Few labels are capable of causing arduous and fierce controversy within the framework of Israeli or universal Jewish society as is cataloging the social and political order imposed in Israel as Apartheid. A good example emerged recently as a result of the latest media campaign by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights defense organization whose main activity is focused on denouncing what it considers to be abuses by the Israeli army against the Palestinian population in the occupied territories.
In a broad and orchestrated operation in local and international media, on this occasion the organization accused that, “The entire area Israel controls between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is governed by a single regime working to advance and perpetuate the supremacy of one group over another. By geographically, demographically and physically engineering space, the regime enables Jews to live in a contiguous area with full rights, including self-determination, while Palestinians live in separate units and enjoy fewer rights. This qualifies as an apartheid regime, although Israel is commonly viewed as a democracy upholding a temporary occupation.” (B’Tselem website).
Faced with the possibility that Hagai Elad, general director of B’Tselem, will give a lecture to students of a secondary school in Haifa, Yoav Galant, Israel’s Minister of Education and a retired army general, ordered the ban on such an act days ago. To this purpose, he detailed his position with the following words: “the prohibition of entry to schools is directed at organizations that operate in contradiction to the objectives of official education, especially the fact of labeling Israel with false offenses or expressions against the Jewish, Zionist and democratic State of Israel. We will not allow the entry into schools of organizations that classify the State of Israel as the “Apartheid State” (“Galant ordered the cancellation of the lecture by the director of B’Tselem”, Walla, 1-17-21).
If analyzed objectively, neither of them can justify that he is the owner of the truth, the whole truth and the only truth. The affirmations of both have certain truthful aspects and others that are far from reality. In order to confront the assertions of Elad and Galant with reality, we must use three basic definitions: egalitarian democracy, discriminatory democracy and Apartheid.
Egalitarian democracy: It would be very logical to refer to an egalitarian democracy if we adhere to the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence of Israel. “The State of Israel will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants, it will be based on the principles of freedom, justice and peace, and will ensure the complete equality of political and social rights of all its inhabitants without difference of creed, race. or sex”.
Discriminatory democracy: It is a state with a legal system of an egalitarian democracy, but in its materialization, many acts of segregation of different population sectors are repeatedly committed. The order of priorities in the daily actions necessarily leaves aside permanently sectors that marginalize and put into question that label of egalitarian democracy.
Apartheid: We speak of a state that imposes on a certain territory a basic legal order that differentiates rights and obligations according to the ethnic belonging of groups of its inhabitants and whose objective is the maximum separation between the ethnic group that maintains supremacy and the dominated one.
Israel is a democracy in the territory recognized as an international boundary until the 1967 war and on the Golan Heights. It is a democracy and not an Apartheid order since all its inhabitants are subject to the same rights and obligations, although it is not equal and discriminatory as different strata are permanently segregated. The most significant case and in view of all is the discrimination of the Israeli Arab population. The distribution of budgets, support for the construction of new population centers, transportation routes, education, sources of work, etc., are nothing more than a long list of expressions of the delay in the development of the living conditions of the Israeli Arab population as consequence of the policies of the various Israeli governments. Netanyahu himself, now flirting to fish for a bit of votes in this population, recognized the urgent need to correct a long history of deep and prolonged neglect.
But neither should we ignore the segregation among Jews that is expressed in the treatment received by certain minority sectors such as immigrants from Ethiopians, Russians or the contradictions between large developed urban centers and those peripheral.
Israel not only dominates the territory where it can be classified as democracy, but also the West Bank. In East Jerusalem it established Israeli sovereignty and, in the rest, different levels of military dominance. The coexistence in this territory of a native population under military regime together with a huge project of Jewish civil colonization gave rise to the emergence of a legal order that mostly meets the basic definition of Apartheid.
Days ago, a severe incident occurred that exposes in all its harshness the Apartheid order that characterizes this region. During a violent demonstration by Jewish settlers in an area of the West Bank, one of the protesters punched the head of an elite unit of the Israeli army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. If the attacker had been a Palestinian, as repeatedly happens in similar situations, surely the attacker would have ended up with a couple of bullets to the head and the Israeli officer decorated and praised for his bravery. But he was a Jew who was the aggressor. How did he end up? The poor officer had no choice but to detain the attacker, wait for the police to come and file a complaint that will surely end in nothing (“The head of the Golani unit was attacked next to Kdumim”, Maariv, 10-1- 21). The officer’s future promotion will most likely be shelved.
Why such a situation. To the fact that, in the territory of the West Bank under Israeli rule, Palestinians are under military law, while Jews living in the same territory permanently have laws that free them from the military order and allow them to protect themselves under Israeli civil rule. One legal order for Jews and another for Palestinians.
A much more absurd situation exists in East Jerusalem. Despite being territory under Israeli sovereignty, more than 300,000 native Palestinians do not have the right to vote despite being considered part of the Israeli population. Of course, Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, like all Jews, have their right to vote in Israel.
Conclusion: Israel is only a democracy within the limits until 1967 and in the Golan, but not an egalitarian democracy, a democracy that discriminates. In the territory of the West Bank, and only in that territory, as a consequence of the Jewish civil colonization, Israel imposes an Apartheid order.
Warning: The recent Jewish Nation-State law can very easily turn the entire State of Israel into an Apartheid State if they give rise to many initiatives that want to turn it into support of regulations that justify discrimination against the non-Jewish Israeli population.
Herzlya – Israel 25-1-2021