Thursday, March 25, 2010

Look away, there's no apartheid here

In the steadily growing media debate around Israeli apartheid, a common theme arises: apartheid might exist in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, but certainly not within democratic Israel. An increasing range of commentators--Henry Siegman, Robert Wright, and even Israeli officials such as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak--have hinted that increasing settlement expansion and Israeli military control over the Occupied Palestinian Territories will "lead to" or "eventually result in" or "is increasingly reminiscent of" apartheid. Even Ali Abunimah, writing at, tied apartheid to Israeli settlement expansion. On the other side of the debate are those, like Richard Cohen, who vehemently oppose the use of the term "apartheid" to describe Israel's violations of international law and Palestinian human rights. There's no doubt that--contrary to what Cohen might say--Israeli policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, from settlement expansion to extrajudicial assassination to the detention without charge of Palestinian activists, constitutes a violation of the UN Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. What is often ignored, however, is the structural discrimination and racism practiced against Palestinian Arabs within the state of Israel. Don't believe me? Here's a powerful video from Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. Entitled "Targeted Citizen," and featuring Palestinian hip hop trio DAM and comic duo Shammas-Nahas in addition to a group of experts on legal, political, social, and economic discrimination within Israel, the 15-minute film captures what it means to be an Arab citizen of "the only democracy in the Middle East"--to be "physically present, with rights absent" in a country that grants "constant legal presences" to those who are physically absent:

Targeted Citizen - English from Adalah on Vimeo.

At the US Campaign, we stand for equality for all. Racism and apartheid need to be opposed wherever they are found. Check out resources on our website for standing against apartheid, and take action in your community for justice and equality.