorbed by the ritual of the Mass, but performed in Latin, I didn’t grasp the religious symbolism. I did develop an appreciation of religious mystery and the power of communities of faith. In these years this was my only exposure to religious practice. My parents were totally assimilated Jews who never bothered to explain what that meant, nor did they exhibit any ethnic consciousness associated with Jewish tradition, Yiddish language, and a cultural understanding of what it meant to be a Jew in American society in the 1930s.

 

I was especially impressed by the devoutness of those devotees who daily approached the altar to receive communion. Bridie was among those who stood in line to receive a wafer and a sip of wine from a silver chalice, but she never explained why or what. It was clearly an organic part of her fragile identity, which was torn from its deep Irish roots. She retained strong nationalist feelings for Ireland, but I do not recall her speaking of her Irish life or family. She expressed hostility toward the British who terrorized her community, sending notorious colonial troops known as ‘the black and tans’ tasked with subduing the rebellious Irish.

 

I didn’t realize until now that this was my first exposure to anti-colonial struggle, but at the time it seemed to me something distant and unreal. As a somewhat loutish child I teased Bridie until tears came to her eyes by praising Winston Churchill, who as colonial overlord personified for her British cruelty to the Irish. Bridie also daily escorted me back and forth to the Ethical Cultural School a half block away where I was enrolled in pre-kindergarten from the age of three. She was very Irish in her temperament and way of speaking, and remains a vivid remembrance brought to life while in Cork.

 

Bridie would also take me to visit friends of hers, presenting me as if her own child, a feeling that I remember enjoying at the time without much thought about what this meant. After the divorce of my parents and my mother’s departure, first for NYC, and later California, I lived briefly with my father in Pound Ridge, NY, near Stamford, Connecticut, for a year or so, before we returned to New York. We lived in a rather modern house far from the nearest neighbor, representing it seemed a final effort to save a doomed marriage. What I remember most from this period of rural isolation was acute loneliness, a fear of snakes, affection for snowscapes, wiling away hours hitting a jai-lai ball against the garage wall, and an early minor talent in basement table tennis. I was so alone that I even listened to news broadcasts, recalling now the excited voice of network commentators describing the the onset of World War II, signaled by the attack of Germany and the Soviet Union on Poland, followed by the German attack on the Soviet Union. I had the most minimal comprehension of what was transpiring beyond a vague realization that something historically significant was unfolding. What this war meant was completely unreal to me at the time, and Bridie was probably as confused as I was, doing little to help me grasp this epochal turn of events. When the American entry into war occurred in 1941, I recall listening to a radio broadcast a few days after the war started that warned of an expected German air attack against New York reported as being only hours away. Before realizing that it was a false alarm, I felt no fear, and a kind of ill-defined disappointment that the attack never happened, disclosing my perverse ignorance of the horrors of warfare. At this time, maybe a result of wartime tensions, Bridie later ran afoul of my father for reasons that were never clear, and likely were connected with personal feelings gone astray. My father insisted that Bridie had built up an obsessive desire for a close relationship with him, but I never heard her version. His story was that it became impossible to juggle a responsible childrearing framework with an intimate connection that he denied wanting. I mourned the loss of this original Irish connection, and for weeks suffered from the loss of the only female that touched me deeply during those childhood years. It was a broken connection never to be restored.

 

Long before I went to Ireland or ever read a serious book I had a short adolescent acquaintance with Stephen Joyce, grandson of the great James Joyce, son of Helen Joyce married to the author’s son, and the sister of one of my father’s closest and most unconventional friends, Robert Kastor. I recall being told that Helen would read to the famous Irish writer as he was losing his eyesight. I remember Stephen as a congenial boy, but later lost touch with him. I was told by an Irish diplomat at Cork that Stephen grew to be a wily adult who pursued business interests linked to his grandfather’s legacy, which may or may not have been true. Perhaps, my visit to the Dublin home of Joyce twenty-five years ago and a devotional reading of Ullyses, as well as Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, allowed me to see Ireland through the impassioned prose, flow of consciousness, and extraordinary literary rendering of the Irish imaginary by Joyce.

 

Then came Yeats and Sean MacBride, each imparting distinctive dimensions of the Irish experience, and linked through the mystery of Sean’s mother, Maud Gonne, who seemed to provide Yeats with romantic inspiration tempered by his impassioned rejection of her political alignments and aspirations. As a young adult I came to regard Yeats as the greatest poetic voice of our time, and the one that resonates most with my own somewhat pathetic strivings that persist to this day.

 

I had three significant contacts with Sean MacBride (winner of Nobel Peace Prize in 1974; Lenin Peace Prize in 1975) each of which seemed peculiarly relevant to the substantive side of this recent visit to Ireland. The first of these occurred early in 1968 when Sean was Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists, a widely respected NGO with headquarters in Geneva. There was an impending trial of 35 political and cultural leaders of what was then called South West Africa, a territory held as a Mandate by South Africa, since independence known as Namibia. I had been asked by defense counsel to be an expert witness, an invitation that probably resulted from my role as part of the defense team that represented Liberia and Ethiopia in the International Court of Justice in a 1964-65 case focused on whether the extension of apartheid to South West Africa violated the trust relationship between South Africa as mandatory power and these two former members of the League of Nations who had the authority to raise such legal questions. The decision rendered in 1965 shocked the UN, actually supporting the basic claim of South Africa that it was acting in accord with its obligations under the mandate in good faith by doing in South West Africa what it did with respect to race relations in its own country under the heading of ‘separate development’ of distinct races. The General Assembly reacted to this decision that flaunted the moral and political anti-apartheid consensus by revoking the South African mandate, and granting independence to South West Aftrica, since known as Namibia.

 

The South African Government obviously didn’t want my participation in the trial in Pretoria as an expert witness, delaying indefinitely a decision on whether or not issue a visa. Assuming that the visa would not be issued, the defense shifted tactics, requesting that the International Commission of Jurists (a respected NGO supportive of the rule of law) designate me as an official observer of what was anticipated to be a political trial. Sean’s father, Major John MacBride, who fought on the Afrikaaner side in the Boer War, and later executed by the British due to his activist role in support of Irish revolutionary nationalism, used family connections with South African leaders to arrange my visa. It was a memorable experience, especially as the trial coincided with the Tet Offensive in Vietnam that reshaped the mainstream approach to the Vietnam War in the United States, but would be a diversion to discuss here. What was relevant to my time at Cork was this earlier exposure to apartheid as a system of discriminatory oppression in the South African context, as well as the recollection of Sean MacBride’s unlikely facilitative link that enabled me to observe and report upon the trial. My report to the International Commission of Jurists on the various horrors of the trial and the heroics of the defendants was condemned by a South African government spokesperson, observing that I wrote with ‘a poison pen’ making me subject to criminal prosecution if I dared to return to South Africa. I took this criticism as a compliment, some sense that my reportage was on target.

 

My second link to MacBride was associated with a fact-finding commission set up in Britain to investigate Israeli war crimes associated with the 1982 attack on Lebanon, including the siege of Beirut. I was invited to be Vice Chair of the Commission, and became acting Chair when Sean’s health made it impossible for him to make the trip to Lebanon and Israel to assess the evidence. The rest of us came to the Lebanese port of Jounieh by ship from Cyprus, and as we entered the harbor, there were young Lebanese women water skiing, while we could hear gunfire from the other side of the hills in the Beirut area. Again the experience was quite extraordinary as Beirut was under Israeli siege, the Maronite leader then President-elect of Lebanon, Bachir Geymayel, was assassinated, and several days later the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps occurred with guidance and support of Israeli invading forces headed by Ariel Sharon. Returning to London, Sean took charge of the discussions leading up to the submission of our report that found Israel responsible for a series of major violations of the laws of war. Our initiative came to be known as the MacBride Commission, the report was a collective effort, with the initial draft prepared by Kader Asmal, who was living in Dublin in exile from South Africa at the time, dean of the faculty at the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, a prominent figure in the Irish anti-apartheid campaign, and later a principal author of the South African Constitution. [published under title Report of the International Commission to enquire into reported violations of International Law by Israel during its invasion of the Lebanon (London: Ithaca Press, 1983)] Kader became the only Indian member of the cabinet formed by Nelson Mandela after his election at President of South Africa. I became a lifelong friend of Kader as a result of sharing this experience, and maintained close contact until his death a few years ago, a tragic loss on many levels of personal and public engagement.

 

The third and final link with MacBride was to serve under his chairmanship as a participant in a civil society initiative known as the London Nuclear War Tribunal held in London, 1985. In addition to Sean and myself, Dorothy Hodgkin (Nobel Prize, chemistry, 1964) and Maurice Wilkins (Nobel Prize, medicine, 1962). The proceedings involved a comprehensive inquiry into the status of nuclear weapons in relation to customary international law, and produced a declaration and series of findings and recommendations that remain relevant at present. [For the full account see Geoffrey Darnton, ed., Nuclear Weapons and International Law: From the London Nuclear Warfare Tribunal (Bournesmouth, UK: Peace Analytics, 2nd ed. 2015)].

 

There are other recollections of Ireland based on several visits to Dublin. Perhaps, the most memorable was participation with the late Fred Halliday at a conference in 1996 on the sociology and politics of terrorism that was partly held under the auspices of the army of the Republic of Ireland. After the conference there was a dinner at the army headquarters, and I was greeted on my entry to the building by a full-length portrait of William Butler Yeats. Although an ardent cultural nationalist, Yeats was a relatively conservative figure in the Irish struggle for independence, and is celebrated around the world for the lyric universality of spirit embodied so enduringly in his poetry. I continue to feel that only in Ireland would that sense of nationalism and national security become merged with reverence for a poet of global stature so displayed by the country’s armed forces.

 

Actually, the most memorable part of the experience came during dinner. I was seated next to the commander-in-chief of the army of Ireland. Midway through the dinner a waiter handed the general a note, which reported the major IRA bomb exploded in the city center of Manchester, England. His only words at the time were “I guess I won’t be going home this weekend.” Apparently, military officers could normally spend weekends with their families.

 

All of this as background to my days in Cork, culminating in the conference partly held in the City Hall of Cork (due to a compromise with university officials under Zionist pro-Israeli pressures of the sort that had led to University of Southampton cancellations), with the third and final day held on the new campus of the University of Cork, one of Europe’s most venerable universities. The extraordinary perseverance and good will of Oren Ben-Dor, a historian on the faculty at Southampton, and the willingness of the Irish organizing team at Cork to withstand the usual pressures, allowed the conference to go forward without incident.

 

The conference consisted of three long days of high quality academic presentations that were organized as panels with ample time for audience participation. It was a lively participatory audience whose member posed challenging and probing questions. I was the first of two keynote speakers (the other was Ugo Mattei, a very imaginative Italian legal scholar who insisted that there was no solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict without taking account of the broader context of neoliberal capitalism and geopolitical militarism, a position I regarded as extremely important). My talk focused on the significance of the recently released UN report, co-authored with Virginia Tilley, on Israel as an apartheid state. The basic policy contention derived from the report, which can be found on the website of this blog, is that 50 years after the 1967 War it is more appropriate to call for ‘ending apartheid’ rather than continue to mouth the slogan ‘end the occupation.’ This conceptual move is significant for at least two reasons: as signifying a shift from ‘territory’ to ‘people,’ and as a belated acknowledgement that the Palestinians as a whole (including those in refugee camps and exile, minority in Israel, and those residing in Jerusalem) are being subjugated by an Israel regime or structure of apartheid that fragments, discriminates, and dominates on the basis of race, and violates relevant international legal norms.

 

There is much more that could be said about this conference, rich in ideas and devoted to a search for a sustainable peace for both peoples on the basis of equality in form and substance. Although there was considerable attention paid to the illegitimacy of Israeli state formation, the emphasis of the conference was on finding a just peace for the future rather than dwelling upon the necessity to redress past grievances. At the same time, the past could and should not be ignored. Palestinian wounds will not heal until there a credible reconciliation process is established that includes Israeli official acknowledgements of historic wrongdoing centered on the nakba, conceived of as a process of dispossession, displacement, and domination.

 

Is Israel an Apartheid State?

26 Mar

[Prefatory Note: This post was originally published on March 22, 2017 by The Nation under the title “The Inside Story of Our UN Report Calling Israel an Apartheid State,” the text of which can be found at this link: https://www.thenation.com/article/the-inside-story-on-our-un-report-calling-israel-an-apartheid-state/ What is below is somewhat modified.]

 

 

Is Israel an Apartheid State?

 

Six months ago, the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) asked Virginia Tilley and me to write a study examining the applicability of the international criminal law concept of apartheid to Israel’s policies and practices toward the Palestinian people. We were glad to accept the assignment, and conceived of our role as engaging in an academic undertaking. ESCWA, one of several UN regional commissions, requested the study as a result of an uncontested motion adopted by its 18 Arab member governments.

Almost within hours of its release on March 15, our report [bearing the title “Israel’s Practices Toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”] was greeted by what can only be described as hysteria and derision. The newly appointed US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, denounced the report and demanded that the UN repudiate it. The newly elected Secretary General, Antonió Guterres, quickly and publicly called for ESCWA to withdraw the report from its website, and when Rima Khalaf, the head of the commission, resisted, Guterres insisted. Rather than comply, Khalaf resigned, explaining her reasons in a gracious, principled letter to the Secretary General, an eloquent expression of public conscience that is itself extremely rare in UN experience and worthy of the most favorable notice and commentary. [for text of letter see Soon thereafter, the report was withdrawn from the commission’s website, despite containing a very clear disclaimer at its outset noting that the report represents the views of its authors and not necessarily that of ESCWA or the UN.

 

What is striking about this pattern of action and reaction, which resembles in many respects the US government response to the Goldstone Report (the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict of 2008-9), is the degree to which Israel’s officials and supporters, in response to criticism, have sought to discredit and wound the messenger rather than address the message by offering a detailed substantive explanation and defense. Each time such a technique succeeds in this mission of discrediting, wounding, and diverting attention the role of the UN as a promoter of the public good is weakened, and the Organization becomes rather an instrument by which dominant geopolitical forces assert their will at the expense of truth, reason, and human wellbeing.

 

Virginia Tilley, a professor of political science at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a leading world expert on apartheid, and I, as well as ESCWA, would welcome substantive discussion and critical feedback, and we had hoped that our analysis and conclusions would provide the basis for debate, dialogue, and further consideration of the recommendations appended at the end. ESCWA, for its part, took steps to ensure that the report lived up to scholarly standards, submitting the draft text to three prominent international jurists, who had been anonymously solicited to offer objective vetting. Each submitted a strong positive appraisal along with suggestions for revision, which we gratefully incorporated before the final text was released. Against this background, it is irresponsible for government officials and others to dismiss our report as a biased polemic, and to do so damages the authority of the UN and respect for international law.

 

It is also misleading to do what the American and Israeli diplomats did, as well as the media– treating this study as if a report officially endorsed by the UN. Such treatment overlooks the disclaimer on the opening page of the report, which clearly states that the analysis and interpretations presented are those of the authors alone, and are not to be attributed to the UN. In effect, it is a document initiated by a UN agency, appraised for quality by reference to scholarly standards, but not adopted nor even endorsed at this point, although this might happen in the future, a step we as authors would welcome.

 

During my tenure as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories (2008-14), I witnessed how defenders of Israel attempted to discredit critics. My reports in that post often included sharp criticisms of Israel and other actors, ranging across various topics including defiance of international law, unlawful expansion of settlements, excessive use of force, and complicity of international corporations and banks that do business for profit with the settlements, and others. To my surprise, I never received substantive pushback regarding these specific allegations, but I did have the unpleasant experience of having my words on completely unrelated issues torn out of context, and brought to the attention of UN high officials and important diplomats representing member states. Among my harshest critics were not only the usual ultra-Zionist NGOs, but also Barack Obama’s diplomats at the UN, including Susan Rice and Samantha Power, as well as then-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. I mention this personal experience only to note that it falls into a longstanding pattern of diversionary rebuttal that prefers to smear rather than engage in reasoned debate about the important issues of law and justice at stake.

 

The international crime of apartheid was authoritatively specified in the 1973 Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. The main elements of the crime consist of deliberate and systematic acts of racial discrimination with the purpose of maintaining unlawful structures of racial domination, that is, a dominant race subjugating another race. Our report also considered whether, in the context of inquiring into the presence of apartheid, it was appropriate to consider Jews and Palestinians as distinct races; we found that there were abundant grounds for doing so. As our report shows, “race” in this legal context is treated as a socially and politically constructed category developed to identify a distinct people. It has no necessary correlation with biogenetic realities, which in this case actually shows an overlap between Jews and Palestinians.

 

Even Palestinian citizens of Israel, who can vote and form political parties, are subject to many discriminatory laws that impair security and the quality of life. The report also proceeds from the proposition that whether apartheid exists or not depends on the overall treatment of the Palestinian people as a whole, and not by accepting the fragmentation that has been imposed by Israel. Adopting what we believe to be an innovative methodology, we approached this challenge by dividing the Palestinians into four domains that correspond to the manner in which Israel has exercises its authority over the course of many decades, although the specific tactics of control vary through time. In the past, a thorough study by international law scholars found that Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories are consistent with apartheid [See Virginia Tilley, ed., Beyond Occupation: apartheid, colonialism and international law in the occupied Palestinian territories [Pluto: London, 2012]. It called attention to the discriminatory treatment of Palestinians, who are subject to military administration as compared to the Jewish settler population, which enjoys the full benefit of the rule of law as it is observed in Israel in relation to Jewish nationals. That study found that “settler-only roads,” dual legal systems, and the draconian separation of the two populations into regions on the basis of race hallmarks of apartheid. Repressive practices that have made the lives of ordinary Palestinians a daily ordeal are a core dimension of this racially organized system of control. It should be also noted that according to preferred readings of international law, penalizing and criminalizing nonviolent forms of resistance to apartheid itself constitutes the crime of apartheid.

 

A second domain investigated in the report involves Palestinians who are residents of Jerusalem. Here the apartheid character of Israeli rule is exhibited in the way the government of Israel severely undermines the human security of Palestinians living in Jerusalem, manipulating their rights of residence as well as imposing a variety of discriminatory practices, ranging from fiscal measures, demolitions, to the arbitrary withholding of building permits.

 

The third domain deals with the Palestinian minority living in Israel, perhaps the most problematic component in terms of establishing a definition of apartheid that encompasses the entire Palestinian population. In this category are some 1.7 million citizens of Israel, who are allowed to form political parties and vote in elections. But this minority, which makes up about 20 percent of the overall Israeli population, is prohibited by law from challenging the proclaimed Jewish character of the state and is subject to a wide range of discriminatory nationality laws as well as administrative practices that severely restrict their rights, with effects on land acquisition, property, immigration, family reunification, and marital freedom.

International law has detached apartheid from its South African origins; it’s now a stand-alone crime against humanity that does not stand or fall by whether it contains similar features to those that constituted the apartheid regime in South Africa.

 

A fourth domain, and the one affecting the largest demographic segment, is made up of Palestinians registered as refugees by UN procedures or living under conditions of involuntary exile. In the background is Israel’s rejection of UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948), which confirms that Palestinians dispossessed or displaced by Israel in 1948 enjoy a right of return. General Assembly Resolution 3236 declares this right of return or repatriation to be an “inalienable right,” which thus presumably incorporates those additional several hundred thousand Palestinians later displaced by the 1967 war. As far as is known, no Palestinian displaced since the establishment of Israel in 1948 has been granted a right of return to resume residence.

 

The report argues that the crime of apartheid has been detached from its historical origins in South Africa. Neither the 1973 Convention nor the 1998 Rome Statute underlying the International Criminal Court ties apartheid to South Africa, but rather treats its practice as a stand-alone crime against humanity. Thus, there are important differences between the way apartheid operated in South Africa and the way it is currently being imposed on the Palestinians, but these differences are not relevant to the question of whether it fairly and accurately applies to Israel. One notable difference is that in South Africa the Afrikaner leadership forthrightly proclaimed apartheid as a reflection of its ideological belief in the separation of races, whereas for Israel such a structure of separation on the basis of race is denied and repudiated, and its attribution is treated as an inflammatory insult. There are other differences as well, relating to degrees of labor dependence and the demographic ratio between Jews and Palestinians.

 

This quasi-permanent structure of domination cannot be justified or explained by reference to Israel’s legitimate security needs.

Our report concludes that Israel has deliberately fragmented the Palestinian people in relation to these four demographic domains, relying on systematic discrimination, including “inhuman acts,” primarily to maintain its control and render resistance more difficult, while continuing to expand territorially at the expense of prospects for Palestinian self-determination. On the basis of these findings—backed up by detailed presentations of empirical data, including reliance on Israeli official sources—we conclude that the allegation of apartheid as applied to the Palestinian people is well founded and descriptive of the present situation, more so than the terminology of occupation.

 

As earlier suggested, we are keenly aware that our report is the work of academic investigators and does not represent an authoritative finding of apartheid by a formal judicial or governmental institution. As mentioned—contrary to media coverage and diplomatic denunciations—the report has never been endorsed or accepted by the UN, or even ESCWA. We do recommend such an endorsement, and we urge the UN, national governments, and civil society to take measures designed to encourage Israel to dismantle its apartheid regime and treat the Palestinian people in accord with the dictates of international law and human rights, as well as elementary morality.

 

The broader setting associated with our contention that Israel has become an apartheid state draws on the reality that there is no peaceful resolution to the conflict on the diplomatic horizon, and thus no foreseeable prospect for ending the discriminatory regime and the attendant suffering of the Palestinian people. This quasi-permanent structure of domination cannot be justified indefinitely by invoking Israeli security needs, which are themselves partly created by the unwillingness of Israel to respect Palestinian rights under international law. A people cannot be permanently repressed in by military force and administrative coercion ways without viewing the structure that has emerged as an apartheid regime. Indeed, part of the reason for not awaiting a more formal assessment of these charges of apartheid is our sense of urgency in ending a set of arrangements that have for so long been responsible for so much suffering and denial of basic rights, above all the right of self-determination.

 

It remains our central hope, one shared with ESCWA, that the widespread availability of this report will lead to a clearer understanding of the Palestinian plight and encourage more effective responses by the UN, by governments, and by civil society. Beyond this, it is our continuing wish that people of good will throughout the world, especially within Israel, will work toward a political solution that will finally allow Jews and Palestinians to live together in peace, with justice.

 

 

 

UN Sponsored Report on Israel’s Responsibility for Apartheid in relation to the Palestinian People

19 Mar

[Prefatory Note: Below is the text of a report co-authored by Virginia Tilley and myself, commissioned by the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) that examines the argument for regarding Israel as an ‘apartheid state’ with respect to the whole of the Palestinian people, that is, not only those Palestinians living under occupation, but also those living as residents of Jerusalem, those living as a minority in Israel, and those enduring refugee camps and involuntary exile. The report concludes that Israel is guilty of the continuing crime of apartheid as it is defined in the 1973 Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. The report reviews the evidence for such a finding, and offers recommendation for acting upon such a conclusion within the United Nations, by national governments, and by civil society. Upon the release of the report on March 15, 2017 there was an immediate reaction of condemnation by American and Israeli representatives at the UN, including calls for its removal from the UN website and the repudiation of the report. The Executive Secretary of ESCWA, Rima Khalaf, has resigned after refusing to remove the report from the ESCWA website, and has made strongly supportive statements about the quality of the report as issued. It should be noted, as stated below, that the report is an independent academic work that has at the present time been neither endorsed or repudiated by any part of the UN System. It is the hope of the authors that the report encourages debate and action that deepens involvement with the Palestinian quest for a just peace and the end to their prolonged ordeal of suffering; it is also our hope that the study will be taken seriously within Israel itself.]

 

 

Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia

Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

Palestine and the Israeli Occupation, Issue No. 1

E/ESCWA/ECRI/2017/1

Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)

Israeli Practices towards
the Palestinian People
and the Question of Apartheid

Palestine and the Israeli Occupation, Issue No. 1

United Nations

Beirut, 2017

© 2017 United Nations
All rights reserved worldwide

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All queries on rights and licenses, including subsidiary rights, should be addressed to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), e-mail: publications-escwa@un.org.

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United Nations publication issued by ESCWA, United Nations House, Riad El Solh Square, P.O. Box: 11-8575, Beirut, Lebanon.

Website: http://www.unescwa.org.

Acknowledgements

This report was commissioned by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) from authors Mr. Richard Falk and Ms. Virginia Tilley.

Richard Falk (LLB, Yale University; SJD, Harvard University) is currently Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global and International Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara, and Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice Emeritus at Princeton University. From 2008 through 2014, he served as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. He is author or editor of some 60 books and hundreds of articles on international human rights law, Middle East politics, environmental justice, and other fields concerning human rights and international relations.

Virginia Tilley (MA and PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and MA in Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University) is Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University. From 2006 to 2011, she served as Chief Research Specialist in the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa
and from 2007 to 2010 led the Council’s Middle East Project, which undertook
a two-year study of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories. In addition to many articles on the politics and ideologies of the conflict in Israel-Palestine, she is author of The One-State Solution (University of Michigan Press and Manchester University Press, 2005) and editor of Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Pluto Press, 2012).

This report benefited from the general guidance of Mr. Tarik Alami, Director of the Emerging and Conflict-Related Issues (ECRI) Division at ESCWA. Mr. Rabi’ Bashour (ECRI) coordinated the report, contributed to defining its scope and provided editorial comments, planning and data. Ms. Leila Choueiri provided substantive and editorial inputs. Ms. Rita Jarous (ECRI), Mr. Sami Salloum and Mr. Rafat Soboh (ECRI), provided editorial comments and information, as well as technical assistance. Mr. Damien Simonis (ESCWA, Conference Services Section) edited

the report.

iv | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

Appreciation is extended to the blind reviewers for their valuable input.

We also acknowledge the authors of and contributors to Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A Reassessment of Israel’s Practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories under International Law, whose work informed this report (see annex I) and was published in 2012 as Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Preface

The authors of this report, examining whether Israel has established an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole, fully appreciate the sensitivity of the question.1 Even broaching the issue has been denounced by spokespersons of the Israeli Government and many of its supporters as anti-Semitism in a new guise. In 2016, Israel successfully lobbied for the inclusion of criticism of Israel in laws against anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States of America, and background documents to those legal instruments list the apartheid charge as one example of attempts aimed at “destroying Israel’s image and isolating it as a pariah State”.2

The authors reject the accusation of anti-Semitism in the strongest terms. First, the question of whether the State of Israel is constituted as an apartheid regime springs from the same body of international human rights law and principles that rejects anti-Semitism: that is, the prohibition of racial discrimination. No State is immune from the norms and rules enshrined in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which must be applied impartially. The prohibition of apartheid, which, as a crime against humanity, can admit no exceptions, flows from the Convention. Strengthening that body of international law can only benefit all groups that have historically endured discrimination, domination and persecution, including Jews.

1 This report was prepared in response to a request made by member States of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) at the first meeting of its Executive Committee, held in Amman on 8 and 9 June 2015. Preliminary findings of the report were presented to the twenty-ninth session of ESCWA, held in Doha from 13 to 15 December 2016. As a result, member States passed resolution 326 (XXIX) of 15 December 2016, in which they requested that the secretariat “publish widely the results of the study”.

2 Coordinating Forum for Countering Antisemitism (CFCA): FAQ: the campaign to defame Israel. Available from http://antisemitism.org.il/eng/FAQ:%20The%20campaign%20to%20defame%20Israel. The CFCA is an Israeli Government “national forum”. “The new anti-Semitism” has become the term used to equate criticism of Israeli racial policies with anti- Semitism, especially where such criticism extends to proposing that the ethnic premise of Jewish statehood is illegitimate, because it violates international human rights law. The European Union Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism has accordingly included in its working definition of anti-Semitism the following example: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavour” (see http://www.antisem.eu/projects/eumc-working-definition-of-antisemitism). In 2016, the United States passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, in which the definition of anti-Semitism is that set forth by the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti- Semitism of the Department of State in a fact sheet of 8 June 2010. Examples of anti-Semitism listed therein include: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.” (Available from https://2009- 2017.state.gov/documents/organization/156684.pdf).

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vi | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

Secondly, the situation in Israel-Palestine constitutes an unmet obligation of the organized international community to resolve a conflict partially generated by its own actions. That obligation dates formally to 1922, when the League of Nations established the British Mandate for Palestine as a territory eminently ready for independence as an inclusive secular State, yet incorporated into the Mandate the core pledge of the Balfour Declaration to support the “Jewish people” in their efforts to establish in Palestine a “Jewish national home”.3 Later United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions attempted to resolve the conflict generated by that arrangement, yet could not prevent related proposals, such as partition, from being overtaken by events on the ground. If this attention to the case of Israel by the United Nations appears exceptional, therefore, it is only because no comparable linkage exists between United Nations actions and any other prolonged denial to a people of their right of self-determination.

Thirdly, the policies, practices and measures applied by Israel to enforce a system of racial discrimination threaten regional peace and security. United Nations resolutions have long recognized that danger and called for resolution of the conflict so as to restore and maintain peace and stability in the region.

To assert that the policies and practices of a sovereign State amount to apartheid constitutes a grave charge. A study aimed at making such a determination should be undertaken and submitted for consideration only when supporting evidence clearly exceeds reasonable doubt. The authors of this report believe that evidence for suspecting that a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people meets such a demanding criterion. Given the protracted suffering of the Palestinian people, it would be irresponsible not to present the evidence and legal arguments regarding whether Israel has established an apartheid regime that oppresses the Palestinian people as a whole, and not to make recommendations for appropriate further action by international and civil society actors.

In sum, this study was motivated by the desire to promote compliance with international human rights law, uphold and strengthen international criminal law, and ensure that the collective responsibilities of the United Nations and its Member States with regard to crimes against humanity are fulfilled. More concretely, it aims to see the core commitments of the international community to upholding international law applied to the case of the Palestinian people, in defence of its rights under international law, including the right of self-determination.

3 The Council of the League of Nations, League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, December 1922, article 2. Available from http://www.mandateforpalestine.org/the-mandate.html.

Contents

Acknowledgements iii Preface v Executive Summary 1 Introduction 9

1. The Legal Context: Short History of the Prohibition of Apartheid 11

Alternative definitions of apartheid 12

2. Testing for an Apartheid Regime in Israel-Palestine 27

A. The political geography of apartheid 27 B. Israel as a racial State 30 C. Apartheid through fragmentation 37 D. Counter-arguments 48

3. Conclusions and Recommendations 51

A. Conclusions 51 B. Recommendations 52

Annexes

I. Findings of the 2009 HSRC Report 57 II. Which Country? 63

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Executive Summary

This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness
of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law.

The analysis in this report rests on the same body of international human rights law and principles that reject anti-Semitism and other racially discriminatory ideologies, including: the Charter of the United Nations (1945), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965). The report relies for its definition of apartheid primarily on article II of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973, hereinafter the Apartheid Convention):

The term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to… inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.

Although the term “apartheid” was originally associated with the specific instance of South Africa, it now represents a species of crime against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, according to which:

“The crime of apartheid” means 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.

Against that background, this report reflects the expert consensus that the prohibition of apartheid is universally applicable and was not rendered moot by the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia).

2 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

The legal approach to the matter of apartheid adopted by this report should not be confused with usage of the term in popular discourse as an expression of opprobrium. Seeing apartheid as discrete acts and practices (such as the “apartheid wall”), a phenomenon generated by anonymous structural conditions like capitalism (“economic apartheid”), or private social behaviour on the part of certain racial groups towards others (social racism) may have its place

in certain contexts. However, this report anchors its definition of apartheid in international law, which carries with it responsibilities for States, as specified in international instruments.

The choice of evidence is guided by the Apartheid Convention, which sets forth that the crime of apartheid consists of discrete inhuman acts, but that such acts acquire the status of crimes against humanity only if they intentionally serve
the core purpose of racial domination. The Rome Statute specifies in its definition the presence of an “institutionalized regime” serving the “intention” of racial domination. Since “purpose” and “intention” lie at the core of both definitions, this report examines factors ostensibly separate from the Palestinian dimension — especially, the doctrine of Jewish statehood as expressed in law and the design

of Israeli State institutions — to establish beyond doubt the presence of such a core purpose.

That the Israeli regime is designed for this core purpose was found to be evident in the body of laws, only some of which are discussed in the report for reasons of scope. One prominent example is land policy. The Israeli Basic Law (Constitution) mandates that land held by the State of Israel, the Israeli Development Authority or the Jewish National Fund shall not be transferred in any manner, placing its management permanently under their authority. The State Property Law of 1951 provides for the reversion of property (including land) to the State in any area

“in which the law of the State of Israel applies”. The Israel Lands Authority (ILA) manages State land, which accounts for 93 per cent of the land within the internationally recognized borders of Israel and is by law closed to use, development or ownership by non-Jews. Those laws reflect the concept of “public purpose” as expressed in the Basic Law. Such laws may be changed by Knesset vote, but the Basic Law: Knesset prohibits any political party from challenging that public purpose. Effectively, Israeli law renders opposition to racial domination illegal.

Demographic engineering is another area of policy serving the purpose of maintaining Israel as a Jewish State. Most well known is Israeli law conferring on Jews worldwide the right to enter Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship regardless of their countries of origin and whether or not they can show links to Israel-Palestine,

while withholding any comparable right from Palestinians, including those with documented ancestral homes in the country. The World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency are vested with legal authority as agencies of the State of Israel to facilitate Jewish immigration and preferentially serve the interests of Jewish citizens in matters ranging from land use to public development planning and other matters deemed vital to Jewish statehood. Some laws involving demographic engineering are expressed in coded language, such as those that allow Jewish councils to reject applications for residence from Palestinian citizens. Israeli law normally allows spouses of Israeli citizens to relocate to Israel but uniquely prohibits this option in the case of Palestinians from the occupied territory or beyond. On a far larger scale, it is a matter of Israeli policy to reject the return of any Palestinian refugees and exiles (totalling some six million people) to territory under Israeli control.

Two additional attributes of a systematic regime of racial domination must be present to qualify the regime as an instance of apartheid. The first involves the identification of the oppressed persons as belonging to a specific “racial group”. This report accepts the definition of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of “racial discrimination” as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”. On that basis, this report argues that in the geopolitical context of Palestine, Jews and Palestinians can be considered “racial groups”. Furthermore, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is cited expressly in the Apartheid Convention.

The second attribute is the boundary and character of the group or groups involved. The status of the Palestinians as a people entitled to exercise the
right of self-determination has been legally settled, most authoritatively by
the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its 2004 advisory opinion on Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. On that basis, the report examines the treatment by Israel of the Palestinian people as a whole, considering the distinct circumstances of geographic and juridical fragmentation of the Palestinian people as a condition imposed by Israel. (Annex II addresses the issue of a proper identification of the “country” responsible for the denial of Palestinian rights under international law.)

This report finds that the strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people is the principal method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime. It first examines

Executive Summary | 3

4 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

how the history of war, partition, de jure and de facto annexation and prolonged occupation in Palestine has led to the Palestinian people being divided into different geographic regions administered by distinct sets of law. This fragmentation operates to stabilize the Israeli regime of racial domination over the Palestinians and to weaken the will and capacity of the Palestinian people to mount a unified and effective resistance. Different methods are deployed depending on where Palestinians live. This is the core means by which Israel enforces apartheid and at the same time impedes international recognition of how the system works as a complementary whole to comprise an apartheid regime.

Since 1967, Palestinians as a people have lived in what the report refers to as four “domains”, in which the fragments of the Palestinian population are ostensibly treated differently but share in common the racial oppression that results from the apartheid regime. Those domains are:

  1. Civil law, with special restrictions, governing Palestinians who live as citizens of Israel;
  2. Permanent residency law governing Palestinians living in the city of Jerusalem;
  3. Military law governing Palestinians, including those in refugee camps, living since 1967 under conditions of belligerent occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip;
  4. Policy to preclude the return of Palestinians, whether refugees or exiles, living outside territory under Israel’s control.

Domain 1 embraces about 1.7 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. For the first 20 years of the country’s existence, they lived under martial law and to this day are subjected to oppression on the basis of not being Jewish. That policy of domination manifests itself in inferior services, restrictive zoning laws and limited budget allocations made to Palestinian communities; in restrictions on jobs and professional opportunities; and in the mostly segregated landscape in which Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel live. Palestinian political parties can campaign for minor reforms and better budgets, but are legally prohibited by the Basic Law from challenging legislation maintaining the racial regime. The policy is reinforced by the implications of the distinction made in Israel between “citizenship” (ezrahut) and “nationality” (le’um): all Israeli citizens enjoy the former, but only Jews enjoy the latter. “National” rights in Israeli law signify Jewish-national rights. The struggle of Palestinian citizens of Israel for equality and civil reforms under Israeli law is thus isolated by the regime from that of Palestinians elsewhere.

Domain 2 covers the approximately 300,000 Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, who experience discrimination in access to education, health care, employment, residency and building rights. They also suffer from expulsions
and home demolitions, which serve the Israeli policy of “demographic balance” in favour of Jewish residents. East Jerusalem Palestinians are classified as permanent residents, which places them in a separate category designed to prevent their demographic and, importantly, electoral weight being added to that of Palestinians citizens in Israel. As permanent residents, they have no legal standing to challenge Israeli law. Moreover, openly identifying with Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory politically carries the risk of expulsion to the West Bank and loss of the right even to visit Jerusalem. Thus, the urban epicentre of Palestinian political life is caught inside a legal bubble that curtails its inhabitants’ capacity to oppose the apartheid regime lawfully.

Domain 3 is the system of military law imposed on approximately 4.6 million Palestinians who live in the occupied Palestinian territory, 2.7 million of them in the West Bank and 1.9 million in the Gaza Strip. The territory is administered in a manner that fully meets the definition of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention: except for the provision on genocide, every illustrative “inhuman act” listed in the Convention is routinely and systematically practiced by Israel in the West Bank. Palestinians are governed by military law, while the approximately 350,000 Jewish settlers are governed by Israeli civil law. The racial character of this situation is further confirmed by the fact that all West Bank Jewish settlers enjoy the protections of Israeli civil law on the basis of being Jewish, whether they are Israeli citizens or not. This dual legal system, problematic in itself, is indicative of an apartheid regime when coupled with the racially discriminatory management of land and development administered by Jewish-national institutions, which are charged with administering “State land” in the interest of the Jewish population. In support of the overall findings of this report, annex I sets out in more detail the policies and practices of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory that constitute violations of article II of the Apartheid Convention.

Domain 4 refers to the millions of Palestinian refugees and involuntary exiles, most of whom live in neighbouring countries. They are prohibited from returning to their homes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel defends its rejection
of the Palestinians’ return in frankly racist language: it is alleged that Palestinians constitute a “demographic threat” and that their return would alter the demographic character of Israel to the point of eliminating it as a Jewish State.

The refusal of the right of return plays an essential role in the apartheid regime by ensuring that the Palestinian population in Mandate Palestine does not grow to a point that would threaten Israeli military control of the territory and/or provide the

Executive Summary | 5

6 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

demographic leverage for Palestinian citizens of Israel to demand (and obtain) full democratic rights, thereby eliminating the Jewish character of the State of Israel. Although domain 4 is confined to policies denying Palestinians their right of repatriation under international law, it is treated in this report as integral to the system of oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole, given its crucial role in demographic terms in maintaining the apartheid regime.

This report finds that, taken together, the four domains constitute one comprehensive regime developed for the purpose of ensuring the enduring domination over non-Jews in all land exclusively under Israeli control in whatever category. To some degree, the differences in treatment accorded to Palestinians have been provisionally treated as valid by the United Nations, in the absence of an assessment of whether they constitute a form of apartheid. In the light of this report’s findings, this long-standing fragmented international approach may require review.

In the interests of fairness and completeness, the report examines several counter- arguments advanced by Israel and supporters of its policies denying the applicability of the Apartheid Convention to the case of Israel-Palestine. They include claims that: the determination of Israel to remain a Jewish State is consistent with practices of other States, such as France; Israel does not owe Palestinian non-citizens equal treatment with Jews precisely because they are not citizens; and Israeli treatment of the Palestinians reflects no “purpose” or “intent” to dominate, but rather is a temporary state of affairs imposed on Israel by the realities of ongoing conflict and security requirements. The report shows that none of those arguments stands up to examination. A further claim that Israel cannot be considered culpable for crimes of apartheid because Palestinian citizens of Israel have voting rights rests on two errors of legal interpretation: an overly literal comparison with South African apartheid policy and detachment of the question of voting rights from other laws, especially provisions of the Basic Law that prohibit political parties from challenging the Jewish, and hence racial, character of

the State.

The report concludes that the weight of the evidence supports beyond a reasonable doubt the proposition that Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people, which amounts to the commission of a crime against humanity, the prohibition of which is considered jus cogens in international customary law. The international community, especially the United Nations and its agencies, and Member States, have a legal obligation to act within the limits of their capabilities to prevent and punish instances of apartheid that are responsibly brought to their attention. More specifically, States have a collective

duty: (a) not to recognize an apartheid regime as lawful; (b) not to aid or assist a State in maintaining an apartheid regime; and (c) to cooperate with the United Nations and other States in bringing apartheid regimes to an end. Civil society institutions and individuals also have a moral and political duty to use the instruments at their disposal to raise awareness of this ongoing criminal enterprise, and to exert pressure on Israel in order to persuade it to dismantle apartheid structures in compliance with international law. The report ends with general and specific recommendations to the United Nations, national Governments, and civil society and private actors on actions they should take in view of the finding that Israel maintains a regime of apartheid in its exercise of control over the Palestinian people.

Executive Summary | 7

Introduction

This report examines the practices and policies of Israel with regard to the Palestinian people in its entirety. This is not an arbitrary choice. The legal existence of the “Palestinian people” and its right, as a whole people, to self-determination were confirmed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its advisory opinion on the separation wall in occupied Palestinian territory:1

As regards the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination, the Court observes that the existence of a “Palestinian people” is no longer in issue. Such existence has moreover been recognized by Israel in the exchange of letters of 9 September 1993 between Mr. Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Mr. Yitzhak Rabin, lsraeli Prime Minister. In that correspondence, the President of the PLO recognized “the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security” and made various other commitments. In reply, the Israeli Prime Minister informed him that, in the light of those commitments, “the Government of Israel has decided to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people”. The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 28 September 1995 also refers a number of times to the Palestinian people and its “legitimate rights” (preamble, paras. 4, 7, 8; article II, para. 2; article III, paras. 1 and 3; article XXII, para. 2). The Court considers that those rights include the right to self-determination, as the General Assembly has moreover recognized on a number of occasions (see, for example, resolution 58/163 of 22 December 2003).

The status of the Palestinians as a people is therefore legally settled (although Israel contests it), and so the practices and policies of Israel towards the whole Palestinian people, despite the Palestinians being fragmented geographically and politically, should be addressed as a single, unified matter. That view is reinforced by the realization that there is no prospect for achieving fundamental Palestinian rights, above all the right of self-determination, through international diplomacy as long as this question remains open.

The authors hope that this report will assist United Nations Member States in making responsible and full use of their national legal systems in the service of the

1 Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 2004, p. 136. Available from http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1671.pdf.

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10 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

global common good. Civil society organizations are also urged to align their agendas and priorities with the findings of this report. Nonetheless, it is primarily incumbent on Israel to comply with international criminal law. Apartheid as an international crime is now viewed by jurists as a peremptory norm (jus cogens) of international customary law, which creates obligations erga omnes. In other words, it is an overriding principle, from which no derogation is permitted, and which is therefore binding, regardless of the consent of sovereign States, and cannot be renounced by national Governments or their representatives.2 In effect, this means that even States that do not accede to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (hereinafter the Apartheid Convention) are responsible for adhering to its obligations. Israel is thus bound by its obligations to end a crime of apartheid if authoritative findings determine that its practices and policies constitute such a criminal regime.

2 John Dugard, ”Introductory note to the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid”, United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law, 2008. Available from http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/cspca/cspca.html.

1. The Legal Context
Short History of the Prohibition of Apartheid

The prohibition of apartheid in international human rights law draws primarily from two areas: (1) prohibitions of discrimination on the basis of race; and (2) rejection of the racist regime that governed in the Republic of South Africa between 1948 and 1992.6

The prohibition of racial discrimination traces to the earliest principles of the United Nations. While a full list would overburden this report, foundational statements include Article 55 of the United Nations Charter and article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Later instruments, particularly the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, spelled out the prohibition in greater detail. Thus Member States of the United Nations are obligated to abide by the prohibition of apartheid whether or not they are parties to the Apartheid Convention.

The juridical history of international rejection of apartheid in South Africa dates to the early years of the existence of the United Nations. General Assembly resolution 395(V) of 1950 was the first to make explicit reference to apartheid in southern Africa, which it defined as a form of racial discrimination.7 Resolution 1761(XVII) of 1962 established what came to be called the Special Committee against Apartheid.8 In the preamble to the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, alarm is expressed about “manifestations of racial discrimination still in evidence in some areas of the world… such as policies of apartheid, segregation or separation” (emphasis added). In article 3, signatories to the Convention “particularly condemn racial segregation and apartheid and

6 The precise date given for the end of apartheid varies with the benchmark used: decriminalization of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1990; the launching or closure of the CODESA (Convention for a Democratic South Africa) talks in 1991 or 1993 respectively; the assassination of Chris Hani in 1993, which triggered the capitulation of the apartheid regime; the election of Nelson Mandela as President in 1994; or passage of the new Constitution in 1995. Taking the meaningful collapse of apartheid’s legitimacy as a rough signpost, the fall of apartheid is here dated to 1992.

7 Resolution 395(V) addressed racial discrimination against people of Indian origin in South Africa (A/RES/395(V)). Concern for that population had been expressed earlier, beginning with resolution 44 (I) of 1946 (A/RES/44(I)).

8 A/RES/1761(XVII).

| 11

12 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature in territories under their jurisdiction” (emphasis added).

The Apartheid Convention of 1973 classifies apartheid as a crime against humanity (in articles I and II) and provides the most detailed definition of it in international law.9 It also clarifies international responsibility and obligations with regard to combating the crime of apartheid. In the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (hereinafter Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions), apartheid is defined as a war crime. The 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), hereinafter the Rome Statute, lists apartheid as a crime against humanity (article 7 (1) (j)), bringing its investigation and possible prosecution under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Although only 109 States are parties to the Apartheid Convention, most States (currently 177) are parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, under which they commit themselves to “prevent, prohibit and eradicate” apartheid (article 3). As of 31 January 2017, 124 States had ratified the Rome Statute. Hence, most States have a legal responsibility to oppose apartheid and take measures to end it wherever it may arise. That responsibility concerns not only human rights violations resulting from apartheid but the threat it poses to international peace and security. The Apartheid Convention further provides that States parties should act at the national level to suppress and prevent the crime of apartheid, through legislative action and prosecutions and legal proceedings in any competent national court.

This report proceeds on the assumption that apartheid is a crime against humanity and that all Member States of the United Nations are legally responsible for acting to prevent, end and punish its practice.

Alternative definitions of apartheid

Arguments about whether a State practices apartheid rest on how apartheid is defined. Several definitions are currently used in polemical debate with regard to Israel, which is frequently labelled an “apartheid State” for its practice of discrete

9 When the Convention was drafted, apartheid had already been described as a crime against humanity by the General Assembly, as in resolution 2202 (XXI) of 1966 (A/RES/2202(XXI) A-B).

The Legal Context: Short History of the Prohibition of Apartheid | 13

“acts of apartheid”, such as the “apartheid wall”.10 Those who insist that Israel cannot be held culpable for apartheid argue that the country’s laws are fundamentally different from those of apartheid South Africa: for example, because Palestinian citizens of Israel have the right to vote.11 These diverse arguments arguably fall outside a study grounded in the tenets of international law as set forth in the pertinent instruments, but a quick overview of them here is warranted. This brevity should not be taken to imply a dismissal of such definitions, which have their place beyond strict considerations of international law. Rather, the overview serves to explain why they are not employed in this report. Neat divisions cannot always be made between these definitions, and some clearly overlap, but they can be identified as types or tendencies.

  1. Defining only regimes consistent with the apartheid regime in South Africa as being apartheid, so that, by definition, digressions from South African practices preclude any charge of apartheid.
  2. Treating discrete practices considered to have qualities of apartheid, such as the so-called “apartheid wall” (“separation fence” or “separation barrier” in official Israeli discourse), as signifying that a State has established a comprehensive apartheid regime.
  3. Defining apartheid as the outcome of anonymous structural global forces, such as global corporate influences or neoliberalism, as enforced by Bretton Woods institutions.
  4. Defining apartheid as the aggregate body of private racist practices by the dominant society as a whole, whereby State involvement is a contingent tool for enforcing a draconian social system based on racial hierarchy, discrimination and segregation.
  5. Treating apartheid as pertaining only to Palestinian citizens of Israel, or only to Palestinians in the occupied territory, or excluding Palestinian refugees and involuntary exiles living outside territory under Israeli control.12

These types of definition, and the reasons that make them unsuitable for this report, are elaborated upon below.

10 A literature review of such references exceeds the scope of this report.
11 CERD/C/ISR/14-16.
12 Palestinians expelled from the occupied Palestinian territory by Israel and not allowed to return.

14 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

1. ThecomparisonwithsouthernAfrica

Arguments about whether Israel has established an apartheid regime often compare the policies and practices of Israel with the system of apartheid in southern Africa (South Africa and Namibia).13 The very term “apartheid” may suggest that the system of racial discrimination as practised by the South African regime constitutes the model for a finding of apartheid elsewhere.14 The comparison does sometimes provide illuminating insights: for instance, by clarifying why existing proposals for a two-State solution in Mandate Palestine are most likely to generate a Palestinian Bantustan.15 Such insights are found by examining the South African distinction between so-called “petty apartheid” (the segregation of facilities, job access and so forth) and “grand apartheid”, which proposed solving racial tensions with the partition of South African territory and by establishing black South African “homelands” delineated by the regime. Be that as it may, the South African comparison will be mostly avoided in this report, because (1) such comparison contradicts the universal character of the prohibition of apartheid and (2) because apartheid systems that arise in different countries will necessarily differ in design. Nonetheless, because they tend to have much in common, this approach requires brief elaboration.

(a) Reasonsfortheerrorofcomparison

The first reason people turn to the South African case is that the collective memory of the South African struggle and the term “apartheid” itself encourage this error. On coming to power in 1948, the Afrikaner-dominated Nationalist Party translated its constituency’s long-standing beliefs about racial hierarchy into a body of racial laws designed to secure white supremacy and determine the life conditions and chances of everyone in the country on the basis of race. The Nationalists’ term for this comprehensive system was apartheid (Afrikaans for “apart-hood” or “separate development”).16 The opposition to apartheid (coordinated by the African National Congress, the Pan-African Congress, the domestic United Democratic Front and

13 The term “southern” Africa reflects the practice of South Africa in extending apartheid to South West Africa (now Namibia), which South Africa had held under a League of Nations mandate and refused to relinquish after the Second World War.

  1. 14  Afrikaans is the adapted Dutch of the indigenized Dutch-European “Afrikaner” settler society in southern Africa.
  2. 15  For a study of how arrangements for the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority replicate the South African

“homelands”, or Bantustans, see Virginia Tilley, “A Palestinian declaration of independence: implications for peace”, Middle East Policy, vol. 17, No. 1 (March 2010). Available from http://mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/palestinian-declaration- independence-implications-peace.

16 The National Party was the principal party in South Africa expressing the Afrikaner worldview and white-nationalist political goals. Hold-outs against United Nations denunciations of apartheid in South Africa included Israel, which maintained a close alliance with the regime throughout its duration, and the United States of America, which had close business ties with South Africa.

The Legal Context: Short History of the Prohibition of Apartheid | 15

other southern African actors, as well as sympathetic international human rights networks) accordingly adopted the term in order to denounce it. The General Assembly did the same, using the term for a series of measures concerning South Africa. For many people, this long history of legal activism naturalized the association between apartheid and South Africa to the point of conflation.

That this conflation is a legal error can be seen in the history of usage through which the term gained universal application:

  • 1962 – The General Assembly established the Special Committee on the Policies of Apartheid of the Government of South Africa, later renamed the Special Committee against Apartheid;
  • 1965 – Under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, apartheid was classified as a form of racial discrimination (preamble and article 3) with no mention of South Africa;
  • 1973 – The Apartheid Convention clarified that “inhuman acts” that constitute the crime of apartheid would “include” acts that are “similar to” those of apartheid South Africa;
  • 1976 – The Secretariat of the United Nations set up the Centre against Apartheid;
  • 1998 – Apartheid was listed in the Rome Statute as a crime against humanity, with no mention of South Africa.That the term has come to have universal application is clarified by South African jurist John Dugard (a leading legal scholar of apartheid):

    That the Apartheid Convention is intended to apply to situations other than South Africa is confirmed by its endorsement in a wider context in instruments adopted before and after the fall of apartheid… It may be concluded that the Apartheid Convention is dead as far as the original cause for its creation – apartheid in South Africa – is concerned, but that

    it lives on as a species of the crime against humanity, under both customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (emphasis added).17

    This report assumes that the term “apartheid” has come to have universal application in international law and is accordingly not confined to the South African case.

17 John Dugard, “Introductory note to the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid”. Available from http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/cspca/cspca.html.

16 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

(b) The paucity of precedents

A second reason people turn to the South African comparison is that, because
no other State has been accused of the crime of apartheid, South Africa stands as the only case providing a precedent. Given the importance of precedents in the interpretation of law, it is arguably natural for people to look at the “inhuman acts” of apartheid in southern Africa as the models or benchmarks for what apartheid “looks like”. For example, some claim that Israel clearly does not practise apartheid because Palestinian citizens of Israel have the right to vote in national elections, while black South Africans did not. That the design of apartheid regimes in other States must necessarily differ — due to the unique history of their societies and the collective experience shaping local racial thought, such as settler colonialism, slavery, ethnic cleansing, war or genocide — is neglected in such a simplified search for models.

Nevertheless, the case of southern Africa does serve to expose some legal arguments as specious. For example, it might be argued that the treatment by Israel of Palestinian populations outside its internationally recognized borders (that is, in the occupied Palestinian territory and abroad) falls beyond the scope of the question, making its policies on Palestinian refugees and Palestinians living under occupation irrelevant to a charge of apartheid. That this argument is unsupportable is confirmed by reference to ICJ advisory opinions regarding the behaviour of South Africa in South West Africa (Namibia).18 In 1972, the ICJ found South African rule over Namibia illegal partly on the grounds that it violated the rights of the Namibian people by imposing South African apartheid laws there.19 South Africa was thus held to account for apartheid practices outside its own sovereign territory and in respect to non-citizens.

This report assumes that the question of formal sovereignty is not germane to a finding of apartheid.

18 In the 1960s, South Africa administered South West Africa (Namibia) as a fifth province and applied to it its doctrine of apartheid, complete with Bantustans. The policy attracted repeated criticism from the General Assembly.

19 The ICJ was addressing the legality of South Africa’s continued rule of South West Africa in violation of a Security Council resolution calling for its withdrawal. See especially the last of four opinions issued between 1950 and 1971: International Status of South-West Africa, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1950, p. 128; Voting Procedure on Questions Relating to Reports and Petitions Concerning the Territory of South West Africa, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1955, p. 67; Admissibility of Hearings of Petitioners by the Committee on South-West Africa, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1956, p. 23; Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) Notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970), Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1971, p. 16 (especially paras. 131 and 133).

The Legal Context: Short History of the Prohibition of Apartheid | 17

2. Apartheid as discrete practices

Discrete acts by Israel are frequently labelled as examples of “apartheid”: for example, as noted earlier, in references to the “apartheid wall”. Such references are useful to those wishing to highlight how the forcible segregation of groups strongly suggests apartheid. Yet it would be erroneous to take such isolated practices as indicative that a State is constituted as an apartheid regime.20 Rather, the Apartheid Convention provides a definition that stresses the combination of acts with their “purpose” or intent:

For the purpose of the present Convention, the term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to the following inhuman acts committed for the purpose of (emphasis added) establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them (article II).

The Convention then lists six categories of such “inhuman acts”. In article 7 (2) (h), the Rome Statute formulates the same concept differently, but again places emphasis on such acts as reflecting an “intention”:

“The crime of apartheid” means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1 [i.e., “when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”], 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.

Both instruments thus establish that discrete acts are crimes of apartheid only if they are part of an institutionalized regime and have the “intention” or “purpose” of racial domination and oppression. The same acts, if not observably part of such a regime or lacking such a clear purpose, may be denounced as reprehensible instances of racism but do not meet the definition of a crime of apartheid. For that reason, a check-list method alone — such as looking for the “inhuman acts” mentioned in the Apartheid Convention — would be a misreading of the

20 Former special rapporteurs John Dugard and Richard Falk highlighted the problem of determining when “features of apartheid” signify that an apartheid regime is operating, which would constitute a matter that might be referred to the ICJ. For both rapporteurs, the question arose with regard to the legality of the Israeli occupation. Mr. Dugard described “road apartheid” in the occupied Palestinian territory and noted that the Israeli occupation has “features” or “elements” of apartheid. However, whether Israel is constituted as an apartheid regime remained for Mr. Dugard a question still to be legally determined (A/62/275). Mr. Falk adopted a similar position (A/HRC/25/67, p. 21).

18 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

Convention’s intention. In article II, it explicitly establishes that such acts are illustrative, not mandatory, and are crimes of apartheid only if they serve the overarching purpose of racial domination. Hence, such acts can be considered crimes of apartheid only after the existence of an “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination” has been conclusively established.

The very existence of the Apartheid Convention indicates that apartheid is rightly distinguished from other forms of racial discrimination, already prohibited under instruments such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, by its character as a regime. The Rome Statute expressly refers to apartheid as a regime. In political science, a State regime is the set of institutions through which the State is governed, principally regarding its arrangements for exercising power. In the oft-cited formulation by political scientist Robert Fishman:

A regime may be thought of as the formal and informal organization of the centre of political power, and of its relations with the broader society. A regime determines who has access to political power, and how those who are in power deal with those who are not… Regimes are more permanent forms of political organization than specific governments, but they are typically less permanent than the State.21

On the basis of this definition, relevant evidence for an apartheid regime in Israel- Palestine must go beyond identifying discrete acts and determine whether the regime blocks access to “the centre of political power” on the basis of race. Moreover, the Apartheid Convention specifies that “organizations, institutions and individuals” may be culpable for the crime of apartheid (article I, para. 2). This, too, means that the State as a whole may be held accountable for committing that crime.

Finally, identifying apartheid as a regime clarifies one controversy: that ending such a regime would constitute destruction of the State itself. This interpretation is understandable if the State is understood as being the same as its regime. Thus, some suggest that the aim of eliminating apartheid in Israel is tantamount to aiming to “destroy Israel”. However, a State does not cease to exist as a result of regime change. The elimination of the apartheid regime in South Africa in no way affected the country’s statehood.

To determine whether specific acts constitute evidence of apartheid, this report examines whether they contribute to the overarching purpose of sustaining an institutionalized regime of racial oppression and domination.

21 Fishman, Robert M., “Rethinking State and regime: Southern Europe’s transition to democracy”, World Politics, vol. 42, No. 3 (April 1990).

The Legal Context: Short History of the Prohibition of Apartheid | 19

3. Apartheid as generated by anonymous structural conditions

Some writers have begun to define apartheid as the racialized impact of anonymous socioeconomic forces, such as the capitalist mode of production. It may indeed be heuristically useful to use the term “economic apartheid” to describe situations where economic inequality feeds into racial formation and stratification, even in the absence of any deliberate State policy to achieve this result.22 (Scholars of race relations will identify this as the illimitable race-class debate.) In this model, “apartheid” is used to flag discrimination that emerges spontaneously from a variety of economic conditions and incentives. Some argue that the entire global economy is generating a kind of “global apartheid”.23

The trouble with this hyper-structural approach is that it renders agency, particularly the role of a given State, unclear or implicitly eliminates it altogether. International law interprets apartheid as a crime for which individuals (or States) can be prosecuted, once their culpability is established by authoritative legal procedures. No such criminal culpability could pertain when treating apartheid as the product of the international structure itself, as this would not signify whether the State regime is configured deliberately for the purpose of racial domination and oppression — the distinguishing quality of apartheid according to the Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute.

This report considers that the question of whether or not an apartheid system is in place should be analysed at the level of the State, and that the crime
of apartheid is applicable only to that level.

4. Apartheid as private social behaviour

The term apartheid is also used to describe racial discrimination where the main agent in imposing racial domination is the dominant racial group, whose members collectively generate the rules and norms that define race, enforce racial hierarchy and police racial boundaries. The primary enforcers of such systems are private, such as teachers, employers, real estate agents, loan officers and vigilante groups, but they also rely to varying degrees on administrative organs of the State, such as the police and a court system. It follows that maintaining these organs as compliant with the system becomes a core goal of private actors, because

22 For more on this, see Cass Sunstein, “Why markets don’t stop discrimination”, Social Philosophy and Policy, vol. 8, issue 2 (April 1991).

23 Anthony H. Richmond, Global Apartheid: Refugees, Racism, and the New World Order (Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1994).

20 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

excluding dominated groups from meaningful voting rights that might alter that compliance is essential to maintaining the system.

Social racism doubtless plays a vital role in apartheid regimes, by providing popular support for designing and preserving the system, and by using informal methods (treating people with hostility and suspicion) to intimidate and silence subordinated groups.24 Social racism is rarely entirely divorced from institutionalized racism. Law and practice are so interdependent that the difference between them may seem irrelevant to those oppressed by the holistic system they create.

Nonetheless, one significant difference distinguishes the two: the role of constitutional law. Where a State’s constitutional law provides equal rights to the entire citizenry, it can provide an invaluable resource for people challenging discrimination at all levels of the society. However, if constitutional law defines the State as racial in character — as in Israel (as a Jewish State), and apartheid South Africa (as a white-Afrikaner State) — movements against racial discrimination not only lack this crucial legal resource but find themselves in the far more dangerous position of challenging the regime itself. Such a challenge will naturally be seen by regime authorities as an existential threat and be persecuted accordingly.25

In short, it is crucial for a finding of apartheid to establish whether the State’s constitutional law (the Basic Law in Israel) renders discrimination illegal or renders resistance to discrimination illegal. The latter case fits the definition of apartheid in the Apartheid Convention, which lists as a crime against humanity “persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid” (article II (f)).

5. Apartheid and the question of race

The Apartheid Convention defines apartheid as “domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons…”. The Rome Statute uses similar wording: “…systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups…”. However, neither Jews nor Palestinians are

24 Surveys of Jewish Israeli attitudes towards “Arabs” and Palestinians are omitted here because they do not pertain to a study of the State’s institutionalized regime. This omission in no way intends to suggest that popular views are not key guardians and enforcers of that regime.

25 Although the Constitution of the United States of America states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”, race relations always complicated this principle in practice. Constitutional law favouring white supremacy included the key “separate but equal” provisions in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 US 537 (1896). They were overturned only in 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 US 483, which was later followed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Legal Context: Short History of the Prohibition of Apartheid | 21

referred to as “races” today. Moreover, Jews are correctly argued to include many “races” in the sense of the old colour categories: black, white, Asian and so forth. Thus, one challenge to any accusation that Israel maintains an apartheid regime is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not racial in nature. Hence, the argument goes, Jews cannot be racist toward Palestinians (or anyone else) because Jews themselves are not a race.

Such arguments reflect a mistaken and obsolete understanding of race. Through the first half of the twentieth century, the idea of race was seen as scientifically established and measurable. Since the Second World War, however, it has come to be recognized as a social construction that varies over time and may be contested within each local context. One illustration of such variability is the North American “one-drop rule”, which has long operated to label as “black” anyone with a perceptible element of African phenotypes or known black ancestry. Yet the same “black” person, travelling to Latin America, finds the one-drop rule working in reverse, such that s/he is not considered “black” if s/he has any portion of “white” blood, instead being called mestizo or mulatto. Thus racial identity changes with the setting.

Consequently, there can be no single, authoritative, global definition of any race. The only way to determine how racial identities are perceived and practiced locally is through historical studies of racial thought and by field observations in each local setting. The question is therefore not whether Jewish and Palestinian identities are innately racial in character wherever they occur, but whether those identities function as racial groups in the local environment of Israel-Palestine.

This point raises another question on how race is handled in United Nations instruments.26 For the purposes of human rights law, a finding of racial discrimination is based less on how groups are labelled than how they are treated. For example, although Jews today are not normally referred to as a “race”, anti- Semitism is correctly seen as a form of racism. It would indeed be unethical and politically regressive sophistry to argue that Jews cannot be subject to racial discrimination simply because they are not normally referred to as a “race”.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination captures that point by defining “racial discrimination” as embracing a range of identities:

26 The exception that proves the rule regarding definitions of race is the isolated effort by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: see Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu, case No. ICTR-96-4-T, Judgement (TC), 2 September 1998, Akayesu Trial Judgment, paras. 511-515.

22 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

In this Convention, the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life (part I, article 1) (emphasis added).

By invoking that Convention in its preamble, the Apartheid Convention suggests that its language regarding “racial group or groups” embraces the same range of identities.

Recognizing this contextual meaning of “race” is not haphazard. Since the mid- twentieth century, scholars of international law have joined social scientists in coming to understand racial identity as fundamentally a matter of perception, rather than objectively measurable qualities. Racial identities are usually signally somatic and so are seen as stable and permanent, acquired at birth and thus immutable. That races are actually social constructions is evidenced by how such constructions vary from society to society: that is, the significance of specific somatic criteria, such as skin colour or eye shape, to a racial typology. Where such perceptions of an essential identity persist, the difference disappears between language about groups understood as racial or “ethnic”, as descent groups, and that which sees them as sharing a particular national or ethnic origin. What matters in all those cases is that all members of a group — including infants and others who cannot possibly constitute a “racial threat” — are embraced by one policy. A pertinent example of this conflation of terms has been discrimination against Jews, for whom a mix of labels (race, religion and ethnicity) has been used by those pursuing anti-Semitic segregation, persecution or genocide. The question here is, therefore, whether relations between Jews and Palestinians in Mandate Palestine rest on ideas that each group has an immutable character, such that their relations fit the definition of “racial” discrimination.

A comprehensive review of how Jewish and Palestinian identities are understood locally in Israel-Palestine would overburden this report. Fortunately, one factor confirms the racial quality of both identities in this context: both are considered descent groups (one of the categories in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination). Palestinian identity is explicitly based on origins or ancestral origins in the territory of Mandate Palestine. The 1964 Charter of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)27 expresses this

27 See https://web.archive.org/web/20101130144018/http://www.un.int/wcm/content/site/palestine/pid/12363.

the Arab countries and which together form the great Arab homeland.

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principle by affirming that Palestinian identity is passed down through the paternal line and is intergenerational:

Article 5: The Palestinian personality is a permanent and genuine characteristic that does not disappear. It is transferred from fathers to sons.

Palestinian national identity has always been nested within pan-Arabism, an ethno- national identity formulated first as a modern territorial nationalism by Sherif Hussein of Mecca. “Arab” was certainly the generic term for Arabic-speaking people in Palestine when the Zionist movement began to settle the area. General Assembly resolution 181(II) of 1947,28 which recommended the partition of Mandate Palestine into an “Arab State” and a “Jewish State”, drew from that discourse. Updated and promoted especially by Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser to craft an anticolonial Arab identity bloc across the Middle East and North Africa, Arab identity became a vital identity and political resource for the PLO, as reflected in its Charter:

In this conception, Palestinians are integral members of the Arab “Nation”, but
it is the “Palestinian people” that holds the right to self-determination in Mandate Palestine, thus conveying the international legal meaning of “nation” to the Palestinian people.

In contrast, Jewish identity combines several contradictory elements.29 “Jewish” is certainly a religious identity in the sense that Judaism is a religious faith to which anyone may convert if willing and able to follow the required procedures. On that basis, opponents of Israeli policy insist that Jewishness is not a national identity but simply a religious one, and so Jews qua Jews are not a “people” in the sense of international law and therefore lack the right to self-determination. Supporters of Israel use the same point to deny that Jewish statehood is racist, on the grounds

28 A/RES/181(II).

29 Internal debates about “who is a Jew” are irrelevant to the State’s construction of Jewishness as a single people, and thus not pertinent to this report. On such debates, see, for example, Noah Efron, Real Jews: Secular Versus Ultra-Orthodox: The Struggle For Jewish Identity In Israel (New York, Basic Books, 2003).

Article 1: Palestine is an Arab homeland bound by strong Arab national ties to the rest of

… Article 3: The Palestinian Arab people has the legitimate right to its homeland and is an

inseparable part of the Arab Nation. It shares the sufferings and aspirations of the Arab

Nation and its struggle for freedom, sovereignty, progress and unity…

24 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

that Zionism and Israel cannot be racist if Jews are not a race. However, those arguments are flawed, even disingenuous, as religious criteria alone are not adequate for defining what it is to be “Jewish”.

Like many other groups that today are now commonly called “ethnic” or “national”, until the mid-twentieth century Jews were often referred to as a “race”. Jewish-Zionist thinkers adopted the same approach, reflecting contemporary concepts of what races were, how races composed peoples and nations, and how on that basis they had the right to self-determination. For example, Zionist philosopher and strategist Max Nordau commonly used the term “race” for Jews in speaking of Jewish interests in Palestine.30 For decades, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, Vladimir Jabotinsky, wrote passionately about the Jewish “race” and how the “spiritual mechanism” associated with it granted transcendental value to a Jewish State.31 Today, this usage persists in the Memorandum of Association of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which in article 2 (c) cites one of its objectives as being to “benefit, directly or indirectly, those of Jewish race or descent”. In none of those sources is religious faith even mentioned (because it is recognized to vary): the concern is entirely with descent. Halachah (often translated as “Jewish law”) and social norms in Jewish communities provide that Jewish identity is conveyed from mother to child, irrespective of the individual’s actual religious beliefs or practice. The State of Israel enshrined the central importance of descent in its Law of Return of 1950 (amended in 1970),32 which states that:

For the purposes of this Law, “Jew” means a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion.

Descent is crucial to Jewish identity discourse in Israel because direct lineal descent from antiquity is the main reason given by political-Zionist philosophers for why Jews today hold the right to self-determination in the land of Palestine. In this view, all Jews retain a special relationship and rights to the land of Palestine, granted by covenant with God: some schools of Zionism hold that Israel is the successor State to the Jewish kingdoms of Saul, David and Solomon. That claim is

30 See, for example, Max Nordau, “Address to the First Zionist Congress”, 29 August 1897. Available from http://www.mideastweb.org/nordau1897.htm.

31 See Vladimir Jabotinsky, A lecture on Jewish history (1933), cited in David Goldberg, To the Promised Land: A History of Zionist Thought (London, Penguin, 1996), p. 181.

32 Passed by the Knesset on 5 July 1950 and amended on 10 March 1970.

The Legal Context: Short History of the Prohibition of Apartheid | 25

expressed, inter alia, in the Declaration of Independence of Israel,33 which affirms that Jews today trace their ancestry to an earlier national life in the geography of Palestine and therefore have an inalienable right to “return”, which is given precedence over positive law:

The Land of Israel 34 was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book
of Books.

After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.

Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland. In recent decades they returned in their masses. […]

That claim to unbroken lineal descent from antiquity attributes collective rights to the “land of Israel” to an entire group on the basis of its (supposed) bloodlines. The incompatible claim that Jewishness is multiracial, by virtue of its character as a religion to which others have converted, is simply absent from this formula.

The emphasis on descent implicitly portrays all other descent groups — including Palestinians — as lacking any comparable right by virtue of their different descent. Thus the claim to Palestine as the exclusive homeland of the Jewish people rests on an expressly racial conception of both groups. This means that Jews and Palestinians are “racial groups” as defined by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and, accordingly, for the purposes of the Apartheid Convention.

33 Provisional Government of Israel, The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, Official Gazette, No. 1 (Tel Aviv, 14 May 1948). It is also commonly referred to as the Declaration of Independence. Available from https://www.knesset.gov.il/docs/eng/megilat_eng.htm.

34 Eretz-Israel in Hebrew.

2. Testing for an Apartheid Regime in Israel-Palestine

The design of an apartheid regime in any State will necessarily reflect the country’s unique history and demography, which shape local perceptions of racial hierarchy and doctrines of racial supremacy. The first task here is, therefore, to consider how local conditions in Israel-Palestine constitute such an environment. The main feature, stemming from the history of wars and expulsions, is the geographic fragmentation of the Palestinian people into discrete populations that are then administered differently by the State regime. Those components include Palestinians living under direct Israeli rule in three categories (as citizens of the State of Israel, residents of occupied East Jerusalem, and under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza) and Palestinians living outside direct Israeli rule: refugees and involuntary exiles expelled from the territory of Mandate Palestine who

are prohibited by Israel from returning. The next section clarifies how those four categories have emerged from the territory’s history of warfare and incremental annexation.

A. Thepoliticalgeographyofapartheid

The geographic unit of “Mandate Palestine” was established by the League of Nations in 1922 with the stated intention of fostering the future independence of Palestine as a State, as specified in the League of Nations Charter.35 Famously, the Palestine Mandate included contradictory provisions for a Jewish “national home” (not a State) and the special authority of the Jewish Agency in establishing that “home”. Later British commissions and white papers specified that “national home” had not been intended to signify a Jewish State, but that position was not

35 The borders of Mandate Palestine were derived from the Sykes-Picot agreement, which divided Ottoman imperial territory after the First World War and placed it under British or French Mandates. Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations provided for various classes of mandate territory. Palestine was considered one of the most advanced areas, whose “existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone”. In that context, “independent nations” signified independent statehood, thus informing language in the Mandate for Palestine. The early history of Palestine’s mandate borders, which combined Transjordan and Palestine, is not considered material to this report, but for that history, see especially Victor Kattan, From Coexistence to Conquest: International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1891-1949 (London, Pluto Press, 2009).

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accepted by the Zionist leadership. Endemic violence that emerged from this contradictory formula, combined with imperial exhaustion after the Second World War, ultimately led Great Britain to withdraw from its role as Mandatory Power and submit the fate of Palestine to the United Nations. In 1947, the General Assembly passed resolution 181(II) by a modest majority of 36 Member States, recommending the territory’s partition into a “Jewish State” and an “Arab State”. The same resolution specified conditions and measures deemed essential to make partition viable, including borders that provided for racial majorities in each titular State, constitutional protections for minorities, economic union between the two States and a special international regime for the city of Jerusalem.36

In the 1948 war, however, the Zionist movement took over territory far beyond what had been assigned to the Jewish State under resolution 181(II) and, by so doing, rendered moot its labyrinthine provisions, including acquiescence by the internationally recognized representatives of the Palestinian people. In 1948, the Zionist leadership declared the independence of Israel in territory under its military control, although its final borders had yet to be established. In 1949, the General Assembly recommended admission of the State of Israel to membership even though its borders had still not been finalized. Palestinians remaining in Israel, who had not fled or been expelled in the 1948 war, became citizens of Israel, but Israel administered them under emergency laws and denied them civil rights, such as the franchise, until 1966.

From 1948 until 1967, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) was governed by Jordan, while the Gaza Strip was administered by Egypt. As a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, both territories came under Israeli military occupation and rule, yet were not formally annexed.37 The geographic separation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip has suggested the existence of two discrete territories. However, the United Nations commonly refers to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the singular as the “occupied Palestinian territory”, treating both as geographic fragments of “Palestine” as established under the League of Nations Mandate.38 Pursuant to article XI of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and

36 Resolution 181(II) was the result of work by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), with its two subcommittees providing options for a partitioned or unified State.

37 Although effectively annexed, the occupied Syrian Golan is excluded from the scope of this report because that territory was not part of the Palestine Mandate and is considered legally to be Syrian territory. However, many of this report’s findings could apply to Israeli policy in the Golan and may be consistent with apartheid, as Israel has used Jewish settlement to stake a claim to the land and the population of the four Druze villages there live in conditions of relative deprivation.

38 Steps taken by the General Assembly to recognize a “State of Palestine” have prompted some to suggest that occupied Palestinian territory should now be referred to as “occupied Palestine”. However, since recognition of such a State still lacks any final agreement about its borders, the authors here continue to use the term “occupied Palestinian territory” to refer to territory delineated by the 1949 Armistice Agreement and occupied by Israel in the 1967 war.

the Gaza Strip (also known as the Oslo II Accord or Oslo II), for the purposes of negotiation those areas were considered a “single territorial unit” (article XI). Hence, international jurists and the United Nations consider Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to be under one legal category: that is, civilians under belligerent occupation, whose rights and protections are stipulated primarily in the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War (1949).

East Jerusalem (that part of Jerusalem on the east side of the Armistice Line or “green line” of 1949) obtained a special status. Although seamlessly integrated with the West Bank between 1948 and 1967, East Jerusalem retained the aura of the diplomatic character, proposed by resolution 181(II), of a corpus separatum, reflecting its vital importance to all three Abrahamic faiths. After the 1967 war, however, Israel passed legislation making East Jerusalem part of the unified city of Jerusalem, radically expanding the city’s borders, and extending Israeli civil law throughout. After the second intifada (from September 2000), parts of East Jerusalem were re-segregated from Jewish areas physically by the separation wall and its security gates and Israeli checkpoints. This forced separation has allowed Israel to separate East Jerusalem from the West Bank in juridical terms and so has generated the category of Palestinian “residents” of East Jerusalem, whose rights stem largely from Israeli law on permanent residency.39

The territory’s history has further generated the separate case of Palestinian citizens of Israel: people who remained inside the internationally recognized borders of Israel after 1949 and their descendants. Granted Israeli citizenship although not full “national” equality as non-Jews in a Jewish-national State, this Palestinian population now makes up 20 per cent of the country’s citizenry.40
How Israeli law and doctrine has defined this population as citizens but not “nationals” of the State is addressed below. Here it is incumbent only to recognize that Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise a distinct legal category. The situation of refugees and involuntary exiles comprises the final category, distinct from the others in that they are governed by the laws of the other States in which they reside.

39 The Knesset passed Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel on 30 July 1980 (published in Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 980 of 5 August 1980, p. 186).

40 Jewish Virtual Library, Vital Statistics: Latest Population Statistics for Israel (January 2017). Available from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/latest-population-statistics-for-israel.

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By developing discrete bodies of law, termed “domains” in this report, for each territory and their Palestinian populations, Israel has both effected and veiled a comprehensive policy of apartheid directed at the whole Palestinian people.41 Warfare, partition, de jure and de facto annexation and occupation in Palestine have, over the decades, generated the complex geography in which the Palestinian people have become fragmented into different juridical categories and are administered by different bodies of law. What matters for the purposes of a study of apartheid is how Israel has exploited this fragmentation to secure Jewish-national domination.

B. IsraelasaracialState

A test of apartheid cannot be confined, methodologically, to identifying discrete policies and practices, such as those listed under the Apartheid Convention. Such policies and practices must be found to serve the purpose or intention of imposing racial domination and oppression on a subordinated racial group. In somewhat circular reasoning, international law provides that discrete “inhuman acts” acquire the status of a crime against humanity only if they intentionally serve that purpose, but establishes that such a purpose requires the identification of related inhuman acts. The solution is to examine the context in which acts and motives are configured: that is, whether the State itself is designed to ensure “the domination of a racial group or groups over any other racial group or groups”. (For example, in South Africa, State institutions were designed to ensure incontestable domination by whites and, particularly, Dutch-Afrikaners.)

In this study, it is vital to establish the racial character of the regime that the system of domains is designed to protect. Otherwise, their internal diversity — the laws that comprise them — can convey the incorrect impression of discrete systems.

That Israel is politically constructed as the State of the Jewish people requires
no extended explanation here, but will be discussed briefly.42 Since the turn of the twentieth century, the history of the Zionist movement has been centred on creating and preserving a Jewish State in Palestine. That aim remains the cornerstone of

41 “Domain” is used in the report in the sense of logic or discourse analysis, in which concepts and actors are understood as part of one “universe” of references. Hence, the domains in Israeli policy consist of definitions of the populations themselves (domestic, foreign, citizens or otherwise, “Palestinians” oriented toward Palestinian self-determination or “Arabs” as an Israeli minority, and so forth), as well as the laws, practices, norms and other measures, formal and informal, by which Israeli definitions of those identities are imposed on Palestinian populations in each domain.

42 For a more complete discussion, see Tilley (ed.), Beyond Occupation, chaps. 3 and 4.

Israeli State discourse. During the Mandate years, the Jewish Agency and Zionist leadership argued that the “Jewish national home” promised under the Mandate was to be a sovereign Jewish State. The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel specifically referred to the new State as a “Jewish State in Eretz- Israel”. The Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty43 and Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation44 specify concerns with “the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic State”.45 The 1952 World Zionist Organisation–Jewish Agency (Status) Law,46 which establishes those organizations as “authorized agencies” of the State on a range of responsibilities, including land settlement, specifies that Israel is “the creation of the entire Jewish people, and its gates are open, in accordance with its laws, to every Jew wishing to immigrate to it”.

The mission of preserving Israel as a Jewish State has inspired or even compelled Israel to pursue several general racial policies.

1. Demographicengineering

The first general policy of Israel has been one of demographic engineering, in order to establish and maintain an overwhelming Jewish majority in Israel. As in any racial democracy, such a majority allows the trappings of democracy — democratic elections, a strong legislature — without threatening any loss of hegemony by the dominant racial group. In Israeli discourse, this mission is expressed in terms of the so-called “demographic threat”, an openly racist reference to Palestinian population growth or the return of Palestinian refugees. Related practices have included:

1. A global programme, organized by the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency, launched at the end of the nineteenth century and accelerating into the early 1930s, to bring Jewish immigrants to Palestine in numbers large enough to ensure the demographic majority needed for building a Jewish State with democratic characteristics;

43 Passed by the Knesset on 17 March 1992 (published in Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 1391 of 25 March 1992). Available from https://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/special/eng/basic3_eng.htm.

44 The law amending the original 1992 legislation was passed by the Knesset on 9 March 1994 (published in Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 1454 of 10 March 1994). Available from https://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/special/eng/basic4_eng.htm.

45 A controversial bill to declare this principle as a central tenet had been tabled in the Knesset but not yet passed at the time of writing. See Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, Ministry of Justice. Available from http://index.justice.gov.il/StateIdentity/InformationInEnglish/Documents/Basic%20Law%20110911%20(1).pdf. Accessed 5 February 2017.

46 The Status Law was amended in 1975 to restructure this relationship: see World Zionist Organisation–Jewish Agency for Israel (Status) (Amendment) Law, 1975.

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  1. Ethnic cleansing (forcible displacement) in 1948 of an estimated 800,000 Palestinians from areas that became part of the internationally recognized territory of Israel;47
  2. Subsequent measures undertaken by Israel to maintain an overwhelming Jewish majority within its internationally recognized territory, including by:(a) PreventingPalestinianrefugeesfromthewarsof1948and1967from returning to homes in Israel or in the occupied Palestinian territory, which they had abandoned due to fighting, dispossession, forced expulsion and terror;48

    (b) Composing the Law of Return and Citizenship Law (often wrongly translated as Nationality Law) to provide Israeli citizenship to Jews from any part of the world, while denying citizenship even to those Palestinians who have a documented history of residency in the country;

    (c) A range of other policies designed to restrict the size of the Palestinian population, including harsh restrictions placed on immigration, the return of refugees, and rules prohibiting Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens from gaining legal residency rights in Israel.

  3. The affirmation in the Basic Law that Israel is a “Jewish and democratic State”, thus establishing Jewish-racial domination as a foundational doctrine.

Together, those measures have been highly effective in maintaining an overwhelming Jewish majority in Israel. In 1948, the ratio of Palestinians to Jews in Palestine was approximately 2:1 (some 1.3 million Arabs to 630,000 Jews).49 Today, Palestinian citizens of Israel constitute only about 20 per cent of the population, rendering them a permanent minority.

2. Bansonchallengestoracialdomination

Israel reinforces its race-based immigration policy with measures designed to prevent Palestinian citizens of Israel from challenging the doctrine and laws that purport to establish Israel as a Jewish State. Article 7 (a) of the Basic Law: Knesset (1958), for instance, prohibits any political party in Israel from adopting a platform that challenges the State’s expressly Jewish character:

  1. 47  See Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (London, Oxford One World Press, 2006).
  2. 48  Ibid. The right of refugees to return is specified in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial

Discrimination (article 5 (d) (ii)).

49 Censuses categories under the British Mandate were ordered by “religion” rather than ethnicity. Statistics therefore grouped together Arab and non-Arab Christians. In 1947, Christians and Muslims numbered 143,000 and 1,181,000 respectively.

A candidates list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset, and a person shall not be a candidate for election to the Knesset, if the objects or actions of the list or the actions of the person, expressly or by implication, include one of the following:
(1) Negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic State (emphasis added)…50

Voting rights lose their significance in terms of equal rights when a racial group is legally banned from challenging laws that perpetuate inequality. An analogy would be a system in which slaves have the right to vote but not against slavery. Such rights might allow slaves to achieve some cosmetic reforms, such as improved living conditions and protection from vigilante violence, but their status and vulnerability as chattels would remain. Israeli law bans organized Palestinian opposition to Jewish domination, rendering it illegal and even seditious.

3. IsraeliJewish-nationalinstitutions

Israel has designed its domestic governance in such a way as to ensure that the State upholds and promotes Jewish nationalism. The term “Jewish people” in political Zionist thought is used to claim the right to self-determination. The quest of an ethnic or racial group for its own State amounts to a national project, and so Israeli institutions designed to preserve Israel as a Jewish State are referred to in this report as “Jewish-national” institutions.

In Israel, an interplay of laws consolidates Jewish-national supremacy. For example, regarding the central question of land use, Basic Law: Israel Lands51 provides that real property held by the State of Israel, the Development Authority or the Keren Kayemet Le-Israel (JNF-Jewish National Fund) must serve “national” (that is, Jewish-national) interests and cannot be transferred to any other hands. It further establishes the Israeli Lands Authority (ILA) as administrator of such lands. The ILA (as successor of the Israeli Lands Administration) is charged with administering land in accordance with the JNF Covenant, which requires that land held by the JNF be held in perpetuity for the exclusive benefit of the Jewish people. The ILA also operates in accordance with the World Zionist Organization- Jewish Agency Status Law (1952), which sets forth the responsibility of those conjoined organizations for serving Jewish settlement and development. Thus, State land, which accounts for 93 per cent of land within the country’s

  1. 50  Basic Law: Knesset. Available from https://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/special/eng/basic2_eng.htm.
  2. 51  Passed by the Knesset on 19 July 1960 (published in Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 312 of 29 July 1960).

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internationally recognized borders, is managed through laws prohibiting its use by non-Jews.52

In a legal process that Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard has called “channelling”, Israel has extended the application of laws regarding land to the occupied Palestinian territory.53 Large areas of the West Bank have been declared “State lands”, closed to use by Palestinians and administered in accordance with Israeli regime policies that, as described above, by law must serve the Jewish people.54 In other words, much of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is under the authority of an Israeli State institution that is legally bound to administer that land for the exclusive benefit of the Jewish people. The same arrangement once governed Israeli Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, but since the Israeli “disengagement” of 2005 and the withdrawal of Jewish settlements, such laws apply only to small portions of the Strip, such as the unilaterally imposed security zone by the fence.

The Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organisation (hereafter JA-WZO) deserve special attention for their role in establishing the racial character of the Israeli regime. According to Israeli law, they remain the “authorised agencies” of the State regarding Jewish-national affairs in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.55 Their authority is detailed in the Covenant signed on 26 July 1954 between the Government of Israel and the Zionist Executive, representing the JA- WZO.56 The Covenant provides for a coordinating board, composed half of State officials and half of JA-WZO members, which is granted broad authority to serve the Jewish people, extending to development plans for the entire country. Powers accorded to the JA-WZO by its Covenant are:

The organising of [Jewish] immigration abroad and the transfer of immigrants and their property to Israel; participation in the absorption of immigrants in Israel; youth immigration; agricultural settlement in Israel; the acquisition and amelioration of land in Israel by the institutions of the Zionist Organisation, the Keren Kayemeth Le-Israel [Jewish National Fund] and the Keren Hayesod [United Jewish Appeal]; participation in the establishment

  1. 52  ILA website. Available from http://www.mmi.gov.il/Envelope/indexeng.asp?page=/static/eng/f_general.html.
  2. 53  For details on how this is done, see Tilley (ed.), Beyond Occupation.
  3. 54  Provisions of humanitarian law prohibiting the occupant from altering the infrastructure, laws and economic institutions that

existed in occupied territory prior to its coming under belligerent occupation include articles 43 and 55 of the 1907 Hague Regulations (Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land) and article 64 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. See also Tilley (ed.), Beyond Occupation, chap. 2.

55 The World Zionist Organisation–Jewish Agency (Status) Law of 1952 was amended in 1975. Available from https://www.adalah.org/en/law/view/534.

56 See http://www.israellobby.org/ja/12311970_JAFI_Reconstitution.pdf, appendix I.

and the expansion of development enterprises in Israel; the encouragement of private capital investments in Israel; assistance to cultural enterprises and institutions of higher learning in Israel; the mobilisation of resources for financing these functions; the coordination of the activities in Israel of Jewish institutions and organisations acting within the sphere of these functions with the aid of public funds.

A principle task of the JA-WZO is to work actively to build and maintain Israel as a Jewish State, particularly through immigration policy:

… 5. The mission of gathering in the [Jewish] exiles, which is the central task of the State of Israel and the Zionist Movement in our days, requires constant efforts by the Jewish people in the Diaspora; the State of Israel, therefore, expects the cooperation of all Jews, as individuals and groups, in building up the State and assisting the immigration to it of the masses of the [Jewish] people, and regards the unity of all sections of Jewry as necessary for this purpose (emphasis added).57

Such explicit language by the State’s authorized agencies conclusively underlines the State’s essentially racist character.

The World Zionist Organisation-Jewish Agency (Status) Law is linked to a second body of Israeli law and jurisprudence that distinguishes between citizenship (in Hebrew, ezrahut) and nationality (le’um). Other States have made this distinction: for example, in the former Soviet Union, Soviet citizens also held distinct “national” identities (Kazakh, Turkmen, Uzbek and so forth), but all nationalities had equal legal standing. In Israel, by contrast, only one nationality, Jewish, has legal standing and only Jewish nationality is associated with the legitimacy and mission of the State. According to the country’s Supreme Court, Israel is indeed not the State of the “Israeli nation”, which does not legally exist, but of the “Jewish nation”.58 National rights are reserved to Jewish nationality. For instance, the Law of Return serves the “in-gathering” mission cited above by allowing any Jew to immigrate to Israel and, through the Citizenship Law59, to gain immediate citizenship. No other group has a remotely comparable right and only Jews enjoy any collective rights under Israeli law.

  1. 57  World Zionist Organisation-Jewish Agency (Status) Law of 1952.
  2. 58  George Rafael Tamarin v. State of Israel (20 January 1972), Decisions of the Supreme Court of Israel (Jerusalem: Supreme

Court, 1972), vol. 25, pt. 1, 197 (in Hebrew). See also Roselle Tekiner, “On the inequality of Israeli citizens”, Without Prejudice, vol. 1, No. 1 (1988), pp. 9-48.

59 Passed by the Knesset on 1 April 1952 and amended in 1958, 1968 and 1971.

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The operational platform of the JA-WZO, reformulated in 2004 as the Jerusalem Programme, further clarifies how the State of Israel will serve as a “Jewish State”. Its language is illuminating, especially in the light of the broad powers held by the JA-WZO, cited above:

Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, brought about the establishment of the State of Israel, and views a Jewish, Zionist, democratic and secure State of Israel to be the expression of the common responsibility of the Jewish people for its continuity and future. The foundations of Zionism are:

  • The unity of the Jewish people, its bond to its historic homeland Eretz Yisrael, and the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital, in the life of the nation.
  • Aliyah to Israel from all countries and the effective integration of all [Jewish] immigrants into Israeli Society.
  • Strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic State and shaping it as an exemplary society with a unique moral and spiritual character, marked by mutual respect for the multi-faceted Jewish people, rooted in the vision of the prophets, striving for peace and contributing to the betterment of the world.
  • Ensuring the future and the distinctiveness of the Jewish people by furthering Jewish, Hebrew and Zionist education, fostering spiritual and cultural values and teaching Hebrew as the national language.
  • Nurturing mutual Jewish responsibility, defending the rights of Jews as individuals and as a nation, representing the national Zionist interests of the Jewish people, and struggling against all manifestations of anti-Semitism.
  • Settling the country as an expression of practical Zionism (emphasis added, bullet points in the original).60This discussion, although incomplete, should suffice to demonstrate that Israel is designed to be a racial regime. To remain a “Jewish State,” uncontested Jewish- nationalist domination over the indigenous Palestinian people is essential — an advantage secured in the democracy of Israel by population size — and State laws, national institutions, development practices and security policies all focus on that mission. Different methods are applied to Palestinian populations depending on where they live, requiring variations in their administration. Within Israel that discriminatory feature is exhibited by the deceptive distinction between citizenship laws that treat all Israelis more or less equally, and nationality laws that are blatantly discriminatory in favour of Jews. The distinction allows Israel to continue

60 See http://www.wzo.org.il/The-Jerusalem-Program. Accessed 19 February 2017.

its insistence on being “a democracy”, while discriminating in fundamental ways against its non-Jewish citizens.

Most important here is that Israel uses different methods of administration to control Palestinian populations depending on where they live, generating distinctive conditions. Fragmentation of the Palestinian people is indeed the core method through which Israel enforces apartheid.

C. Apartheid through fragmentation

Different methods of administration are used to control Palestinian populations depending on where they live. The practical onus of that administrative complexity also benefits Israel, as the fragmentation of the Palestinian people is the core method through which Israel enforces apartheid.

It would be an error to assume that, although comprising one regime, apartheid is effected through a single monolithic body of laws, applied everywhere to everyone without variation. The South African case is relevant here: even within the comprehensive body of law that defined life chances for everyone in the country, apartheid included important variations: for instance, different laws for black South Africans living in townships and in the Bantustans and different privileges for Indians and Coloureds. Similarly, the apartheid regime of Israel operates by splintering the Palestinian people geographically and politically into different

legal categories.

The international community has unwittingly collaborated with this manoeuvre by drawing a strict distinction between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory, and treating Palestinians outside the country as “the refugee problem”. The Israeli apartheid regime is built on this geographic fragmentation, which has come to be accepted as normative. The method of fragmentation serves also to obscure this regime’s very existence. That system, thus, lies at the heart of what is to be addressed in this report.

The four domains

This report finds that Israel maintains an apartheid regime by administering Palestinians under different bodies of law, identified here as constituting four legal domains:

• Domain 1: laws curtailing the capacity of Palestinian citizens of Israel to obtain equal rights within the State’s democracy.

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  • Domain 2: permanent residency laws designed to maintain a highly insecure legal status for Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem.
  • Domain 3: military law governing Palestinians in occupied Palestinian territory as a permanently alien population, which rejects any claim they may want to make on Israeli political representation for equal rights and conditions.
  • Domain 4: policy preventing Palestinian refugees and involuntary exiles from returning to their homes in Mandate Palestine (all territory under the direct control of Israel).These domains interplay so as to enfeeble Palestinian resistance to Israeli apartheid oppression in each of them, thereby reinforcing oppression of the Palestinian people as a whole. The following sections describe how the system works.61

Palestinian citizens of Israel

Palestinian residents
of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem)

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem

Palestinian refugees and exiles

61 Much of the following section represents an edited version of the discussion in Tilley (ed.), Beyond Occupation, chap. 4.

Domain 1: Palestinian citizens of Israel

Approximately 1.7 million Palestinians are citizens of Israel and have homes within its internationally recognized borders. They represent those who were not expelled or did not flee in the 1948 or 1967 wars. As citizens, they purportedly enjoy equal rights along with all Israeli citizens. For the first 20 years of the country’s existence, however, they were subjected to martial law and they continue to experience domination and oppression solely because they are not Jewish. Empirically, this policy of domination is manifest by the provision of inferior social services, restrictive zoning laws, and limited budget allocations benefitting their communities, in formal and informal restrictions on jobs and professional opportunities, and in the segregated landscapes of their places of residence: Jewish and Palestinian citizens overwhelmingly live separately in their own respective cities and towns (the few mixed areas, as in some neighbourhoods in Haifa, are exceptional).62

Those problems are not only the result of discrete policies. The dilemma for Palestinian Muslim, Christian and other non-Jewish citizens is to seek equal rights in a regime that openly privileges Jews.63 Any actions to weaken or eliminate that regime are considered “national” (that is, Jewish-national) threats. Even constitutional law providing for equal treatment before the law, such as Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation (see above), allows for discrimination on those “national” grounds. Israeli constitutional law therefore, rather than providing tools for combatting oppression, makes resistance to oppression illegal.

The concern of the regime is that Palestinian citizens of Israel could eliminate its discriminatory design if they were able to revise the Basic Law and other key legislation (such as the Law of Return). Such changes require only a simple majority vote in the Knesset. However, as long as Palestinians represent only 20 per cent of the population, they will be unable to win the necessary proportion of Knesset seats. For example, even after forming an unprecedented unity list for elections to the Knesset in 2015, Palestinian parties held only 13 (10.6 per cent) of 120 seats. Because the Basic Law: Knesset disallows political parties from adopting a platform containing any challenge to the identity of Israel as a Jewish State,

62 See Ian Lustick, Arabs in the Jewish State: Israel’s Control of a National Minority (Austin, University of Texas Press, 1980); Nadim Rouhana, Palestinian Citizens in an Ethnic Jewish State: Identities in Conflict (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1997) and Ben White, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy (London, Pluto Press, 2011).

63 Druze citizens of Israel have fallen into a different category under Israeli policy. They serve in the military and are accorded rights and treatment superior to those of Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

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Palestinian parties can campaign only for minor reforms and better municipal budgets. They are legally prohibited from challenging the racial regime itself. Thus the right to vote is circumscribed by laws regarding party platforms.64

Any study of domain 1 will involve interpreting coded language. For example, the Admissions Committee Law of 2011 authorizes the creation of private Jewish councils in small rural Jewish towns to exclude applications for residency on the basis of the applicants’ “social suitability”. This is a proxy term for Jewish identity and provides a legal mechanism for such communities to reject Palestinian applicants.65

Israeli law must be evaluated in its application in order to determine whether a racist agenda lies beneath the apparently neutral legal language. A plethora of Israeli laws reserve public benefits to those who qualify as citizens under the Citizenship Law and the Law of Return — an oblique reference to Jews — thus creating a nested system of covert racism that is invisible to the casual observer.

Effectively interchangeable under international law, the terms “citizenship” (ezrahut) as “nationality” (le’um) have distinct meanings in Israel, where citizenship rights and national rights are not the same thing. Any citizen enjoys the former, but only Jews enjoy the latter, as only Jewish nationality is recognized under Israeli law. These and other laws comprise a regime of systematic racial discrimination that imposes second-class citizenship on Palestinian citizens of Israel.66 The broad impact is confirmed even by Israeli data, which detail, for instance, inferior funding for Palestinian schools, businesses, agriculture and health care, as well as limits on access to jobs and freedom of residence.

Thus, domain 1 sustains the myth that one portion of the Palestinian people enjoys the full benefits of democracy, while at the same strengthening the apartheid

64 The Arab-Israeli party Balad has uniquely adopted an openly anti-Zionist platform and calls for Israel to become a State of all its citizens. The arrests, attacks, investigations and Supreme Court cases involving Balad illustrate the determination of the Israeli authorities not to let this stand spread.

65 Human Rights Watch, “Israel: New Laws Marginalize Palestinian Arab Citizens”, 30 March 2011: “The “admissions committee” law requires anyone seeking to move to any community in the Negev and Galilee regions with fewer than 400 families to obtain approval from committees consisting of town residents, a member of the Jewish Agency or World Zionist Organization, and several others. The law empowers these committees to reject candidates who, among other things, “are ill- suited to the community’s way of life” or “might harm the community’s fabric”. Available from https://www.hrw.org/news/2011/03/30/israel-new-laws-marginalize-palestinian-arab-citizens.

66 A particularly valuable source on this discrimination is the database of discriminatory laws maintained by Adalah: Centre for Legal Rights of the Arab Minority in Israel, which in 2016 listed more than 50 discriminatory laws of Israel, and reports on related legal challenges. Available from http://www.adalah.org/en/law/index.

regime that serves to preserve Israel as a Jewish State. Israel uses the trappings of token universal democracy to lead many observers astray and deflect international opprobrium. The success of this approach depends on limiting Palestinian citizens to a politically ineffectual minority. However, it is impossible to fully appreciate this outcome without examining Israeli policies and practices in the other three domains. Indeed, the success of domain 1 depends on the workings of the

other three.

Domain 2: Palestinians in East Jerusalem

Israeli policies towards the some 300,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem can be addressed more concisely.67 The discrimination evident in domain 1 is reproduced: Palestinians in East Jerusalem experience discrimination in areas such as education, health care, employment, residency and building rights, experience expulsion from their homes and house demolitions consistent with a project of ethnic engineering of Greater Jerusalem, and suffer harsher treatment at the hands of the security forces.68

The central question here, however, is not whether Israel discriminates against Palestinians — amply confirmed by the data — but how the domain for Palestinians in East Jerusalem operates as an integral element of the apartheid regime. In brief, domain 2 situates Jerusalem Palestinians in a separate category designed to prevent them from adding to the demographic, political and electoral weight of Palestinians inside Israel. Specific policies regarding their communities and rights are designed to pressure them to emigrate and to quell, or at least minimize, resistance to that pressure. The “grand apartheid”69 dimension of this domain can be appreciated by observing how the Israeli Jerusalem municipality has openly pursued a policy of “demographic balance” in East Jerusalem. For instance, the Jerusalem 2000 master plan seeks to achieve a 60/40 demographic balance in favour of Jewish residents.70 As long ago as the 1980s, the municipality had drafted master plans to fragment Palestinian neighbourhoods

  1. 67  The figure of 300,000 was provided by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel in March 2015.
  2. 68  For more details, see A/HRC/31/73; B’Tselem, “Statistics on Palestinians in custody of the Israeli security forces” (January

2017, available from http://www.btselem.org/statistics/detainees_and_prisoners); Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Humanitarian Bulletin (16 November 2015, available from https://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_the_humanitarian_monitor_2014_12_11_english.pdf); Alternative Information Center (AIC), “OCHA: One in two Palestinians to need humanitarian assistance in 2017” (26 January 2017, available from http://alternativenews.org/index.php/headlines/329-ocha-one-in-two-palestinians-to-need-humanitarian-assistance-in-2017).

  1. 69  See Tilley, “A Palestinian declaration of independence”.
  2. 70  A/HRC/22/63, para. 25.

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with intervening Jewish ones, stifling the natural growth of the Palestinian population and pressuring Palestinians to leave.71 Describing Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem as “neighbourhoods” is part of the wider tactic of disguising violations of international humanitarian law through the use of non-committal language.

Such policies have a significant impact because Jerusalem has such importance for the collective identity of Palestinians as a people. For them, the city is the administrative, cultural, business and political capital of Palestine, home to the Palestinian elite, and site of hallowed places of worship and remembrance. Although many Palestinians in East Jerusalem maintain networks of family and business connections with Palestinian citizens in Israel, the West Bank and (now to a lesser extent) the Gaza Strip, their primary interest is to go about their lives and pursue their interests in the city where they have homes, businesses, a vigorous urban society, strong cultural resonances, and, in some cases, ancestral roots going back millennia.

Israel pursues efforts to weaken the Palestinians politically and contain their demographic weight in several ways. One is to grant Palestinians in East Jerusalem the status of permanent residents: that is, as foreigners for whom residency in the land of their birth is a privilege rather than a right, subject to revocation. That status is then made conditional on what Israeli law terms their “centre of life”, evaluated by documented criteria such as home and business ownership, attendance at local schools and involvement in local organizations. If the centre of life of an individual or family appears to have shifted elsewhere, such as across the Green Line, their residency in Jerusalem may be revoked.

A Palestinian resident of Jerusalem who has spent time abroad may also find that Israel has revoked his or her residency in Jerusalem.

Proving that Jerusalem is one’s “centre of life” is burdensome: it requires submitting numerous documents, “including such items as home ownership papers or a rent contract, various bills (water, electricity, municipal taxes), salary slips, proof of receiving medical care in the city, certification of children’s

school registration”.72 The difficulty in meeting the criteria is suggested

71 For further discussion of the Jerusalem master plans, see Francesco Chiodelli, “The Jerusalem Master Plan: planning into the conflict”, Journal of Palestine Studies, No. 51 (2012). Available from http://www.palestine-studies.org/jq/fulltext/78505. For related maps, see Bimkom, Trapped by Planning: Israeli Policy, Planning and Development in the Palestinian Neighborhoods of East Jerusalem (Jerusalem, 2014). Available from http://bimkom.org/eng/wp-content/uploads/TrappedbyPlanning.pdf.

72 B’tselem, “Revocation of residency in East Jerusalem”, 18 August 2013. Available from http://www.btselem.org/jerusalem/revocation_of_residency.

by the consequences of failure to do so: between 1996 (a year after the “centre of life” legislation was passed) and 2014, Jerusalem residency was revoked for more than 11,000 Palestinians.73 To avoid that risk, a growing, albeit relatively low, number of Palestinians are seeking Israeli citizenship. Israel has granted only about half of those requests.74

Their fragile status as permanent residents leaves Palestinians in East Jerusalem with no legal standing to contest the laws of the State or to join Palestinian citizens of Israel in any legislative challenge to the discrimination imposed on them. Openly identifying with Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory politically carries with it the risk of Israel expelling them, for violating security provisions, to the West Bank and removing their right even to visit Jerusalem. Thus, the urban epicentre of Palestinian nationalism and political life is caught inside a legal bubble that neutralizes Palestinians’ capacity to oppose the apartheid regime.75

Domain 3: Palestinians in occupied Palestinian territory

The roughly 4.6 million Palestinians who live in the occupied Palestinian territory (2.7 million in the West Bank and 1.9 million in the Gaza Strip) are governed not by Israeli civil law, but by military law, codified as orders issued by the commander of the territories and administered by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and other designated arms of the occupying power.76 Since the Israeli “disengagement” and withdrawal of settlers in 2005, the Gaza Strip has been internally governed by the Hamas Government (elected in 2006 to head the Palestinian Authority but later deposed). Still, Israeli military law continues to apply for Gaza regarding exclusive Israeli control over Palestinian movement and trade in and out of the territory, the unilaterally imposed “security zone” along the perimeter fence, and Palestinian

73 Data from B’tselem, Statistics on Revocation of Residency in East Jerusalem. Available from http://www.btselem.org/jerusalem/revocation_statistics.

74 Maayan Lubell, “Breaking taboo, East Jerusalem Palestinians seek Israeli citizenship in East Jerusalem”, Haaretz, 5 August 2015. Available from http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.669643. According to the article, the number of Jerusalem Palestinians applying for Israeli citizenship has grown to between 800 and 1,000 annually, although in 2012 and 2013 only 189 out of 1,434 applications were approved.

75 Nonetheless, Palestinians in Jerusalem have made formidable contributions to critiques of Israeli policies, the more impressive for their having done so under such conditions.

76 Until the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, governance of the occupied Palestinian territory was assigned to a “civil administration” operating within the IDF. In 1994, much of its authority was transferred to the Palestinian Authority (also known as the Palestinian National Authority), an interim self-government body.

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access to fishing areas and sea routes. Gaza remains, therefore, under military occupation in the eyes of the United Nations.77

In 2009, a comprehensive report by the Human Rights Research Council of South Africa found that Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territory were overwhelmingly consistent with apartheid (see annex I). Israel has not accepted those findings, however, on several grounds. Those who claim that Israel does not govern Palestinians in an apartheid regime invariably cite conditions and rights for Palestinians in domain 1 (citizens of Israel). Leaving aside the issue of domain 2, they say that the situation of Palestinians in the occupied territory is irrelevant to the question. That approach can be persuasive at first glance. Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are not citizens of Israel and, under the laws of war (cf. the Fourth Geneva Convention), are not supposed to be. The differential treatment by Israel of citizens and non-citizens in the occupied Palestinian territory could therefore seem admissible or, at least, irrelevant. In this common view, Israel would be practicing apartheid only if it annexed the territory, declared one State in all of Mandate Palestine and, thereafter, continued to deny equal rights to Palestinians. Influential voices such as former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former United States President Jimmy Carter, former United States Secretary of State John Kerry, and a host of Israeli, American and other critics and pundits have warned that Israel should withdraw from the West Bank precisely to avoid that scenario.

However, those warnings rest on flawed assumptions. First, Israel already administers the occupied Palestinian territory in ways consistent with apartheid, given that the territory has not one population but two: (a) Palestinian civilians, governed by military law; and (b) some 350,000 Jewish settlers, governed by Israeli civil law. The racial character of this situation is evidenced by the fact that all West Bank settlers are administered by Israeli civil law on the basis of being Jewish, whether they are Israeli citizens or not.78 Thus, Israel administers the West Bank

77 The authors of this report concur with those scholars who have concluded that Gaza remains under military occupation. Although governed entirely by Palestinians, key elements of apartheid as defined by the Apartheid Convention remain. In particular, Israel has exclusive control of the borders of Gaza and, since 2007, has imposed a blockade, which translates into draconian restrictions on Palestinian movement that affect trade, work, education and access to health care (article II (c)), and repression of any resistance to those conditions (article II (f)). The Palestinian Authority has suffered from de facto separation, particularly since the 2006 legislative election victory of Hamas and the clashes that led to its taking effective control over the Gaza Strip in 2007. Between then and 2014, there were two de facto Palestinian Governments, one in Gaza and the other in Ramallah, controlled by Hamas and the Fatah movement respectively. In 2014, they formed a national unity Government, although Hamas retained effective control of the Gaza Strip.

78 Limor Yehuda and others, One Rule Two Legal Systems: Israel’s Regime of Laws in the West Bank (Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), October 2014), p. 108. Available from http://www.acri.org.il/en/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Two-Systems-of- Law-English-FINAL.pdf.

through a dual legal system, based on race, which has led to expressions of concern by, among many others, former special rapporteurs Mr. Dugard and Mr. Falk.

Secondly, the character of this dual legal system, problematic in itself, is aggravated by how the State of Israel manages land and development on the basis of race. By denying Palestinians essential zoning, building and business permits, Israeli military rule has crippled the Palestinian economy and society, leaving Palestinian cities and towns (outside the Ramallah enclave) increasingly under- resourced and suffocating their growth and the welfare of their inhabitants. The Israeli blockade of Gaza has resulted in even worse living conditions for the entrapped Palestinian population there.

In contrast, Jewish settlements in the West Bank are flourishing. All State ministries provide support for their planning, funding, building and servicing; some, such as the Ministry of Construction and Housing and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, have been entirely committed to doing so. They also offer financial incentives for Jews to move to the settlements, including interest-free loans, school grants, special recreational facilities, new office blocks, agricultural subsidies, job training and employment guarantees. State complicity is further demonstrated by measures to integrate the economy, society and politics of Jewish settlements into those of Israel, generating seamless travel and electricity networks, a unified banking and finance system for Jews, Jewish business investment, and, in particular, a customs union.79

This vast State involvement belies any claim that the settlements are the work of maverick religious zealots, and challenges the plausibility of claims that Israel will leave the West Bank as soon as a negotiated settlement is achieved.80 The scale, complexity and cost of the settlement grid, estimated by some researchers at hundreds of billions of United States dollars, further underline the intensity of the Israeli commitment to the settlements. The potential cost of (and political resistance to) withdrawal far exceed the political will or capacity of any Israeli Government.

The dual legal system applied by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory justifies two brief digressions from the report’s method: of eschewing a check-list method (comparing a State’s behaviour with the Apartheid Convention’s sample “inhuman acts”) and avoiding comparisons with southern Africa. A check-list

  1. 79  Eyal Benvenisti, The International Law of Occupation (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 135.
  2. 80  In July 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced: “I think the Israeli people understand now what I

always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” See David Horovitz, “Netanyahu finally speaks his mind”, The Times of Israel, 13 July 2014.

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approach helps to clarify how Israel imposes apartheid on one racial group in order to ensure the domination of another. Such an item-by-item comparison of Israeli practices with the “inhuman acts” listed in the Apartheid Convention was undertaken for the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC) report issued in 2009. The findings of that study, summarized in annex I, were conclusive: except for the provision on genocide (which was not practiced in southern Africa either), every “inhuman act” listed in the Apartheid Convention is practiced by Israel in the West Bank.

The architects of South African apartheid adopted a strategy of “grand apartheid” to secure white supremacy in the long term through the country’s geographic partition into white areas (most of the country) and disarticulated black areas. That policy inspired the clause in the Apartheid Convention denouncing as a crime the creation of “separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups” (article II (d)). “Bantu” or “black” reserves were controlled by black South Africans appointed as leaders by the State. In the rhetoric of “grand apartheid”, those reserves or “homelands” were slated to become independent States that would provide self-determination to black South African peoples (language groups). Black South African governors were authorized (and armed) to suppress resistance by their African inhabitants, many of whom had been forcibly transferred into them, and to govern their territories in ways compatible with white development interests. That model so closely resembles current premises supporting a two-State solution in Palestine that it calls for sober reflection, not least because of the violent and destabilizing effects it had throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

The question arises as to whether Israel has deliberately pursued fragmentation of the West Bank into an archipelago of Palestinian cantons, divided by intervening Jewish-only areas (the Bantustan model). Certainly, this geography will permanently enfeeble any putative Palestinian sovereignty, preserving the prerogative of Israel to administer intervening land for the Jewish people. Oslo II, paradoxically, facilitated this “grand” strategy by establishing borders for the Palestinian autonomy enclaves. The comparison with South Africa helps to clarify an essential observation: with Israeli Jewish-national domination over an area dotted with Palestinian autonomy zones, apartheid is expressed as fully in a partition strategy as it is in a unified State.

In sum, domain 3 has been configured to exclude indefinitely the 4.6 million Palestinians living under Israeli military law from mounting any claim against the State of Israel for rights under Israeli civil law. International law and diplomacy, with its commitment to reject the acquisition of territory by force, has led to the population of the occupied Palestinian territory being projected as a permanently separate and distinct Palestinian-national entity. Well intentioned and based on

international law, this approach has had the effect of splitting Palestinians in the occupied territory from the 1.7 million Palestinian citizens of Israel and those in East Jerusalem. In that way, the demographic balance in Israel can be maintained as Jewish and a united Palestinian challenge to its apartheid regime can be avoided.

Domain 4: Palestinian refugees and involuntary exiles

In early 2016, 3,162,602 Palestinians living outside Mandate Palestine were officially registered as refugees by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).81 Estimates of the entire refugee population, including those not registered with UNRWA and people who left Palestine under other circumstances and are not allowed to return (referred to as “involuntary exiles” in this report), range from six to eight million people. Although an exact count is difficult given the global diaspora of Palestinians now in their fourth and fifth generations, by any responsible estimate more Palestinians live outside Mandate Palestine than in it.82

Palestinian refugees are widely distributed. Approximately two million live in the occupied Palestinian territory: 792,000 in camps in the West Bank and 1.3 million in the Gaza Strip. Living under Israeli occupation, these people fall under domain 3, although they benefit from some protections and special services from UNRWA. The rest live mostly in the frontline States of Jordan (around 2.1 million), Lebanon (around 458,000) and the Syrian Arab Republic (around 560,000).83 Only about 5 per cent live outside the Middle East. Lacking any citizenship, they are subject, without recourse, to the laws of their host State (not always comfortably, as some States — notably Lebanon — impose special restrictions on Palestinian refugees).84 Those conditions have contributed to sustaining a strong nationalist nostalgia and sentiment among the great majority of Palestinian refugees regarding their origins in Palestine and a potent sense of enduring injustice resulting from Israeli policies. Their inability to return to their country thus remains a central grievance and a key

81 UNRWA lists of total of 5,266,603 refugees, the difference being accounted for by those living in the occupied Palestinian territory. See https://www.unrwa.org/where-we-work. Accessed 8 February 2017.

82 The figure is a middle estimate, as the number of Palestinians who fled in the 1948 war has not been firmly established. Some scholars suggest 700,000 and 750,000 left; the Israelis provide a figure of 520,000; and Palestinian authorities estimate the number at between 900,000 and 1 million.

83 UNRWA, UNRWA in figures as of 1 Jan 2016. Available from https://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/content/resources/unrwa_in_figures_2016.pdf.

84 For a short summary of the conditions in which Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon, see Meghan Monahan, Treatment of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Human Rights Brief (2 February 2015). Available from http://hrbrief.org/2015/02/treatment-of- palestinian-refugees-in-lebanon.

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issue in peace talks. Politically, no Palestinian leadership can acquiesce to a peace agreement that ignores the refugees.

In 1948, General Assembly resolution 194(III) resolved that “the [Palestinian] refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so” and that compensation should be provided to the rest. Israel has rejected the application of that resolution on security grounds and on the basis of the “demographic threat” of a Palestinian majority: in the unlikely event that the entire Palestinian population of refugees and involuntary exiles returned to Palestine en masse, the Palestinian population under Israeli rule would total some 12 million, electorally overwhelming the 6.5 million Jews in Israel. Even if that refugee population returned in numbers sufficient only to generate a Palestinian majority (as is far more likely), Israel would be forced into either adopting an explicitly apartheid policy in order to exclude them, and abandoning democracy altogether, or enfranchising them and abandoning the vision of Israel as a Jewish State. As expressed in an article posted on the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website:

According to Palestinian sources, there are about 3.5 million Palestinian refugees nowadays registered with UNRWA. If Israel were to allow all of them to return to her territory, this would be an act of suicide on her part, and no State can be expected to destroy itself (emphasis added).85

Thus, domain 4 plays an essential role in the apartheid regime of Israel. Its refusal to allow refugees and involuntary exiles to return ensures that the Palestinian population never gains the demographic weight that would either threaten Israeli military control of the occupied Palestinian territory, or provide the demographic leverage within Israel to allow them to insist on full democratic rights, which would supersede the Jewish character of the State of Israel. In short, domain 4 ensures that Palestinians will never be able to change the system in ways that would lead to political equality between the two peoples.

D. Counter-arguments

Several arguments can be and have been made to deny that the Apartheid Convention is even applicable to the case of Israel-Palestine. Some of them, such

85 Ruth Lapidoth, “Do Palestinian refugees have a right to return to Israel?”, posted on Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 15 January 2001. Available from http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/do%20palestinian%20refugees%20have %20a%20right%20to%20return%20to.aspx.

as the contention that Jews and Palestinians are not “races” and that, because Palestinian citizens of Israel enjoy the right to vote, the treatment of them by the Israeli State cannot constitute apartheid, are addressed and rejected above. Other arguments include:

1. Consistency with international practice: The Israeli doctrine of maintaining a Jewish majority, enabling the Jewish people to have its own nation-State, is consistent with the behaviour of States around the world, such as France, which express the self-determination of their respective ethnic nations. It is therefore unfair and exceptional treatment — and implicitly anti-Semitic — to target Israel as an apartheid State when it is only doing the same.

This common argument derives from miscasting how national identities function in modern nation States. In France, for example, anyone holding French citizenship, regardless of whether they are indigenous or of immigrant origin, are equal members of the French nation and enjoy equal rights. According to the Supreme Court, Israel is not the State of the “Israeli nation” but of the “Jewish nation”.86 Collective rights in Israeli law are explicitly conferred on Jews as a people and on no other collective identity: national rights for Jews, embedded in such laws as the Law of Return and the Citizenship Law (discussed above) do not extend to any other group under Israeli rule. Hence, racial-nationalist privileges are embedded in the legal and doctrinal foundations of the State. That is exceptional and would meet with opprobrium in any other country (as it did in apartheid South Africa).

2. The standing of Palestinians as foreigners: Palestinian residents of the occupied Palestinian territory are not citizens of the State and so the State does not owe them rights and treatment equal to that accorded to Israeli Jewish citizens and settlers.

The similarities between the legal situation in Palestinian territory under Israeli occupation and in Namibia under South African occupation have already been noted. Israel has denied Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory Israeli citizenship because they are not Jews. As the “in-gathering” of Jews is a central mission of Israeli State institutions and the State promotes naturalisation of Jews from other parts of the world, it is fair to assume that the Palestinians, born in territory under the State’s exclusive control, would have been granted Israeli citizenship had they been Jewish (and had they wanted it). In its General Recommendation No. 30 on discrimination against non-citizens, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial

86 George Rafael Tamarin v. State of Israel (1972) C.A.630/70.

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Discrimination recommends that States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination should:

Recognize that deprivation of citizenship on the basis of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin is a breach of States parties’ obligations to ensure non-discriminatory enjoyment of the right to nationality.87

The Apartheid Convention cites as crimes of apartheid “measures calculated to deny members of a racial group or groups” basic human rights, including “the right to a nationality” (article II (c)). Thus, the argument that Israel cannot be responsible for Palestinians who are non-citizens reinforces a finding of apartheid when one asks why they are not citizens. At the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is indeed the exclusion of the Palestinians, as non-Jews, from citizenship in the State that governs their country. (The liminal condition of living in a “State of Palestine” recently recognized by the General Assembly yet lacking all attributes of sovereignty has not provided Palestinians with a “citizenship” that has concrete application.)

3. The purpose clause. Israeli policies that oppress Palestinians are motivated by security concerns, and not the intention or desire to impose racial domination.

The Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute define crimes of apartheid as acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group over another. It could be argued that Israeli practices are only temporary measures, the purpose of which is not racial domination, but only to maintain order until a peace agreement removes the need for such measures. However, the security issues related to Israeli measures relevant to this study are usually cited only in relation to the occupied Palestinian territory, while the apartheid regime is applied to the Palestinian people as a whole. Moreover, apartheid is prohibited under international law irrespective of its duration.88 The Apartheid Convention makes no distinction in terms of the period of time apartheid is carried out or the State’s ultimate vision for the future.89

  1. 87  CERD/C/64/Misc.11/rev.3, para. 14.
  2. 88  The uniquely extended character of the Israeli occupation has generated a new body of literature on the legal implications

of “prolonged occupation”. For more on this, see Tilley (ed.), Beyond Occupation, chap. 2.

89 The Government of apartheid South Africa also argued that racial domination was not a goal in itself but a defensive measure designed to preserve the way of life of the white population. Apartheid was presented as merely a stage on the path to a mutually beneficial end, in which all “peoples” of South Africa would enjoy self-determination and peaceful coexistence. In practice, the “homelands” system was geared towards stabilizing the low-cost workforce and white land tenure.

3. Conclusions and Recommendations A. Conclusions

This report establishes, on the basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. However, only a ruling by an international tribunal in that sense would make such an assessment truly authoritative. The authors therefore urge the United Nations to implement this finding by fulfilling its international responsibilities in relation to international law and the rights of the Palestinian people as a matter of urgency, for two reasons. First, the situation addressed in the report is ongoing. Many investigations of crimes against humanity have concerned past behaviour or events, such as civil wars involving genocides, which have formally concluded. In such cases, the international community faces no particular pressure to act in a timely way to terminate an ongoing crime prior to investigating the legal facts of culpability. In the case of Israel-Palestine, any delay compounds the crime by prolonging the subjugation of Palestinians to the active practice of apartheid by Israel. Prompt action is accordingly imperative to avert further human suffering and end a crime against humanity that is being committed now.

Secondly, the extreme gravity of the charge requires prompt action. Since the 1970s, when the international campaign to oppose apartheid in southern Africa gathered momentum, apartheid has been considered in the annals of the United Nations and world public opinion to be second only to genocide in the hierarchy of criminality.90 This report accordingly recommends that the international community act immediately, without waiting for a more formal pronouncement regarding the culpability of the State of Israel, its Government and its officials for the commission of the crime of apartheid.

While urging swift action to oppose and end this apartheid regime, the authors of this report urge as a matter of highest priority that authoritative bodies be requested to review its findings. Opinions of the General Assembly, ICJ and ICC are especially crucial, although assessments by national courts would also be relevant to interpreting international criminal law and appraising its

90 Genocide and apartheid are the only two international crimes, the commission of which States have a duty to prevent.

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implementation by Member States. On the basis of such findings, States and United Nations bodies could deliberate on a firm foundation of international law how best to discharge their responsibility to address and bring to an end the crime of apartheid and domination of the Palestinian people. In any event, pending that longer deliberative process, the authors of this report conclude that the weight of the evidence supports beyond a reasonable doubt the contention that Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people.

The prohibition of apartheid is considered jus cogens in international customary law. States have a separate and collective duty (a) not to recognize an apartheid regime as lawful; (b) not to aid or assist a State in maintaining an apartheid regime; and (c) to cooperate with the United Nations and other States in bringing apartheid regimes to an end. A State that fails to fulfil those duties could itself be held legally responsible for engaging in wrongful acts involving complicity with maintaining an apartheid regime. The United Nations and its agencies, and all Member States, have a legal obligation to act within their capabilities to prevent and punish instances of apartheid that are responsibly brought to their attention.

Civil society institutions and individuals also have a moral duty to use the instruments at their disposal to raise awareness of this ongoing criminal enterprise, and to exert pressure on Israel to dismantle apartheid structures and negotiate in good faith for a lasting peace that acknowledges the rights of Palestinians under international law and makes it possible for the two peoples to live together on the basis of real equality.

Apartheid in southern Africa was brought to an end, in part, by the cumulative impact of a variety of measures, including economic sanctions and sports boycotts, undertaken with the blessing of United Nations bodies and many Member States, and with grassroots support in States with strong strategic and economic ties with South Africa. The effectiveness of the anti-apartheid campaign was in large part due to the transnational activism of civil society, which reinforced the intergovernmental consensus that took shape in the United Nations.

B. Recommendations

The following recommendations cover general responsibilities and those of specific institutional actors. Their purpose is, first of all, to focus attention on the principal finding of this report, that Israel has imposed a regime of apartheid on the Palestinian people as a whole, thereby challenging the United Nations and other international, national and civil society actors (including private citizens) to act in

response. They are also designed to encourage the implementation of practical measures in accordance with international law to exert pressure on Israel to dismantle its apartheid regime and end the unlawful status quo by engaging in a peace process that seeks a just solution.

General Recommendations

  1. United Nations bodies, national Governments and civil society actors, including religious organizations, should formally endorse the principal finding of this report that the treatment by Israel of the Palestinians is consistent with the crime of apartheid.
  2. On that basis, those actors should examine what measures can be taken in accordance with their legal obligations, as set forth under the Apartheid Convention. As the crime of apartheid qualifies as a peremptory or jus cogens norm of international law, States are bound by the Convention even if they are not parties to it, and would have similar legal obligations even in the absence of the convention, because the crime of apartheid is prohibited under customary international law.

Recommendations for the United Nations

  1. Each United Nations body should promptly consider what action to take in view of the finding that Israel maintains a racist regime of apartheid in its exercise of control over the Palestinian people, taking due account of the fragmentation of that people by Israel, which is itself an aspect of the control arrangements that rely on “inhuman acts” for the purpose of systematic racial domination.
  2. ESCWA should take a central role in advocating international cooperation to end the apartheid regime. Its special role in this respect derives not only from the Commission’s geographic position but also its mandate.
  3. United Nations entities should cooperate with one another, and in particular with ESCWA, to discuss and disseminate this report. They should consider, possibly in cooperation with the Palestinian Government and other Palestinian institutions, convening a special meeting to assess how to follow up on and implement the recommendations of the report.
  4. The General Assembly should, taking inspiration from resolution 1761(XVII) of 6 November 1962, revive the Special Committee against Apartheid, and the United Nations Centre against Apartheid (1976-1991), which would report authoritatively on Israeli practices and policies relating to the crime of apartheid, including the legal and administrative instrumentalities used to carry out the underlying criminal enterprise. Those bodies gathered and

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disseminated vital legal analysis and information with respect to South African apartheid. Those resources benefited not only jurists and scholars, but also civil society activists around the world, helping them to shape media presentations and public opinion, legitimating calls for boycotts, divestments and sanctions, and contributing overall to the formation of a transnational movement against apartheid in South Africa.

  1. The Human Rights Council should be vested with particular responsibility for examining the findings of this report and reinforcing its recommendations. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 should be instructed to report annually to the Council and the Third Committee of the General Assembly on steps taken to comply with the terms of the Apartheid Convention and to encourage member States of the Council to take appropriate action.
  2. The competent bodies of the United Nations should consider seeking an advisory opinion from the ICJ as to whether the means used by Israel to maintain control over the Palestinian people amount to the crime of apartheid and, if so, what steps should be taken to end that situation promptly.
  3. Pursuant to article 7 (1) (j) of the Rome Statute, the ICC should be formally encouraged to investigate, as a matter of urgency, whether the State of Israel, its Governments and individuals, in implementing policies and practices with respect to the Palestinian people, are guilty of the crime of apartheid and, if so, to act accordingly.
  4. On the basis of this report, the Secretary-General should be respectfully urged to recommend to the General Assembly and the Security Council that a global conference be convened at an early date in order to consider what action should be taken by the United Nations and what might be recommended to civil society and private sector actors.

Recommendations for national Governments of Member States

  1. National Governments should be reminded of their legal duty under international law to take appropriate action to prevent the crime of apartheid and punish its perpetrators, taking cognizance of the findings of this report and any parallel findings by competent bodies.
  2. National Governments should, within the limits of their legislative, executive and judicial institutions, take appropriate action, including allowing criminal prosecutions of Israeli officials demonstrably connected with the practices of apartheid against the Palestinian people.
  3. National Governments, especially of member States of ECSWA, should explore ways of cooperating in the discharge of their duty to oppose and overcome the regime of apartheid.

4. National Governments should support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives.

Recommendations for civil society and private sector actors

  1. Civil society actors should be invited to submit to the Human Rights Council reactions to this report. A special meeting should be convened to consider those reactions and to plan appropriate next steps, including recommendations to the Human Rights Council and to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
  2. Efforts should be made to broaden support for boycott, divestment and sanctions initiatives among civil society actors.
  3. Private sector actors should be made aware of the findings of this report and requested to act accordingly, including by informing the public about the criminality of the apartheid regime, and urging Governments to fulfil their obligations under the Apartheid Convention and to propose initiatives that could be undertaken by civil society. Private sector actors should also be reminded of their legal, moral and political responsibility to sever ties with commercial ventures and projects that directly or indirectly aid and abet the apartheid regime imposed.

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Annex I

Findings of the 2009 HSRC Report

Legal analysis cited here from Beyond Occupation draws from work by contributors to a study conducted between 2007 and 2009, under the auspices of the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC) and at the request of the South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Coordinated, co-authored and edited by Virginia Tilley, that study was issued in 2009 under the title Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A Reassessment of Israel’s Practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories under International Law. Principal contributors included Iain Scobbie, Professor and Chair of International Law, University of Manchester (Great Britain); Max du Plessis, Associate Professor of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban) and Senior Research Associate, Institute for Security Studies; Rina Rosenberg, Esq., International Advocacy Director of Adalah/Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Haifa); John Reynolds, formerly researcher at Al-Haq (Ramallah) and now lecturer in international law and critical legal studies, National University of Ireland-Maynooth; Victor Kattan, Senior Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute and an Associate Fellow at the Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore; and Michael Kearney, now Senior Lecturer in Law at Sussex University (Great Britain).

The method was to review Israeli practices in accordance with the list of “inhuman acts” described in the Apartheid Convention. The team determined that Israel was practicing every act listed in the Convention except genocide and the ban on mixed marriages. Subsequently, Israel passed a law banning mixed marriages by people registered as having different religious identities. The revised version of the report published in 2012 was amended accordingly.

The list provided here is a summary of findings regarding those acts. Detailed empirical evidence, data and citations on each category are available in Beyond Occupation (chapter 4).

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58 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

Apartheid Convention, article II

(a) denialtoamemberormembersofaracialgrouporgroupsoftherighttolife and liberty of person:

  1. (i)  by murder of members of a racial group or groups;
  2. (ii)  by the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups ofserious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  3. (iii)  by arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;

Article II (a) is satisfied by Israeli measures serving to repress Palestinian dissent against the occupation and its system of domination. Israeli policies and practices include murder, in the form of targeted extrajudicial killings; torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees; a military court system that falls far short of international standards of due process, including fair trial; and arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinians, including administrative detention imposed, often for extended periods, without charge or trial and lacking adequate judicial review. All of those practices are discriminatory, in that Palestinians are subject to different legal systems and different courts, which apply different standards of evidence and procedure that result in far more severe penalties than those applied to Jewish Israelis.

(b) deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;

Article II (b) takes its language from the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide and is interpreted here as signifying a policy of genocide. Israeli policies and practices in the occupied Palestinian territory are not found to have the intent of causing the physical destruction of the Palestinian people in this sense. Israel pursues policies that are inimical to human health and life and so are serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law: they include policies that cause human suffering, such as closures imposed on the Gaza Strip, thereby depriving Palestinians of access to essential health care, medicine, fuel and adequate nutrition. However, those policies do not meet the threshold of a deliberate policy of mass physical extermination.

(c) any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;

Article II (c) is satisfied on all counts:

(ii)

(iii)

(iv)

(i)

Restrictions on the Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement are endemic, stemming from Israeli control of the occupied Palestinian territory border crossings, the wall in the West Bank, a matrix of checkpoints and separate roads, and obstructive and all-encompassing permit and ID systems.

The right of Palestinians to choose their own place of residence within their territory is severely curtailed by systematic administrative restrictions on residency and building in East Jerusalem, by discriminatory legislation that operates to prevent Palestinian spouses from living together on the basis of which part of the occupied Palestinian territory they originate from, and by the strictures of the permit and ID systems.
Palestinians are denied the right to leave and return to their country. Palestinian refugees living in the occupied Palestinian territory are not allowed to return to their homes inside Israel, while Palestinian refugees and involuntary exiles outside Israel and the territory are not allowed to return to their homes in either the territory or Israel. Similarly, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967 have been prevented from returning. Many Palestinian residents of the occupied territory must obtain Israeli permission (often denied) to leave it; political activists and human rights defenders are often subject to arbitrary and undefined “travel bans”, and many Palestinians who travelled abroad for business or personal reasons have had their residence IDs revoked and been prohibited from returning.
Israel denies Palestinian refugees living in the occupied Palestinian territory the right to a nationality, denying them citizenship of the State (Israel) that governs the land of their birth, and also obstructing the exercise by the Palestinians of the right to self-determination and preventing the formation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip.

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60 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

  1. (v)  Palestinians are denied the right to freedom and residence through the cantonization of the West Bank, which confines them to designated areas on the basis of race; through bans on their returning to homes in the occupied Palestinian territory from which they were displaced by fighting and terror; and through restrictions on building permits that prevent them from establishing homes where they wish to live.
  2. (vi)  Palestinians are restricted in their right to work through Israeli policies that severely curtail Palestinian agriculture and industry in the occupied Palestinian territory, restrict exports and imports, and impose pervasive obstacles to internal movement that impair access to agricultural land and travel for employment and business. Since the second intifada, access for Palestinians to work inside Israel, once significant, has been dramatically curtailed and is now negligible. The unemployment rate in the occupied Palestinian territory as a whole has reached almost 50 per cent.
  3. (vii)  Palestinian trade unions exist but are not recognized by the Israeli Government or by the Histadrut (the largest Israeli trade union) and cannot effectively represent Palestinians working for Israeli employers and businesses in the occupied Palestinian territory. Palestinian unions are not permitted to function at all in Israeli settlements. Although they are required to pay dues to the Histadrut, the interests and concerns of Palestinian workers are not represented by the Histadrut; nor do they have a voice in its policies.
  4. (viii)  Israel does not operate the school system in the occupied Palestinian territory, but severely impedes Palestinian access to education on a routine basis through extensive school closures; direct attacks on schools; severe restrictions on movement, including travel to schools; and the arrest and detention of teachers and students. The denial by Israel of exit permits, particularly for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, has prevented thousands of students from pursuing higher education abroad. Discrimination in education is further underlined by the parallel and greatly superior Jewish Israeli school system in Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank, to which Palestinians have no access.
  5. (ix)  Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are denied the right to freedom of opinion and expression through censorship laws enforced by the military authorities and endorsed by the Supreme Court. Palestinian newspapers must have a military permit and articles must be pre-approved by the military censor. Since 2001, the Israeli Government Press Office has drastically limited press accreditation for Palestinian journalists, who are also subjected to systematic harassment, detention and confiscation of materials, and in some cases assassination. The accreditation of foreign journalists working in the occupied territory may be revoked at the

discretion of the Government Press Office Director on security grounds, which include writing stories that are deemed to “delegitimize” the State.1 Foreign journalists are regularly barred from entering the Gaza Strip.

  1. (x)  The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association is impeded through military orders. Military legislation bans public gatherings of 10 or more persons without a permit from the Israeli military commander. Non- violent demonstrations are regularly suppressed by the Israeli army with live ammunition, tear gas and arrests. Most Palestinian political parties have been declared illegal and institutions associated with those parties, such as charities and cultural organisations, are regularly subjected to closure and attack.
  2. (xi)  The prevention of full development in the occupied Palestinian territory and participation of Palestinians in political, economic, social and cultural life is most starkly demonstrated by the effects of the ongoing Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

(d) any measures, including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;

Article II (d) is satisfied in the following ways:
(i) Israeli policies have divided the occupied Palestinian territory into a series

of non-contiguous enclaves (Areas A and B in the West Bank, as a whole separated from the Gaza Strip) in which Palestinians are allowed to live and maintain a degree of local autonomy. Land between those enclaves is reserved exclusively for Jewish and State use: the Jewish settlement grid, nature reserves, agro-industry, military zones and so forth. Land not already used is considered “State land” and administered by State institutions for the benefit of the Jewish people. Segregation of the populations is ensured by pass laws that restrict Palestinians from visiting Jewish areas without a permit and ban Jewish-Israeli travel into Palestinian zones. The wall and its infrastructure of gates and permanent and “floating” checkpoints enforce those restrictions.

1 “Cards will not be given under these rules to any applicant if the Director is of the opinion, after consultation with security authorities, that providing the Cards may endanger the State security”, article 3 (f), Rules regarding cards for foreign media journalists, press technicians and media assistants. Available from http://gpoeng.gov.il/media/54705/gpo-rules.pdf.

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62 | Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

  1. (ii)  Inter-faith marriages between Muslims or Christians with Jews are prohibited by law.2 No civil marriage exists in Israel except for the tiny minority whose faith is not declared. Mixed-faith couples must leave the State to marry. Mixed marriages conducted outside of Israel are recognized by the State, provided that marriages among Jews accord with Orthodox Jewish law.
  2. (iii)  Israel has extensively appropriated Palestinian land in the occupied Palestinian territory for exclusively Jewish use. Private Palestinian land comprises about 30 per cent of the land unlawfully appropriated for Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Approximately 40 per cent of the West Bank is completely closed to use by the Palestinians, and significant restrictions are placed on access by them to much of the rest.

(e) Exploitationofthelabourofthemembersofaracialgrouporgroups,in particular by submitting them to forced labour;

Article II (e) is today not significantly satisfied, as Israel has raised barriers to Palestinian employment inside Israel since the 1990s and Palestinian labour is now used extensively only in the construction and services sectors of Jewish-Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. Otherwise, exploitation of labour has been replaced by practices that fall under article II (c), regarding the denial of the right to work.

(f) Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.

Arrest, imprisonment, travel bans and the targeting of Palestinian parliamentarians, national political leaders and human rights defenders, as well as the closing down of related organisations by Israel, represent persecution for opposition to the system of Israeli domination in the occupied Palestinian territory, within the meaning of article II (f). Article II (f) is especially important in the occupied Palestinian territory, where “security” measures are focused on resistance to occupation.

2 The Israeli prohibition of mixed marriages is mainly concerned with marriages involving Jews. This is effected by requiring that all marriages be conducted by religious authorities. Since Muslim law permits mixed marriages, marriage between Muslims and Christians is not prohibited. The aim of this arrangement is clear: to avoid blurring the social divisions between Jews and non-Jews. Similarly, under apartheid in South Africa, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 banned marriages between “Europeans and non-Europeans” but not between non-Europeans and other non-Europeans.

Annex II

Which Country?

Israeli policies confuse the issue in relation to the categorization under the Apartheid Convention of all acts fitting the purpose clause and preventing “participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country” (article II (c)) as crimes of apartheid. The question is, from which “country” are Palestinians being denied equal rights and full participation? This question engages larger questions about the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself.

  1. The “country” from which Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are excluded could arguably be Mandate Palestine as established by the League of Nations. The League’s intention was for it to gain independence as a State representing the shared patrimony of the entire multi-sectarian population of Palestine. That model, overtaken by events, was confused from the start by language about a “Jewish national home” and in any case was rendered moot by war, expulsion and other events on the ground. However, exclusive Israeli control since 1967 over all of Mandate Palestine has preserved the original geographical unit of Palestine. Hence the “country” in which Palestinians are being deprived of rights could be the Palestine that was never allowed to form, and arguably should form. The remedy in that case is to restore the standing of the original Mandate, which holds that the region is properly one country that has wrongfully been divided by racial agendas.
  2. The country from which Palestinians are excluded could be the “Arab State” recommended by resolution 181(II), which also never formed. This view accepts as authoritative the findings of the Special Committee on Palestine in 1947 and as irreversible the events of the 1948 war, in which a “Jewish State” was formed in part of Mandate territory. What in more recent times has been declared the State of Palestine and sought recognition by the United Nations is a much reduced version of that “Arab State”. Israeli policies remain aimed at depriving such a State of the essential attributes of sovereignty; those policies would have to be reversed for this approach to generate a true State. Since Israel shows no indication of changing its position, the alternative is that a Palestinian State be granted some political rights as “reserves” enjoying local autonomy, comparable to the Bantustans of southern Africa or Native American reservations in the United States. Such an arrangement is unlikely to

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satisfy Palestinian aspirations for self-determination, however. It is more likely to lead ultimately to violence and insurrection by a terminally frustrated Palestinian population.

3. The “country” from which Palestinians are wrongfully deprived of equal rights may be the State of Israel. Accepting as irreversible the annexation measures of Israel in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, this approach would see Israel incorporating the occupied Palestinian territory fully into its governing institutions but dismantling the policies of racial oppression and domination that make Israel an apartheid State. Jews and Palestinians may, however, fear the consequences: enduring security perils for the former and enduring discrimination against the latter.

This report examines, based on key instruments of international law, whether Israel has established an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Having established that
the crime of apartheid has universal application, that the question of the status of the Palestinians as a people is settled in law, and that the crime of apartheid should be considered at the level of the State, the report sets out to demonstrate how Israel has imposed such a system on the Palestinians in order to maintain the domination of one racial group over others.

A history of war, annexation and expulsions, as well as a series of practices, has left the Palestinian people fragmented into four distinct population groups, three of them (citizens of Israel, residents of East Jerusalem and the populace under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza) living under direct Israeli rule and the remainder, refugees and involuntary exiles,

living beyond.This fragmentation, coupled with the application of discrete bodies of law to those groups, lie at the heart of the apartheid regime.They serve to enfeeble opposition to it and to veil its very existence.This report concludes, on the basis of overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, and urges swift action to oppose and end it.

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Zionism, Anti-Semitism, BDS, and the United Nations

8 Jun

 

 

[Prefatory Note: An earlier abridged version of this post was published by Middle East Eye under a different title on June 5, 2016. The focus is upon the misuse of anti-Semitism by those defending Israel to deflect a rising tide of civil society activism and public criticism of Israeli policies and practices.]

 

Zionism as Racism? Zionism and the State of Israel

 

More than 40 years ago the UN General Assembly adopted controversial resolution 3379 by a vote of 72-35 (with 32 abstentions), determining “that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” This resolution was bitterly opposed by Israel and its friends in 1975. According to Zionists and others this resolution was an unacceptable assault on the dignity of the Jewish people, a blatant expression of anti-Semitism, exhibiting hurtful insensitivity to the long dark shadow cast by horrific memories of the Holocaust.

 

The Israeli ambassador at the United Nations, Chaim Herzog, was unsparing in his denunciation: “For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value.” The American Ambassador, with a deserved reputation as an outspoken diplomat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was hardly less severe. In the debate preceding the vote Moynihan used exaggerated language of denunciation: “The UN is about to make anti-Semitism international law..The [US] does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act..a great evil has been loosed upon the world.”

 

Such harsh language was an effective tactical maneuver by Israel and the United States to mislead as to the purpose of the anti-Zionist resolution by waving the red flag of anti-Semitism. With a few notable exceptions, the governmental supporters of the initiative at the UN were never motivated by hatred of Jews, although the resolution was an unwise way to exhibit anger toward Israel because it was so susceptible to being discredited as unacceptable due to its anti-Semitic overtones. The primary backers of the resolution were seeking to call attention to the fact that Israel as a state was proceeding in a racist manner by its treatment of the indigenous Palestinian population. In fact, the focus on Zionism rather than Israel reflected a continuing commitment by the main representatives of the Palestinian people and their allies to accept, however reluctantly, the reality of Israel as a state, while rejecting certain of its policies and practices that were being attributed to the Zionist ideology that did shape Israel’s governing process.

 

The context of the resolution is also important. It came after a decade of international frustration concerning the refusal of Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian (and Syrian) territory occupied in the 1967 War in the manner prescribed in the unanimously passed iconic UN Security Resolution 242. By 1975 it seemed that Israel had no serious intention of ever withdrawing fully or soon. True, there were interpretative ambiguities surrounding the exact conditions of withdrawal, yet Israel’s expansion of the metropolitan area of Jerusalem together with its annexation combeined with the establishment of settlements in occupied Palestine was generally perceived in UN circles as confirming this suspicion that Israeli ambitions far exceeded the scope of what had been agreed upon in 1967 at the Security Council. Subsequent developments have only hardened the perception the belief that Israel will defy international law and UN authority whenever it suits their purposes.

 

Inappropriately and ineffectively, the anti-Zionist resolution was seeking to mobilize the international community in 1975 around the idea that Palestinian suffering and humiliation resulted from illegitimate Israeli behavior that would not be overcome by statecraft or UN diplomacy, both of which had been tried and failed. Over time this interpretation of the situation has given rise to a growing skepticism about whether any inter-government effort, including even that undertaken by the Palestinians themselves, will secure the Palestinian right of self-determination, as long as the balance of forces is so strongly in Israel’s favor. Against this background it is not surprising that the Palestinian struggle increasingly relies upon civil society militancy currently epitomized by the BDS Campaign to correct this imbalance.

 

Asserting its geopolitical muscle over the years Israel finally managed to induce the General Assembly to reverse itself in 1991 by Res. 46/86. This single sentence text simply revokes the earlier resolution condemning Israel without offering any explanation for the new posture. Israel secured this vote by making conditional its participation at the Madrid Peace Conference that same year, insisting on a formal repudiation of the 1975 resolution.

 

In retrospect, the General Assembly had made a serious mistake by equating Israel with Zionism. It should been earlier realized that Zionism is a political project devised by Jews in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century, and while responsible for the world movement that successfully established Israel against great odds, it does not represent the Jewish people as whole, nor is it an authoritative expression of Judaism whether conceived as a religion or an ethno-historic tradition. From the inception of Zionism, Jews as individuals held wildly divergent, even contradictory, views about the wisdom of Zionism in theory and practice as well as about the validity of its relations with Judaism. Zionism was never institutionalized as the governing ideology of the Israeli state, and many Jewish critics of Israel emphasized the failure of the state to live up to Zionist ideals and Judaic traditions.

 

Among the most fundamental of these disagreements related to whether Jews should aspire to a state of their own in Palestine, or should limit themselves to the Balfour pledge of support for a homeland in historic Palestine. The whole idea of an ethnic state is problematic given the geographic intermingling of ethnicities, and can be reconciled with the ideal of protecting the human rights of every individual only by artifice. In practice, an ethnic state, even if its activities are constitutionally constrained, dominates the governing space and discriminates against those with other ethnic identities. And so has been the case with Israel despite Palestinian voting rights and participation in the Knesset. Again, Zionism championed Israeli statehood as the fulfillment of the vision of a Jewish homeland, but the state that emerged is a political actor whose behavior needs to be appraised by its policies and practices, and not by its founding ideology.

 

Such general speculation raises somewhat different issues than posed by the anti-Zionist resolution. Now the much more difficult issue is raised in the form of allegations that Israel as of 2016 has become a racist or apartheid state, most clearly with respect to its oppressive and discriminatory administration of the West Bank and Gaza. To be clear, it is not Zionism as an ideology that should be evaluated as racist or not, despite its ethnic exclusivity, but Israel as a state subject to international law, including the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination(1966) and the International Convention on Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973).

 

BDS as Anti-Semitism?

 

At this time, complaints about anti-Semitism have taken an entirely different course, although emanating from a similar source. Instead of deflecting criticism at the UN by angry claims of institutional bias verging on anti-Semitism, Israel is now actually invoking the prestige of the UN to carry on its fight against the BDS Campaign and an alleged delegitimation project aimed at discrediting and isolating, if not destroying, the state of Israel. On May 31,, 2016 Israel convened a day-long conference under the willfully misleading title, “Ambassadors Against BDS—International Summit at the UN.” Invited speakers were limited to pro-Israeli extremists who took turns deploring BDS as a political initiative and denouncing its activist supporters as vicious anti-Semites. The Israeli ambassador, acting as convenor of the conference and known mainly as an inflammatory leader of the settlement movement, Dani Danon, set the tone of the event with these words: “BDS is the modern incarnation of anti-Semitism,” spreading an “..ideology of hate.”

 

The program was unabashedly one-sided. The conference sponsored by a series of leading Jewish organizations. The audience consisted of more than 1500 invited guests who possessed strong anti-BDS credentials and were encouraged to be militant in their opposition to BDS activities. The conference call relied on language that highlights the political significance of this extraordinary initiative: “The BDS movement continues to make strides in their campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel. They are gaining increased support on campuses around the world as they promote initiatives on local and national levels calling to divest and boycott the Jewish state.” Such a statement accurately recognizes that BDS has become the main vehicle of a rapidly strengthening global solidarity movement that aligns itself with the Palestinian national movement, is effectively mobilizing beneath the BDS banner, and has been shaped since its inception in 2005 when endorsed by 170 Palestinian NGOs and a wide spectrum of civil society activists.

 

It should be clarified that the so-called anti-BDS ‘summit,’ appearances not withstanding, was not a UN conference, nor did it have the blessings or participation of top UN officials. It was an event organized by the Israeli delegation at the UN that was allowed to make use of UN facilities. Calling itself ‘Ambassadors Against BDS” is deceptive, suggesting some kind of collective diplomatic undertaking by the international community or at least its Western segment.

 

Contrariwise, and more to the point, several European governments normally supportive of Israel, including Sweden, Ireland, and even the Netherlands have recently officially indicated that support for BDS is a legitimate political activity, entitled to the protection of law in a democratic state, and its supporters should be treated as exercising their right to freedom of expression in a lawful manner.

 

The BDS goals are set forth clearly in its founding document and do not include the delegitimation of Israel as a state: (1) withdrawal of Israel forces from Arab territories occupied in 19 67, including the Syrian Golan Heights as well as West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza; (2) respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 194; (3) protection of the human rights of Palestinians living in pre-1967 Israel on the basis of full equality. Without question the BDS movement endorses an ambitious program, but it does not question Israeli sovereignty over pre-1967 Israel, despite its territorial control of 78% of the Palestine mandate, which is far more than what the UN considered fair in 1947 that was about 45%, and was rejected by the Palestinians as being grossly unfair given the demographics at the time.

 

 

In a growing reaction to the growing influuence of BDS, Israel and pro-Israeli civil society actors have been pushing back in a variety of settings with tactics that violate the written and unwritten rules of democratic society. Among those most salient of these tactics have been the successful efforts of the organized Jewish community in Britain to have an academic conference at Southampton University canceled for two consecutive years, the frantic defamatory assault on Penny Green, the distinguished British criminalist who had been proposed as the first choice to be the next UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Occupied Palestine, a travel ban imposed by Israel on Omar Barghouti, the widely admired worldwide leader of BDS, and sundry outrageous efforts throughout the United States to have as many state legislatures as possible pass laws that criminalize BDS by associating its advocacy and activity with anti-Semitism.

 

Above all, this ugly effort to stigmatize BDS represents a double shift in the essential battlefield of the Israel/Palestine struggle. The first shift is from armed struggle to a series of symbolic encounters concerning the legitimacy of Israel’s policies and practices. The second interrelated shift is away from inter-governmental diplomacy and toward civil society militancy. It is possible that the second shift is temporary or provisional, having as its objective the revival of normal diplomacy at a future time under conditions where both sides are treated equally, and the process facilitated by a genuinely neutral intermediary. In effect, an authentic peace process in the future must correct the flaws that doomed the diplomacy undertaken within the Oslo Framework of Principles to failure, and what is worse operated to enable a steady dynamic of Israeli expansionism at Palestinian expense. One way of thinking of BDS is as a corrective to this failed diplomacy of the past.

In the meantime, both Israel and its civil society adversaries will reflect their contradictory agendas with respect to a variety of struggles centering on what is legitimate.

 

In important respects the double shift should be welcomed. The BDS Campaign concentrates on university campuses, churches, and labor unions. To challenge the legality and propriety of its tactics is to attack the most fundamental values of constitutional democracy. BDS-bashing also lends indirect credibility to those who argue that only political violence can achieve justice for the Palestinian people that alone can end their unspeakable ordeal. It is reasonable, of course, to question whether BDS is effective, or to argue over its proper scope and tactics, but attacks on BDS as a valid political instrument should be rejected.

 

Comparing Anit-Zionism in 1975 and Anti-BDS in 2016

 

This deadly dance between Zionism and the UN has now come full circle. In the 1970s Zionism was condemned by the General Assemly at the UN, and the condemnation was sharply criticized by Israel as being so anti-Semitic as to contaminate the Organization as a whole. In 2016 Israel in a dramatic turnabout relies on the stature and access associated with its UN membership to empower Zionist forces throughout the world to engage in BDS-bashing. In the end, we should appreciate that neither Zionism nor BDS are racist as such, and any serious inquiry should be directed at the behavior of Israel as a member of the UN obliged to respect international law with respect to race and on the actual claims and initiatives of BDS as a transnational civil society initiative seeking the implementation of international law and fundamental human rights.

 

It was a mistake to play the anti-Zionist card in 1975 as the real grievances of Palestinians and the UN were obscured behind the smokescreen of a false debate about whether or not deep criticisms of Israel were anti-Semitic. It is an even bigger mistake to play the anti-Semitic card in the current global setting as a way of evading the demands set forth by BDS, which seem on their face in accord with international law and morality, and have as a principal virtue the clear commitment to pursue political ends by peaceful means.

 

The scale of this mistake is enlarged by blurring the boundaries between a proper concern with anti-Semitism as a virulent form of ethnic hatred that has given rise in the past to bloody persecutions and fascist extremism, and most abhorrently to the Holocaust. Opposing BDS on its pragmatic or normative merits is an entirely reasonable posture for those who disagree with its premises, methods, and goals. What is not acceptable is to engage in these provocative efforts to discredit and punish the proponents of BDS, and to threaten adherents with punitive pushback as happens when tenure is abrogated or steps are taken to brand activists by name as targets for vilification and intimidation.

 

 

The Semantics of Struggle

9 May

Words Against the Grain

 

While reporting to the UN on Israel’s violation of basic Palestinian rights I became keenly aware of how official language is used to hide inconvenient truths. Language is a tool used by the powerful to keep unpleasant realities confined to shadow lands of incomprehension.

 

Determined to use the rather modest flashlight at my disposal to illuminate the realities of the Palestinian ordeal as best I could, meant replacing words that obscure ugly realities with words that expose as awkward truths often as possible. My best opportunity to do this was in my annual reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the General Assembly in New York. My courageous predecessor as Special Rapporteur, John Dugard, deserves credit for setting the stage, effectively challenging UN complacency with language that looked at the realities lurking below the oily euphemisms that diplomat seem so fond of.

 

Of course, I paid a price for such a posture as did Dugard before me. Your name is added to various black lists, and doors once open are quietly closed, if not slammed shut. If the words used touched enough raw nerves, you become a target of invective and epithets. In my case, my temporary visibility as UN Special Rapporteur meant being called ‘an anti-Semite,’ even ‘a notorious anti-Semite,’ and on occasion ‘a self-hating Jew.’ Strong Zionist pressures are now seeking to induce legislative bodies in the United States to brand advocacy of BDS or harsh criticism of Israel as prohibited forms of ‘hate speech.’ In April of this year pressures  by the British Jewish Board of Deputies led the University of Southampton to cancel a major academic conference on the Israel/Palestine conflict.

 

In relation to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the clarifying/some of the offending words are ‘apartheid,’ ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘settler colonialism,’ ‘annexation,’ ‘crimes against humanity,’ and ‘genocide.’ The UN evades such invasions of light by speaking of Israeli ‘occupation’ (as if a static reality without history) and without challenging certain strong normative tendencies, including the criminalization of apartheid and ethnic cleansing, the delegitimation of colonialism, and the unlawfulness of annexation (as in Jerusalem by legal diktat and the West Bank by the de facto settlement phenomenon).

 

It was my experience that using words that connect the realities with the norms changes the discourse that is used by some of those at the UN and in the media, especially among those who seek genuinely to understand the significance of what is actually happening. Right language encourages right action. What is right language follows from how convincingly the word links to the reality being pointed to, and whether ideological obstacles can be overcome. The weakness of Israel’s position from the perspective of controversy is being expressed by their avoidance of substantive debate, for instance, challenging the labeling of occupation as apartheid, and recourse instead to character assassination of those who dared to connect these dots.

 

I feel that Israel is losing this struggle to obscure the true nature of their activities, and its devastating effects on Palestinian lives and rights. Whether this will mean that Israel will alter its policies is far less clear, and certainly not assured, and the outcome of the 2015 Israeli elections and formation of the new coalition government would suggest that the most extremist Israeli government ever has been installed under the leadership of Netanyahu and the Likud Party.

 

Nothing should be more shocking to Western liberal sensibilities than the appointment of Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home Party as the Minister of Justice in Netanyahu’s newly formed coalition government. Ms. Shaked, while being a member of the Knesset, became globally notorious as a result of her post sent around during the Israeli attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014 in which she called the entire Palestinian population the “enemy” that “should be destroyed.” Leaving no room doubt she went on to say that even that even “its elderly and and its women” should not be spared, and that the killing of Palestinian mothers is justified because they give birth “to little snakes.” Ali Abunimah asks rhetorically, “If Shaked’s post does not meet the legal definition of genocide then nothing does.” What is as shocking as these sentiments of Shaked is the silence of the Western media and leaders in the face of such an appointment in the only democracy in the region. Imagine the self-righteous angry posturing from liberals in the West if Hamas dared to select such a personality from their ranks to serve as the Minister of Justice. As it is the Hamas Covenant is invoked to confirm genocidal sentiments although subsequent behavior and political initiatives have moved in a far more accommodating direction. What is at stake is the discriminatory manner of either noticing or not noticing the elevation of adherents of ‘genocide’ to the pinnacles of state power. This two-way approach to language is fully displayed in the political discourse surrounding the Israel/Palestine conflict. And closer to home, compare Ayelet’s selection as Minister of Justice after her offensive tweet with the University of Illinois’ breach of Steven Salaita’s contract to become a tenured professor in reaction to his tweets expressing his outrage about Israel’s 51 day criminal assault on Gaza last summer. It conveys a lively sense of the extremity to which double standards are carried when it comes to Israeli behavior. 

 

There is another set of intense struggles around language that arise when a single word is insisted upon because of its emotive value, and possibly its legal ramifications. I am referring to the unconditional insistence of the Armenian diaspora that the catastrophic events that climaxed in the 1915 massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians should be acknowledged as ‘genocide’ by Turkey in the form of an official apology by the government and its leaders. The Armenian insistence stems from several motivations, it seems. Above all, the fact that once ‘genocide’ is admitted, then the link to ultimate evil is established beyond controversy, the Armenian narrative is validated beyond controversy, descendants of victims are granted a kind of clisure, and what happened to the Armenians is implicitly equated with what later happened to the Jews as a result of Naziism. It is psychologically important to prevail with respect to how these events are described so as to alleviate the pain endured over the years by the Armenian people because of what they have experienced as ‘genocide denial’ on the part of Turkey.

 

Turkey’s response to the Armenian allegations has evolved over the years, but it remains somewhat edgy. The 2014 statement of Erdogan seemed to accept the Armenian narrative to the extent of acknowledging the massacres and wrongdoings of 1915, while stopping well short of using the G-word. A few weeks ago, Prior to the centenary of April 24, Pope Francis brought his moral authority to bear by describing in a solemn mass as ‘genocide’ what happened to the Armenian people, and called upon Turkey to recognize these events for what they were. In reaction, Erdogan and other Turkish leaders stepped back, declaring that the issue of what happened in 1915 has not yet been sufficiently resolved by historians to justify attaching the word ‘genocide’ to this horrific set of events, that wrongdoing was not as one-sided as Armenians claim, and that the pope stepped out of line by issuing such an ill-informed and partisan statement concerning historical events that are complex and contested. 

 

Taking a different tack than that of Pope Francis, Barack Obama angered Armenians (even more than the pope angered Turks) by refusing to include the word ‘genocide’ in his centenary message to the Armenian people, instead using the Armenian descriptive Meds Yegham (the great calamity). Obama added that the 1915 events constituted a ‘massacre,’ produced ‘a terrible carnage,’ and were ‘a dark chapter of history.’ It seemed meant to be a strong statement of solidarity with the Armenian campaign, omitting only the word ‘genocide,’ but this omission was all that was needed to turn this expression of solidarity with the Armenian call for redress of grievances into an anti-Armenian statement that was unwelcome because it refused to show its support for all that now mattered to the Armenians, namely, that their victimization be regarded as ‘genocide’ beyond any doubt. For this goal to be reached, the endorsement by the U.S. Government is deemed to be necessary, and hence the Obama formulation fell decisively short.  No denunciation of the 1915 events that did not adopt the descriptive label of genocide was acceptable for the aggrieved and mobilized Armenian diaspora. This semantic hard line shows how much meaning can be invested in whether or not a particular word is used.

 

In response to Obama, representatives of the organized Armenian diaspora expressed their disappointment in harsh language, going so far as to say it would have been better if Obama had said nothing at all. They called ‘disgraceful’ his refusal to live up to a 2008 campaign pledge that if elected president he would identify the events of 1915 as genocide. Obama’s apparent justification for this semantic retreat is that as the head of state his primary obligation is to care for the strategic interests of the country, and Turkey as a NATO ally was too important to antagonize over such an issue. But my point here is to take account of the power of the word, as well as to notice that the language functions differently in private and public domains. To refer to 1915 as Meds Yegham is a strong affirmation of the Armenian narrative. By comparison, if Obama were to describe the dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948 as the nakba, there would be dancing in the streets of Ramallah and Gaza City. Such a designation, if ever used by an American president, would be correctly viewed as a mighty slap in Israel’s face and a great symbolic victory for the Palestinians. The point here is that the Armenians have been able to raise the threshold of semantic redress to the very highest level by this insistence on genocide, and accompanying sentiment that nothing else will be acceptable, while the Palestinians have yet to receive even a formal acknowledgement that they were victims of a calamity in the less incendiary terminology of Arabic, much less that of genocide or ethnic cleansing.

 

What are we to make of this bitter fight about the words used to describe a series of events that happened 100 years ago? First, and most obviously, words matter, and are made to matter deeply by political actors, especially when the purpose is to challenge conventional wisdom. Some words achieve a charismatic stature, and none more than genocide. [As an aside, I was never more attacked by Zionist activists and the mainstream media than when in 2007 I referred in a newspaper article to Israel’s policies of punitive siege imposed on the entire civilian population of Gaza as ‘genocidal’ (not ‘genocide’) in its intent and effect, a contention given governmental endorsement by Shaked’s appointment, but still manages to slip under the radar of Western moral and political sensibilities.

 

Secondly, the alleged Turkish reason for its objection to genocide is based on the factual contention that historical realities of 1915 remain contested, and can only be resolved by an international commission composed of historians enjoying unrestricted archival access. The Armenians summarily reject such an approach as proof of Turkish bad faith, insisting that there already exists an authoritative international consensus supportive of their claim of genocide due to the establishment of systematic, one-sided, deliberate massive slaughter designed to eliminate the Armenian presence in Turkey. Thirdly, the American position is aligned with the Armenians on the facts, but with the Turks on the appropriate language at governmental levels, which seems the weakest of all rationalizations for evading the charge of genocide. Fourthly, if the search is for a way to resolve the conflict, the Armenian tactic of invoking foreign governments and moral authority figures such as the pope, is dysfunctional although it does provide strong moral support for the campaign. If, on the contrary, the mobilization of support is primarily intended to generate a heightened collective memory of victimization among Armenians, then soliciting these external expressions of solidarity from leading moral authority figures is of great value.

 

I find my own view trapped midway between the positions put forward by Pope Francis and President Erdogan. On the facts, although as Turkey argues the events occurred in wartime with the Armenians acting as adversaries and sometimes engaged in violence against Turks, still the basic character of the events  certainly seemed to be genocidal in character, with entire Armenian communities being forced to make death marches. As a lawyer, however, I would refrain from using the label genocide as there was no crime of genocide in 1915, and criminal law can never properly have a retroactive application. As I have pointed out before, even the London Agreement of 1945 setting up the Nuremberg Tribunal to assess Nazi crimes did not include ‘genocide’ among the international crimes that could be charged even though the word genocide had been coined by Rafael Lemkin in 1944, or before.

 

Yet is it not appropriate in view of the consensus on the facts, to recognize the links to catastrophes that have been definitively called genocide by affixing the term to the onslaught against Armenians planned and executed by ‘the young Turks’ acting under Ottoman authority? Surely no sane person objects to categorizing the Holocaust as ‘genocide’ even though the death camps were established and the final solution occurred before the Genocide Convention of 1950, and was long underway before Raphael Lemkin had invented the word. Thinking along this line, and acknowledging that the crime of genocide had yet to be established, it would seem that it is politically, morally, and therapeutically correct to describe the 1915 tragic ordeal of the Armenian people as genocide, but legally irresponsible to do. In this gap between semantic contexts there seems room for a conflict resolving compromise. Yet the distinction drawn may seem obscure, and somewhat academic, unlikely in the end to be attractive for either side in the controversy.

 

How, then, can such an encounter over the word be resolved? It seems doubtful that Turkey will back down without some face saving ritual, and it is virtually certain that the Armenian diaspora having raised the temperature surrounding this single word to such a fever pitch will be content with anything less than a full fledged Turkish capitulation. The Armenian campaign will certainly continue to refuse to risk an ambiguous outcome arising from convening the sort of historical inquiry that Turkey proposes as the necessary next step in resolving the controversy. It doesn’t require much sophistication to conclude that the parties are stuck and likely to remain so for a long time.

 

This is a pity. Both sides would have much to gain by finding a way forward. It is quite likely that if the word issue was finessed, Turkey would be relieved, and go out of its way to preserve a vibrant memory of the events through such initiatives as a national museum, agreeing to a commemorative day, and hosting a variety of Armenian cultural events. If the Turkish leadership could persuade itself that the historical issue is substantially settled, and what matters is the present relationship, maybe then it could issue the kind of statement the Armenian people so fervently seek, and a mutually beneficial future could likely unfold. Both sides need to look in the mirror sufficiently to realize that more is at stake then fidelity to their fixed position for and against the use of the word genocide. Yet, the way in which psycho-political works, it is likely that the wait for such a sensible breakthrough to happen will be long. The burden of magnanimity is on the Turkish side, the stronger party and with less at stake concerning national identity.

 

Before concluding, I would mention another word that is obstructing reason and decency in the national and global political realm. It is ‘terrorism,’ used to demonize the grievances and the tactics of the adversary, and in mainstream discourse preempted by governments and their media apologists to create an unbridgeable moral distance between themselves and a political challenge.

“We refuse to negotiate with terrorists” is the rationale for keeping a hot war going. We should also notice that the language of terrorism is racialized. If the incident involves a white American, there is a tacit turn toward focusing on his mental condition and sociopathic sensibility, but if the suspect is Islamic a frantic search is undertaken to link the acts of violence with either jihadist groups or to trace its source to the Koran.

 

There are efforts to offset equalize word play. For instance, critics of hegemonic semantics introduce the phrase ‘state terror,’ to designate violence by state entities against their non-state enemies. This rejects the attempt by governments to immunize their own violence from censure, while branding the violence of their adversary as morally and legally prohibited because it is terror

 

We know that the accusatory language of terrorism is in the toolkit of governmental policymaking, and can be dropped when convenient. When a political actor is ready to negotiate, adherents of the former enemy are no longer described as ‘terrorists.’ Think how effortlessly the former leaders of the IRA, ANC, or even the PLO were seated at diplomatic dinner tables when the right moment arrived! Yet until the appointed hour, relying on the terminology of terrorism is the equivalent of a hunting license that can be used as a rationale for torture, disproportionate force, civilian casualties, extraordinary rendition, drone strikes, and special ops wherever, whenever without regard to constraints of law or morality.

 

Public reason in democratic society would greatly benefit from a renunciation of terrorism as a respectable term of art. Instead, the focus could be placed on what to do in effective and humane ways to sustain security and safeguard just political orders. In effect, to forego the temptation to call the enemy ‘a terrorist’ the path would be clear to talk as well as fight, and to resist the absurd dichotomy that we are totally ‘good’ and the adversary is totally ‘evil.’

 

But what if the insurgent challenge is demonizing the established order by contending that it is decadent, corrupt, and oppressive? Is it not reasonable if such a critique jumps the barriers of law, and mobilizes for violent struggle, to respond? Of course it is not only reasonable, but morally and politically imperative to respond as persuasively as possible, and to uphold the security of what is deemed legitimate societal arrangements. What is not helpful, actually diversionary, is to respond as if the struggle was between good and evil, and that is what happens as soon as the insurgent challenger is labeled

‘a terrorist.’ Such language exempts the defenders of the status quo from self-criticism and considering accommodationist tactics, proscribing negotiation and assessment of grievances. The response to ‘terrorists’ is war talk, rendering peace talk as irrelevant of worse.

 

Shall we also abandon the label of ‘state terror’ for crimes of the state associated with violence directed toward the innocent? Yes, as part of a wider semantic contract to banish ‘terrorism’ from the lexicon of political discourse. Yet, not unilaterally, as under existing conditions ‘state terror’ at least creates some understanding that it is the manner of deploying violence that should be repudiated rather than the blackening of insurgent reputation. As terrorism is used on behalf of the state, even violence carefully directed at state structures and their human instrumentalities are called ‘terrorists.’ In any event, state terror calls attention to policies and practices, and does not purport to demonize the state itself, leaving open possibilities of diplomacy and reconciliation.

 

At the very least, it would be a salutary move to call for a moratorium on the use of the word ‘terrorist’ from this day forward. And as with the fierce ideological struggles over ‘genocide’ it is best to know when to be provocative so as to expose suppressed realities and when to be pacifying so as to calm the atmosphere raising hopes for compromise and a shift of energies in the direction of nonviolent struggle.