Letters to the Editor

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ISRAEL: Policies do qualify as apartheid

Letter by Sallie Shawl, Lakebay on Jan. 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm with No Comments »
January 7, 2013 10:16 am

Re: “Nation held to a different standard” (letter, 1-4).

When in Israel/Palestine in 2010, I took a video of graffiti on what Israelis call the Separation Wall and what Palestinians call the Apartheid Wall. The “graffiti” is a letter to the Palestinian people from a South African theologian, comparing the South African and Palestinian experience. (See “Esack letter” on YouTube)

As a American Jew, it was really difficult to see institutions in Israel that most Americans would consider apartheid: Jewish-only roads, Jewish-only buses, Israeli settlers walking around openly carrying guns in the West Bank (illegal for Palestinians), ID cards required whenever out of the house, military personnel in uniforms deciding arbitrarily who gets through a checkpoint with absolutely no predictability or concern for medical emergencies.

“Arbitrary” and “unpredictable” are the guiding principles that make a normal life impossible. Palestinians say “just staying is resistance.”

Yes, there are Israeli Arabs in the Knesset (and on the federal bench), but they are tokens compared to treatment of the vast majority. Also, how Palestinians in Israel vs. the West Bank/Gaza are treated differs significantly.

According to the International Criminal Court, “‘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.” The U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination says racial discrimination is “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin.”


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