There is a growing international consensus that Israel is an apartheid state. The Israeli human rights organisation Btselem produced on 12 January 2021 a report setting out clearly how Israel is properly described as an apartheid state ‘from the river to the sea’. Read their report HERE. Evidence pointing in the same direction has been gathered by the international organisation Human Rights Watch whose report, entitled A Threshold Crossed, can be found HERE.
THE AMNESTY REPORT
Amnesty International on 1 February 2022 released a report Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians – cruel system of domination and crime against humanity. The lengthy full report is HERE, there is a 15-minute youtube summary HERE and a 90-minute online course is available free from Amnesty HERE. “Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights,” Amnesty’s secretary general, Agnès Callamard, said while introducing the report, “Israel’s cruel policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion across all territories under its control clearly amount to apartheid.”
REACTIONS TO THE AMNESTY REPORT
The Amnesty report was welcomed by a host of Israeli human rights groups whose statement is HERE. A review in the Electronic Intifada online explains how the report breaks some new ground and is HERE. A further report was published at the end of February from the human rights organisation Addameer (in conjunction with the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School) and can be read HERE. A 22-minute documentary from Mondoweiss can be found HERE.
The European Commission took its time before commenting on the Amnesty report. On 20 January 2023, eleven months after its publication, the Commission dismissed the report with these words: “The Commission is aware of the report referred to by the Honourable Members and is giving it due attention. In any case, the Commission considers that it is not appropriate to use the term apartheid in connection with the State of Israel. The Commission uses the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA definition) as a practical guidance tool and a basis for its work to combat antisemitism. Claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour is amongst the illustrative examples included under the IHRA definition. The EU and its Member States will continue to closely monitor the developments on the ground. The respect of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by state and non-state actors, and accountability for violations committed, are a cornerstone for peace and security in the Middle East region. The EU remains committed to a negotiated two-State solution, based on international law, the 1967 lines, with equivalent land swaps, as may be agreed between the parties, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition.”
A large consortium of Palestinian organisations has countered the European Commission with a lengthy statement that can be found HERE: “Many of the most pre-eminent scholars of Jewish life, history and persecution have warned that the struggle against antisemitism in the world is being weakened by the unbearable, inaccurate and instrumentalised use to which the antisemitism accusation is lodged for political ends.”
THE REACTION IN BRITAIN
As for the reaction to the Amnesty report in Britain, for weeks there was complete silence from all the main British political parties. The Labour Party commented that ‘This is a detailed report that we will consider carefully’ but there was no reaction until eventually in April 2022 Labour leader Keir Starmer gave an interview saying he did not agree with the Amnesty report. He did not say why. He was roundly criticised in THIS ARTICLE. There was no Parliamentary Early Day Motion on the subject. On 18 July 2022 an online briefing was hosted by Arise and ‘Labour & Palestine’: watch it HERE (and note the contributions from Liverpool’s Kim Johnson MP at 8min 30sec and the Palestinian Ambassador at 29min 45sec).
Specifically on Gaza, Al-Haq in January 2022 produced a report Cultural Apartheid – Israel’s cultural erasure in Gaza, which you can find and download HERE. The report includes material from Forensic Architecture.
On 25 March 2022 the United Nations Human Rights Council heard from Michael Lynk, its outgoing ‘special rapporteur’ who concluded that the political system of entrenched rule in the occupied Palestinian territory ‘satisfied the prevailing evidentiary standard for the existence of apartheid’. First, an institutionalised regime of systematic racial oppression and discrimination has been established. Second, this system of alien rule had been established with the intent to maintain the domination of one racial-national-ethnic group over another. And third, the imposition of this system of institutionalised discrimination with the intent of permanent domination had been built upon the regular practice of inhuman(e) acts. This was apartheid. With the eyes of the international community wide open, Israel had imposed upon Palestine an apartheid reality in a post-apartheid world. The tabled report for the meeting is HERE (it is report A/HRC/49/25).
Israel and supporters have railed against Amnesty International and threatened to downgrade Amnesty’s status in Israel. But as if to make the case, the Israeli parliament has in March 2022 passed a law reinstating the ban on Palestinians married to Israeli citizens from getting residence in Israel (read about it HERE and HERE).
Al-Haq produced a further report in November 2022 that was endorsed by several other organisations; you can find it HERE. Al-Haq have also in 2023 produced a 9-minute film setting out the history, watch it HERE.
The Anglican Church’s South African committee passed THIS RESOLUTION on 27 September 2023,,noting that Israel is regarded as an apartheid state and giving some guidance on how pilgrimages to the Holy Land should be conducted.