Archive for March, 2011

WE HEAR THE CRY OF OUR CHILDREN – kairos palestine

We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, hear the cry of hope that our children have launched in these difficult times that we still experience in this Holy Land. We support them and stand by them in their faith, their hope, their love and their vision for the future.

We also support the call to all our faithful as well as to the Israeli and Palestinian Leaders, to the International Community and to the World Churches, in order to accelerate the achievement of justice, peace and reconciliation in this Holy Land . We ask God to bless all our children by giving them more power in order to contribute effectively in establishing and developing their community, while making it a community of love, trust, justice and peace.
His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox
His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Church
His Beatitude Patriarch Torkom Manougian, Armenian Orthodox
Very Revd Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custody of the Holy Land
H.E. Archbishop Dr Anba Abraham, Coptic
H.E. Archbishop Mar Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox
H.E. Archbishop Paul Nabil Sayah, Maronite
H.E. Archbishop Abba Mathaious, Ethiopian
H.E. Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek Catholic
Bishop Gregor Peter Malki, Syrian Catholic
Bishop Munib A. Younan, Lutheran
Bishop Suheil Dawani, Anglican
Bishop Raphael Minassian, Armenian Catholic
Jerusalem – December 15, 2009

Kairos Palestine
This document is the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine. It is written at this time when we wanted to see the Glory of the grace of God in this land and in the sufferings of its people. In this spirit the document requests the international community to stand by the Palestinian people who have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades. The suffering continues while the international community silently looks on at the occupying State, Israel. Our word is a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God. We address it first of all to ourselves and then to all the churches and Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace in our region, calling on them to revisit theologies that justify crimes perpetrated against our people and the dispossession of the land.

In this historic document, we Palestinian Christians declare that the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity, and that any theology that legitimizes the occupation is far from Christian teachings because true Christian theology is a theology of love and solidarity with the oppressed, a call to justice and equality among peoples.
This document did not come about spontaneously, and it is not the result of a coincidence. It is not a theoretical theological study or a policy paper, but is rather a document of faith and work. Its importance stems from the sincere expression of the concerns of the people and their view of this moment in history we are living through. It seeks to be prophetic in addressing things as they are without equivocation and with boldness, in addition it puts forward ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and all forms of discrimination as the solution that will lead to a just and lasting peace with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds as its capital. The document also demands that all peoples, political leaders and decision-makers put pressure on Israel and take legal measures in order to oblige its government to put an end to its oppression and disregard for the international law. The document also holds a clear position that non-violent resistance to this injustice is a right and duty for all Palestinians including Christians.

The initiators of this document have been working on it for more than a year, in prayer and discussion, guided by their faith in God and their love for their people, accepting advice from many friends: Palestinians, Arabs and those from the wider international community. We are grateful to our friends for their solidarity with us.
As Palestinian Christians we hope that this document will provide the turning point to focus the efforts of all peace-loving peoples in the world, especially our Christian sisters and brothers. We hope also that it will be welcomed positively and will receive strong support, as was the South Africa Kairos document launched in 1985, which, at that time proved to be a tool in the struggle against oppression and occupation. We believe that

liberation from occupation is in the interest of all peoples in the region because the problem is not just a political one, but one in which human beings are destroyed.
We pray God to inspire us all, particularly our leaders and policy-makers, to find the way of justice and equality, and to realize that it is the only way that leads to the genuine peace we are seeking.
With thanks
• His Beatitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah
• His Eminence Archbishop Atallah Hanna
• Rev. Dr. Jamal Khader
• Rev. Dr. Rafiq Khoury
• Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb
• Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek
• Rev. Dr. Yohana Katanacho
• Rev. Fadi Diab
• Dr. Jiries Khoury
• Ms. Cedar Duaybis
• Ms. Nora Kort
• Ms. Lucy Thaljieh
• Mr. Nidal Abu El Zuluf
• Mr. Yusef Daher
• Mr. Rifat Kassis – Coordinator


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Ten facts about the Nakba

Ten facts about the Nakba
IMEU, May 1, 2008


Palestinian women walk through the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon in 1951. (UNRWA)

“We thought it would be a matter of weeks, only until the fighting died down. Of course, we were never allowed to go home.” Nina Saah, Washington, DC

“My family’s farm of oranges, grapefruits and lemons, centuries old, was gone.” Darwish Addassi, Walnut Creek, California

“Those of us who left unwillingly in 1948 are plagued with painful nostalgia. My house in West Jerusalem is an Israeli nursery school now.” Inea Bushnaq, New York, New York

“The people of New Orleans woke up one morning to complete devastation and had to flee. The Nakba was our Hurricane Katrina.” Abe Fawal, Birmingham, Alabama

Sixty years ago, more than 700,000 Palestinians lost their homes and belongings, their farms and businesses, their towns and cities. Jewish militias seeking to create a state with a Jewish majority in Palestine, and later, the Israeli army, drove them out. Israel rapidly moved Jews into the newly-emptied Palestinian homes. Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic, and Palestinians refer to the destruction of their society and the takeover of their homeland as an-Nakba, “The Catastrophe.”

Ten Facts about the Nakba

1. The Nakba is a root cause of the Israeli/Palestinian problem.

It is marked on May 15, the day after Israel declared its independence in 1948.

2. This traumatic event created the Palestinian refugee crisis.

By the end of 1948, two-thirds of the Palestinian population was exiled. It is estimated that more than 50% were driven out under direct military assault. Others fled as news spread of massacres committed by Jewish militias in Palestinian villages like Deir Yassin and Tantura.

3. Jewish leaders saw “transfer” as an important step in the establishment of Israel.

Jewish leaders spoke openly of the need to use military clashes to expel as many Palestinians as possible before other Arab countries could come to their defense. The Haganah militia’s Plan Dalet was the blueprint for this ethnic cleansing. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, said “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.” (See what other leading Israelis have said about transfer.)

4. Hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed.

Jewish forces depopulated more than 450 Palestinian towns and villages, most of which were demolished.

5. Palestinian property and belongings were simply taken.

The newly-established Israeli government confiscated refugee land and properties without respect to Palestinian rights or desires to return to their homes.

Israeli historian Tom Segev reported that: “Entire cities and hundreds of villages left empty were repopulated with new [Jewish] immigrants… Free people – Arabs – had gone into exile and become destitute refugees; destitute refugees – Jews – took the exiles’ places in the first step in their lives as free people. One group [Palestinians] lost all they had while the other [Jews] found everything they needed – tables, chairs, closets, pots, pans, plates, sometimes clothes, family albums, books radios, pets….

6. Some Palestinians stayed in what became Israel.

While most Palestinians were driven out, some remained in what became Israel. Although citizens of the new state, they were subject to Israeli military rule until 1966. Today, Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise nearly 20 percent of Israel’s population. They have the right to vote and run for office, but more than 20 Israeli laws explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews. Nearly one-quarter of Israel’s Palestinians are “internally displaced” persons, unable to return to the homes and lands that were taken from them.

7. There are still millions of Palestinian refugees dispersed around the world.

Today, there are 4.4 million Palestinian refugees registered as such with the United Nations, and at least another estimated 1 million who are not so registered. Thus a majority of the Palestinian people, around 10 million persons, are refugees.

8. Refugees have internationally-recognized rights.

All refugees enjoy internationally-recognized rights to return to areas from which they have fled or were forced out, to receive compensation for damages, and to either regain their properties or receive compensation and support for voluntary resettlement. This right has been explicitly acknowledged in recent peace agreements in Cambodia, Rwanda, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guatemala, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Burundi, and Darfur. This right was affirmed for the Palestinians by the United Nations Resolution 194 of 1948. Israel, however, does not allow Palestinian refugees to return, although a Jew from anywhere in the world can settle in Israel.

9. Justly resolving refugee rights is essential to Middle East peace.

An overwhelming majority of Palestinians believes that refugee rights must be fulfilled for peace between Palestinians and Israelis to endure. And according to an August 2007 poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, nearly 70 percent believe that refugees should be allowed to return to “their original land”.

10. The Nakba has implications for Americans.

Israel’s ongoing denial of Palestinian rights – and unconditional U.S. financial and diplomatic support for Israel – fuels anti-American sentiment abroad. A 2002 Zogby poll, conducted in eight Arab countries showed that “the negative perception of the United States is based on American policies, not a dislike of the West.” The same poll showed that “the Palestinian issue was listed by many Arabs among the political issues that affect them most personally.” Resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue would undoubtedly improve America’s international image, by proving that the U.S. government supports the consistent application of international law.

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Jewish organizations endorse boycott of Israel

Jewish organizations endorse boycott of Israel

Saed Bannoura

IMEMC, March 17, 2011

Around twenty Jewish organizations, and a number of prominent Jewish individuals, including several Holocaust survivors, have signed on to a letter published by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network this week endorsing a boycott of Israeli goods and institutions, and calling for divestment and sanctions of Israel.

The letter was a response to a statement by liberal Zionist organizations on February 15th condemning the boycott of all Israeli goods, and launching a campaign titled “Buy Israel – Don’t Buy Settlements (They’re not the Same)”. The campaign came out of the J Street Conference held by liberal Zionists in Washington DC, and was led by Meretz, a liberal Zionist organization closely affiliated with J Street.

That statement said, in part, “We believe that a targeted boycott of the settlements (as opposed to a global boycott of sovereign Israel) is a legitimate tool to be used by Zionist organizations and individuals, both in Israel and in the Diaspora, to help bring the Occupation to an end and achieve a two-state solution. An indiscriminate boycott of Israel and Israelis runs the risk of strengthening those forces within Israel opposed to a genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and of alienating many mainstream Israelis of good will.”

The response letter, entitled “A Jewish response to the February 2011 Statement of Jewish Zionist Organizations on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)”, gives several reasons for support of academic, cultural and commercial boycotts, divestments and sanctions of Israel, stating that such actions:
are being called for by Palestinian civil society in response to the occupation and colonization of their land,
are a moral tool of non-violent, peaceful response to more than sixty years of Israeli colonialism, and
rightfully place accountability on Israeli institutions (and their allies and partners) that use business, cultural, and academic ties to white-wash Israel’s responsibility for continuing crimes against humanity,

In addition, the letter of the Jewish Anti-Zionist Network addressed the claim made by some Zionist organizations that boycott of Israel is anti-Semitic, saying, “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] are not antisemitic. We reject the notion that the 2005 BDS call from Palestine, and the BDS campaigns the world over which it has inspired, are rooted in anti-Jewish sentiment. On the contrary, BDS is an anti-racist movement against the daily, brutal occupation of Palestine and military threat to the region by the State of Israel. False claims of antisemitism distort the true nature of the Palestinian struggle and are an affront to, and betrayal of, the long history of Jewish survival and resistance to persecution.”

The organizations and individuals who signed onto the letter say that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel are meant to pressure Israel to fulfill its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and to fully comply with the precepts of international law.

List of signatories:

* International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
* Not In Our Name (Argentina)
* Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in Middle East (EJJP, Germany)
* Not in Our Name: Jews Opposing Zionism (Canada)
* Jews for a Just Peace (Fredericton, Canada)
* Independent Jewish Voice (Canada)
* Middle East Children’s Alliance (USA)
* Critical Jewish Voice (Austria)
* Women in Black (Austria)
* French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP)
* Bay Area Women in Black (USA)
* St. Louis Women in Black (USA)
* Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace (USA)
* American Jews for a Just Peace (USA)
* Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)
* JUNTS, Asociació catalana de Jueus i Palestins (Asociación Catalana de Judios y Palestinas, Spain)
* Ronnie Kasrils, former South African government minister, writer, founder Not In My Name, South Africa
* Antony Loewenstein, Independent Australian Jewish Voices
* Peter Slezak, Independent Australian Jewish Voices
* Moshé Machover, Professor (emeritus) (UK), founder Matzpen
* Felicia Langer, Israeli lawyer, author, Right Livelihood Award 2006 (Alternative Nobel Prize) 1990, Bruno Kreisky Prize 1991
* Mieciu Langer, Nazi Holocaust survivor
* Hedy Epstein, Nazi Holocaust survivor
* Hajo G. Meyer PhD, Nazi Holocaust survivor
* Kamal Chenoy, IJAN India & The All India Peace and Solidarity Organization
* Paola Canarutto & Giorgio Forti, Rete ECO, Italy
* Liliane Cordova Kaczerginski, IJAN France
* Sonia Fayman, IJAN France & UJFP
* Ernesto Rosenberg, GRAMARPAL (Grupo de Amistad Argentina-Palestina, Neuquén, Argentina)
* Mark Elf, blogger, Jews sans Frontieres

We welcome organizations and individuals to join us in condemning false claims of anti-Semitism for the purposes of attempting to discredit our collective anti-racist activism against Israeli apartheid.

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Israel’s Latest Apartheid Law By ILAN PAPPÉ

March 22, 2011

Introducing ASOI

Israel’s Latest Apartheid Law


Those of us who have been veteran comrades in the struggle for peace and justice in Palestine have quite often been frustrated by the inability to galvanize enough support in the political and media establishments in the West against the brutal occupation of the West Bank and the strangulation of Gaza.  We believed that clear cut evidence of the oppression and the highly visible criminal policies that raged since 1967 should have at least triggered a world reaction similar to the one that now takes place against Libya, and even more so.

But we know all the reasons why it did not, and will not happen. And yet we may have overlooked one particular reason, indeed one successful ploy of the Israeli peace camp that seems to have aborted any such effort in its buds. The liberal Zionists believe strongly in the existence of two discrete entities one Israel and one that lies on the other side of the 1967 green line which have very little in common. The acceptance of this line as a hard fact is the main justification given in the West for the inaction against Israel (one which is also supported by some of Palestine’s best friends and of course the Palestinian Authority). The line drawn is not just a political boundary it is mainly a moral border. Everything that is happening in the occupied world is diametrically opposed to life in democratic Israel and hence the argument is that if you treat Israel as a pariah state then you will also harm the ‘good’ part, the pre-1967 state. This is also the basis to the continued support for the two states solution that bases peace on the ability of moral Israel to re-invent itself in the pre-1967 borders.

I hope this distinction would at least disappear from the vocabulary and dictionary of the Western solidarity movement with Palestine (where it can still be heard in loyalty to the peace camp in Israel, the PA and the invisible lord of realpolitik).That this distinction is false was proved once more this week (20 March, 2011) when yet another apartheid law was passed in Israel. This new law allows Jewish settlements built on state land inside Israel not to admit Israeli Palestinian citizens as residents and  legalizes the wish of these new settlers not to sell land to  the Palestinians citizens of the state. This is one of many such laws passed recently (the loyalty oath law that turns the Palestinians in Israel to second class citizens by law and one which does not allow them to live with their Palestinians spouses from the occupied territories are two of the more famous apartheid laws passed recently). The new law, like the previous others,  institutionalize the Apartheid State of Israel  or for short ASOI.

ASOI is now one of worst apartheid regimes in the world. It controls almost all of Palestine (apart from Gaza which it imprisoned hermetically since 2005). It has, in absolute terms the highest number of political prisoners (China was reported to have less then 1000, Iran has few thousands); Israel holds nearly 10,000 of them. It has the largest number of apartheid laws and regulations than any country in the world and apart from the Arab regimes that are now collapsing and rogue states such as  Miramar and North Korea,  has the longest imposition of emergency laws and regulations that rob citizens of their most basic human and civil rights. Its policies against the discriminated native population, now composing nearly half of the overall population in ASOI,  include atrocities such as  barring people from using water sources, from cultivating their fields, building more houses, from getting to work, schools or universities and it bans them from commemorating their history and in particular the 1948 Nakbah.

ASOI is protected by left wing philosophers, mostly Jewish but not only, in the USA and the West as well as by the new members of the European Union whose deplorable record during the holocaust may explain their unconditional support for ASOI. It enjoys the unconditional backing of many Jewish communities in the World, Christian Zionists and cynical corporations who benefit from ASOI’s military elite’s  proclivity to use lethal weapons at will and from the state’s progressive banking system and a high tech know how.

ASOI could become the Free Republic of Israel and Palestine (FRISP) or any similar name, where people would enjoy the same rights now fought for all over the Arab world and which the West claim to disseminate and protect all over the world. If ASOI will not become FRISP, any action such as the one taken now by the West in Libya would rightly be regarded suspiciously as cynical and dishonest.

Linkage has lost it attraction since it was misused by Saddam Hussein in 1991. But now is the time to revive it. It is time to realize that there will not be a new Middle East – in fact, there will no world peace – if ASOI continues to enjoy immunity and is not curbed and stopped – and hopefully one day  – replaced by the democratic FRISP.

Ilan Pappé is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, director of the university’s European Centre for Palestine Studies, co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies, and political activist. His books include A Modern History of Palestine, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and Gaza in Crisis (with Noam Chomsky).

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Justice for Rachel, justice for the Palestinians

Justice for Rachel, justice for the Palestinians
Cindy and Craig Corrie, The Electronic Intifada, 16 March 2009

Rachel Corrie and another international activist defending a Palestinian home shortly before Corrie was killed by the Israeli army bulldozer. (International Solidarity Movement)

We thank all who continue to remember Rachel and who, on this sixth anniversary of her stand in Gaza, renew their own commitments to human rights, justice and peace in the Middle East. The tributes and actions in her memory are a source of inspiration to us and to others.

Friday, 13 March, we learned of the tragic injury to American activist Tristan Anderson. Tristan was shot in the head with a tear gas canister in Nilin village in the West Bank when Israeli forces attacked a demonstration opposing the construction of the annexation wall through the village’s land. On the same day, a Nilin resident was shot in the leg with live ammunition. Four residents of Nilin have been killed in the past eight months as villagers and their supporters have courageously demonstrated against the Apartheid Wall deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice — a wall that will ultimately absorb one-quarter of the village’s remaining land.

Rachel Corrie - peace activist murdered by Israeli army

Those who have died are 10-year-old child Ahmed Mousa, shot in the forehead with live ammunition on 29 July 2008; Yousef Amira (17), shot with rubber-coated steel bullets on 30 July 2008; Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22) and Mohammed Khawaje (20), both shot and killed with live ammunition on 8 December 2008. On this anniversary, Rachel would want us all to hold Tristan Anderson and his family and these Palestinians and their families in our thoughts and prayers, and we ask everyone to do so.

We are writing this message from Cairo where we returned after a visit to Gaza with the Code Pink delegation from the United States. Fifty-eight women and men successfully passed through Rafah crossing on Saturday, 7 March to challenge the border closures and siege and to celebrate International Women’s Day with the strong and courageous women of Gaza.

Rachel would be very happy that our spirited delegation made this journey. North to south throughout the Strip, we witnessed the sweeping destruction of neighborhoods, municipal buildings, police stations, mosques and schools — casualties of the Israeli military assaults in December and January. When we asked about the personal impact of the attacks on those we met, we heard repeatedly of the loss of mothers, fathers, children, cousins and friends. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports 1,434 Palestinian dead and more than 5,000 injured, among them 288 children and 121 women.

We walked through the farming village of Khoza in the south where 50 homes were destroyed during the land invasion. A young boy scrambled through a hole in the rubble to show us the basement he and his family crouched in as a bulldozer crushed their house upon them. We heard of Rafiya, who lead the frightened women and children of this neighborhood away from threatening Israeli military bulldozers, only to be struck down and killed by an Israeli soldier’s sniper fire as she walked in the street carrying her white flag.

Rachel Corrie moments before she was bulldozed to death

Repeatedly, we were told by Palestinians, and by the internationals on the ground supporting them, that there is no ceasefire. Indeed, bomb blasts from the border area punctuated our conversations as we arrived and departed Gaza. On our last night, we sat by a fire in the moonlight in the remains of a friend’s farmyard and listened to him tell of how the Israeli military destroyed his home in 2004, and of how this second home was shattered on 6 February. This time, it was Israeli rockets from Apache helicopters that struck the house. A stand of wheat remained and rustled soothingly in the breeze as we talked, but our attention shifted quickly when F-16s streaked high across the night sky and our friend explained that if the planes tipped to the side, they would strike.

Everywhere, the psychological costs of the recent and ongoing attacks for all Gazans, but especially for the children, were sadly apparent. It is not only those who suffer the greatest losses that carry the scars of all that has happened. It is those, too, who witnessed from their school, bodies flying in the air when police cadets were bombed across the street and those who felt and heard the terrifying blasts of missiles falling near their own homes. It is the children who each day must walk past the unexplainable and inhumane destruction that has occurred.

In Rachel’s case, though a thorough, credible and transparent investigation was promised by the Israeli government, after six years, the position of the US government remains that such an investigation has not taken place. In March 2008, Michele Bernier-Toff, Managing Director of the Office of Overseas Citizen Services at the Department of State, wrote, “We have consistently requested that the Government of Israel conduct a full and transparent investigation into Rachel’s death. Our requests have gone unanswered or ignored.” Now, the attacks on all the people of Gaza and the recent one on Tristan Anderson in Nilin cry out for investigation and accountability. We call on President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and members of Congress to act with fortitude and courage to ensure that the atrocities that have occurred are addressed by the Israeli government and through relevant international and US law. We ask them to act immediately and persistently to stop the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military, not to encourage it.

Despite the pain, we have once again felt privileged to enter briefly into the lives of Rachel’s Palestinian friends in Gaza. We are moved by their resilience and heartened by their song, dance and laughter amidst the tears. Rachel wrote in 2003, “I am nevertheless amazed at their strength in being able to defend such a large degree of their humanity — laughter, generosity, family time — against the incredible horror occurring in their lives … I am also discovering a degree of strength and the basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances … I think the word is dignity.” On this sixth anniversary of Rachel’s killing, we echo her sentiments.

Cindy and Craig Corrie are the parents of Rachel Corrie, who was killed by the Israeli army while protecting a Palestinian doctor’s home from being demolished on 16 March 2003.

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Apartheid and Israel


What is apartheid?

Apartheid is the Afrikaner word for “apartness.” It became systematized in South Africa in 1948 when the Afrikaner Nationalists took power. It is a system of institutionalized segregation designed to perpetuate the supremacy of the dominant group. It reflects a belief that certain people are less human than others. In South Africa it translated into the systematic imprisonment of Black South Africans, torture in prisons, ghettoized neighborhoods, lack of equal opportunities to work, education, and living standard. That’s what most people think of as Apartheid. But in fact, Apartheid is not only South African phenomenon.

According to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid GA Resolution 3068 (1973),1 Apartheid refers to policies and practices enacted in order establish and maintain domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.2 More broadly, Apartheid refers to any social system that separates and discriminates against people based on race or ethnicity or other similar non-malleable characteristic, when that system is institutionalized by laws or decrees.

What is/was the relationship between Israel and Apartheid South Africa?

The parallels between policies in Israel and apartheid were not incidental. They grew out of a close connection which helped South Africa sustain its apartheid regime.

Given South Africa’s support for Nazi Germany the alliance it formed with Israel soon after the state was founded is surprising. For this was no ordinary alliance. In his 1987 book The Israeli Connection: Who Israel Arms and Why, Israeli Professor Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi described the intimate collaboration between Israel and apartheid South Africa as “a unique alliance…the most comprehensive and the most serious Israeli involvement anywhere in the world. Many countries conduct business with South Africa, and many countries support the survival of apartheid in variation ways, but only Israel’s support is so direct and unreserved. Only in Israel are the red carpets rolled for the visits of South African leaders”–as it was in April 1976 for Prime Minister John Vorster, who had been imprisoned by the British for pro- Nazi activities which he never repudiated. Only Israel, wrote Beit-Hallahmi, offered South Africa assistance “with everything from public relations to military and counterinsurgency measures.”

Israel played a key role in helping South Africa evade sanctions. Under the guise of a web of joint ventures, dummy companies, and middlemen, Israel supplied South Africa with needed technology, and also turned South African materials into finished products that were exported to Africa, the US and Europe bearing a “Made in Israel” label.

There was a network of sister-city agreements between South African and Israeli towns. Bisho, the capital city of South Africa’s notorous “homeland” Ciskei was paired with Ariel, the West Bank settlement which early in 1989 ordered its Palestinian labor force to wear badges proclaiming them to be “foreign workers.” Sister-city relationships were also formed between Tel Aviv and Johannesburg, Haifa and Cape Town, Eilat and Drbuan, Askelon and Port Elizabeth.

Both countries saw the possession of nuclear weapons as the ultimate guarantee of their existence. In 1962 Israel received ten tons of uranium from South Africa for use in its Doimona nuclear reactor. By the 1970s, Israel and South Africa were collaborating in the development of their nuclear programs.

Israel is not like South Africa, why are you using the word Apartheid?

It is true that Israeli apartheid policies don’t mirror those of Apartheid South Africa exactly, but that lack of perfect symmetry does not shatter the stark parallel between the two cases. Consider that whereas in South Africa, apartheid distinguished between whites and non-whites, in Israel the parallel categories are Jews and non-Jews. In its application, the main difference between the two case studies is that in South Africa, the system was created both to seize land and exploit non-white labor, while in Israel it’s implemented in order to control as much land for exclusive Jewish use. Both systems are designed for economic gain for the dominant group that causes and sustains the disempowerment and impoverishment of the subjugated group.

Expropriation of Land—Israeli expropriation of Palestinian lands began in 1948 when Zionists founded the State of Israel and displaced approximately 700,000 indigenous Palestinians and destroyed nearly 500 Palestinian villages. Confiscation of Palestinian land for Jewish use within Israel Proper continues to this day and is facilitated by a number of laws including the Absentee Property Law of 1950. The Absentee Property Law declares all lands that were fled from in 1948 as State Property thereby depriving its indigenous inhabitants access to the land or even compensation. Between 1948 and 1953, Israel established 370 new settlements for Jews only, 350 of which were located on land confiscated as “absentee” property. Since 1978, settlement policies inside the State have focused on settling Jewish populations in the areas outside greater Tel Aviv, especially the Galilee in order to manipulate the local demography.3

Land expropriation began in the Occupied Palestinian Territories after the Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in the aftermath of the 1967 6-Day War. Since 1967, Israel has systematically confiscated Palestinian land in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank for settlement expansion. The situation is especially harsh in Jerusalem where Israel has embarked on a “Judaization” campaign by disproportionately serving its Jewish residents. According to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, Jerusalem’s Jewish population, who make up 70% of the city’s 700,000 residents, are served by 1,000 parks, 36 public swimming pools and 26 libraries. In contrast, the 260,000 Palestinians living in the east of the city have 45 parks, no public swimming pools, and 2 libraries.4

I thought the problem was occupation, why are you calling it Apartheid? Which one is it?

Apartheid is the framework which refers to the institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians within Israel Proper and the Occupied Territories. Military occupation in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank is one manifestation of Israel’s Apartheid policies. Other symptoms include the denial of entry of Palestinian citizens into Israel and/or the Occupied Territories. The Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (also known as the Ban on Family Unification) which prevents Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel from gaining residency or citizenship status is another symptom of Israeli Apartheid policies.5 In other words, apartheid is the overall framework and occupation is one of its symptoms.

Are Israel’s Apartheid Policies limited to the Occupied Palestnian Territories?

No, although apartheid policies are most stark in the Occupied Palestinian Territories where a Jewish settlement program necessitates the confiscation of Palestinian land, the disproportionate allocation of water between Jews and non-Jews, and the construction of by-pass roads for exclusive Jewish use, apartheid policies also exist within Israel Proper and are applied against its Palestinian citizens.

Within Israel, there are 4.6 million Jewish citizens, 1.3 million Palestinian Christian and Muslim citizens of Israel and 0.5 million citizens who are neither Jewish nor Palestinian. Israel explicitly privileges its Jewish citizens over its non-Jewish citizens. It does so by implementing de jure and de facto policies.

Discrimination by law—Structurally, Israel has 20 laws that privilege its Jewish citizens over its non-Jewish citizens. The most fundamental of these laws are the The Law of Return (1950) and The Citizenship Law (1952), which allow Jews to freely immigrate to Israel and gain citizenship, but denies Palestinians refugees that same right as guaranteed by UN Resolution 194.

Another less insidious law is the National Planning and Building Law which denies basic services, such as water and electricity to roughly 70,000 residents of over 100 “unrecognized” Arab villages in the State. These villages are not recently created squatter villages—they each existed before the State’s establishment. The main purpose of the law is to force the people to leave their villages and move to government-planned areas. There are no equivalent unrecognized Jewish villages in Israel. The consequence of this is that 100,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel (i.e., 15% of their total) live without services and with incremental demolition.

If Palestinian-Israelis are citizens, and can vote in Israel, doesn’t that make them equal?

Israel defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic State. That means that while some rights are based on citizenship, others are based on nationality, distinguishing the rights available to Jew and non-Jew, irrespective of one’s citizenship. In effect, Israel’s Jewish citizens are privileged.

According to the U.S. State Department’s 2005 Annual Human Rights Report, “[There is] institutionalized legal and societal discrimination against Israel’s Christian, Muslim and Druze citizens. The government does not provide Israeli Arabs with the same quality of education, housing, employment and social services as Jews.”6 For example:

• Ninety-three per cent of the land in Israel is owned either by the state or by quasi-governmental agencies (such as the Jewish National Fund) that discriminate against non-Jews. Palestinian citizens of Israel face significant legal obstacles in gaining access to this land for agriculture, residence, or commercial development.

• Most non-Jewish children attend schools that are “separate and unequal” in comparison to those attended by Jewish Israeli children. Government budgets allocate far more money to Jewish schools than to non-Jewish schools. Zama Coursen-Neff, counsel to the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. Comments “Government-run Arab schools are a world apart from government-run Jewish schools. In virtually every respect, Palestinian Arab children get an education inferior to that of Jewish children, and their relatively poor performance in school reflects this.”7

Doesn’t Israel have the right to defend itself against Palestinians trying to destroy it? How is that apartheid?

Israel often uses the pretext of self-defense to justify its policies against Palestinians, but in almost all cases this is not true. Consider the construction of the Annexation Wall, also known as the Separation Fence. Israel claims that it built the Wall in order to prevent Palestinians from committing suicide bombings in Israel. Were that truly the case, the Wall would run along the Armistice Line separating the West Bank from Israel Proper. Instead the Wall runs two times the length of the Armistice Line and juts 13 miles east into the West Bank annexing Israel’s illegal settlements. The Wall effectively divides families from one another, children from their schools, farmers from their agricultural lands and creates tiny enclaves similar to Bantustans. According to the July 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, Israel can not use “self-defense” as a justification to violate international legal principles.8

More generally, Israel’s attacks on the Occupied Territories are consistently disproportionate and excessive. Between the

kidnapping of an Israeli soldier on June 25th 2006 until November 13th 2006, Israel had seized eight Palestinian cabinet members, bombed the office of the Palestinian Prime Minister, destroyed a power electric generator in the Gaza Strip which provided Gaza’s 1.3 million Palestinians with 40% of its electric supply, created 25 sonic booms in pre-dawn hours, and killed 300 Palestinians.9 Such acts can not be described as acts of self-defense. Instead they constitute collective punishment against a civilian population prohibited by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Wasn’t the Oslo Peace Process designed to end the occupation, and maybe end what you call apartheid?

Oslo was not a peace process. Oslo marked the drafting of the Declaration of Principles which would establish the terms of negotiation towards peace without a defined outcome. The terms of Oslo prefaced Israeli security above Palestinian statehood and self-determination. Meron Benvinitsim one of the foremost Israeli experts on the West Bank and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, referred to Palsestinian self-rule under Oslo as “merely a euphemism for Bantustinization” and continued occupation, “albeit by remote control.”10

Consider that in the aftermath of Oslo, the Occupied Territories were divided into 3 areas: A, B, and C.

Area A constituted 3% of the Territories and was under full Palestinian Authority military and civil control.

Area B constituted 23% of the Territories and was under full Palestinian Authority civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian military control.

Area C constituted 74% of the Territories including 145 settlements and new Jewish neighborhoods around East Jerusalem and was under full Israeli civil and military control. Effectively, Israel maintained military control over 97% of the Territories.11

Settlements—The heart of the conflict in the Occupied Territories are the settlements because they represent the encroachment and domination of the land. Settlements are illegal pursuant to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions which prohibits the transfer of one’s civilian population into Occupied Territories. Notwithstanding their illegality, during Oslo, between 1992 and 1996, settlements and settlers increased. The West Bank settler population grew by 39% and only 16% of this figure was due to natural population growth. In East Jerusalem, the Jewish settler population grew from 22,000 to 170,000 and the Israeli government built 10,000 new subsidized housing units.12

Far from being an era of peace, Oslo represented nearly a decade of Israeli violations of international law under the guise of peace and reconciliation.

How was Apartheid overcome in South Africa?

The Anti-Apartheid Movement began in the late 50s. Its mission was to work for the total isolation of the apartheid system including a boycott of South African products; an end to sports, academic and cultural contacts; an end to bank loans, military and economic ties, and the purchase of Krugerrands; divestment from South African companies and companies that have investments in South Africa; and for government sanctions to be imposed on the apartheid state.

• It grew into a grassroots movement which took root throughout Europe and in the United States, and took its guidance from the liberation movements, especially the ANC with its call for a new system based on “one man, one vote.” A major challenge was whether or not to support armed struggle—the armed wing of the ANC (Umkhonto we Sizwe) was formed in 1961.

At least as important as the sanctions imposed by the US and national governments (there were always ways around them) was the support given the boycott by NGOs, private businesses and individuals who refused to buy South African goods as long as apartheid lasted, and the moral decisions taken by private citizens and companies to mobilize their financial clout through divestment.

Support for the movement dramatically increased with the State of Emergency proclaimed by South Africa in 1985. In that context, international banks refused to renew South Africa bank loans so it could no longer raise funds abroad, a step which influenced leading South African capitalists to push for negotiations with Nelson Mandela (who was for decades considered “terrorist number one”)

Abdul Minty, the secretary of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, looked back on its achievements from 1999: “The world-wide movement was effective because it was a coalition of committed governments and people’s movements in the west which managed to influence policy at the national level, as well as at institutions like the UN. We used to say that the degree of unarmed pressure mobilized against apartheid would determine the degree of armed pressure that would be necessary to end it.”

What does the rest of the world, including governments, think about Apartheid as a description of Israeli policies?

The reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an example of Apartheid is not unique. Globally, governments, non-governmental organizations, and people like us are describing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as Apartheid.

The most well-known example of this usage is Jimmy Carter’s book, Peace not Apartheid. Although Carter limits the framework’s application to the Occupied Territories and not to all of Israel’s policies towards its Palestinian citizens and subjects, his book helps shed light on the less known fact that the situation is less one about security and more about racial discrimination. In discussing the wall he draws on interviews done with Palestinian Christian Religious leaders to address its legitimacy, he writes “Countering Israeli arguments that the wall is to keep Palestinian suicide bombers from Israel, Father Claudio adds a comment that describes the path of the entire barrier: ‘The Wall is not separating Palestinians from Jews; rather Palestinians from Palestinians.’ Nearby are three convents that will also be cut off from the people they serve. The 2,000 Palestinian Christians have lost their place of worship and their spiritual center.

Carter is not alone amongst former national leaders to use the word Apartheid to describe the conflict. Desmond Tutu is the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work against apartheid. In his 2002 article, “Do I Divest?, he writes, “Many South Africans are beginning to recognize the parallels to what we through. Ronnie Kasrils and Max Ozinsky, two Jewish heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle, recently published a letter titled ‘Not in My Name.’ Signed by several hundred other prominent Jewish South Africans, the letter drew an explicit analogy between apartheid and current Israeli policies. Mark Mathabane and Nelson Mandela have also pointed out the relevance of the South African experience.”

John Dugard is a South African law professor and the U.N. Special Rappoteur to the Occupied Territories. In his article, “Apartheid: Israelis adopt what South Africa dropped,” he comments that “Many aspects of Israel’s occupation surpass those of the apartheid regime. Israel’s large-scale destruction of Palestinian homes, leveling of agricultural lands, military incursions and targeted assasinations of Palestinians far exceed any similar practices in apartheid South Africa. No wall was ever built to separate blacks and whites.

Others who are using the word Apartheid include Professor Leila Farsakh at UMASS Boston University, Omar Barghouti, choreographer of the Palestinian folklore dance troupe, al-Funoun, the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, author Virginia Tilley, campus universities across the U.S. and abroad including UC Berkeley, Oxford, and Temple University, and Chris McGreal of the Guardian.

Why should the international community divest from Israel?

Israel will not abandon its apartheid policies without concerted pressure from an international community concerned with social, economic, and political justice. At present, the United States provides Israel with 3 billion dollars in direct aid annually, about two-thirds of it for military aid.13 Without this sustained aid, Israel could not continue to discriminate against its Palestinian-Israeli citizens nor violate international law and human rights in the Occupied Territories.

However, the United States in particular will not end aid to Israel easily since it considers Israel a strategic ally in the region. This should not be an impediment to those concerned with social justice. Rather than target the United States in its formidable beaurecratic structures—concerned citizens can target United States based corporations that profit from Israel’s apartheid policies. The CAT Campaign, in which grassroots organizations including the Jewish Voice for Peace and Stop are urging Caterpillar, Inc. shareholders to end its business with Israel until it comports with international law, represents one such divestment campaign. The most common divestment campaigns exist on University campuses nationally including UC Berkeley, University of Wisconsin, Harvard, and Columbia University. These campaigns target their Board of Trustees and urge them to divest their holdings in all corporations that profit from Israel’s illegal apartheid policies.

Internationally, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, COSATU the largest South African Trade Union, and the Anglican Parish of the Church of England have all joined the Divestment Campaign from Israel.

According to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure—in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation….These tactics are not the only parallels to the struggle against apartheid. Yesterday’s South African township dwellers can tell you about life in the Occupied Territories.”14



1 & 2 These policies and practices include:

(a) Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person: (i) By murder of members of a racial group or groups; (ii) By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious 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; (iii) By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;

(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;

(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;

(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;

(e) Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;

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

3 Habitat International Coalition Housing and Land Rights Network Middle East/North Africa, Also see Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem, “Israel to Activate ‘Absentee Property Law’ to Steal Palestinian Lands in Occupied East Jerusalem,” (January 31, 2005) available at

4 B’tselem, “East Jerusalem: Neglect of infrastructure and services in Palestinian neighborhoods,” available at According to John Dugard, UN chief human rights monitor in the occupied territories, “We had the Group Areas Act in South Africa, East Jerusalem has territorial classification that has the same sort of consequences as race classification had in South Africa in respect of who you can marry, where you live, where you can go to school or hospital,” as quoted in Chris McGreal, “Worlds apart,” The Guardian (February 6, 2006) available at,,1703245,00.html.

5 Adalah, “Special Report: Ban on Family Unification,” available at

6 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “Israel and the occupied territories,” Country Reports on Human Rigths Practices 2005.(March 8, 2005) available at

7 Human Rights Watch, “Israeli Schools Separate, Not Equal: Palestinian Arab Citizens Face Discrimination in Access to Education,” (December 5, 2001) available at

8 Sliman, Nidal, “World Court’s Ruling on Wall Speaks with Utmost Clarity,” MERIP (July 27, 2004) available at

9 “Switzerland says Israel uses collective punishment in Gaza,” VOA News (July 4, 2006) available at

10 Carey, Roane, “The Road Map to Nowhere,” The Nation (21 July 2003).

11 Beinin, Joel, “The Demise of the Oslo Process,” MERIP (March 26, 1999) available at

12 Id.

13 Mark, Clyde R., “Israel” U.S. Foreign Assistance,” Issue Brief for Congress available at

14 Urbana, Ian and Desmond Tutu, “Against Israeli Apartheid,” The Nation. (July 15, 2002). Available at

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Global BDS Movement – Why Sanctions?




Why Sanctions?

Given the current level and dependency of Israel upon global markets, particularly the technology and research sector, sanctions at a state, regional or institutional level may be the only effective measure to bring about effective pressure.



– Open the debate about sanctions on Israel.

– Raise awareness of Israel’s breaches of international law. A strong advocacy campaign can open up the issue to a wide audience and raise awareness of the Palestinian cause.

– Highlight international complicity with Israeli breaches of even the most basic norms of international law and Human Rights.

– Implementation of comprehensive sanctions against Israel encompassing military, trade and diplomacy ties.

– Ending of Israel’s membership of various diplomatic and economic forums including the United Nations, WHO, Red Cross, WTO and OECD.


The argument for sanctions against Israel is a powerful one as Israel is in breach of almost all its obligations under international law. In particular, Israel’s acceptance into the United Nations was conditional on its acceptance and implementation of UN Resolution 194. This resolution affirms the right of all Palestinians to return to their homes and lands from where they were exiled in 1948, requires Israel to compensate for losses, and stipulates that Palestinians must be compensated and relocated should they choose not to return to their communities. Israel refuses to abide by this resolution along with many others. Israel is also in clear breach of the fourth Geneva Convention, which is the cornerstone of international humanitarian law that ensures minimum protections for civilians in armed conflict and occupation. Sanctions would ensure that that Israeli apartheid and occupation become unprofitable and finally untenable, catalyze an anti-Zionist movement in Israeli society and boost the morale of those struggling under Occupation.

Do it yourself

The principle problem of sanctions is that action rests on states and global institutions, many of whom have a long history of supporting or implementing colonialism and occupations in the Middle East. However, a campaign for sanctions can be very effective in raising public awareness as government measures are often perceived by the general public to have more ‘legitimacy’ than boycotts and pickets by activists. There are three areas to which sanctions can be applied:

  • – Military links, including partnerships, agreements and joint operations(See the Military Ties section)
  • – Economic links, including trade, co-operation, forums, agreements, and joint research centres (See Cooperation Agreements)
  • – Diplomatic links, including relations on an official level, participation in external forums and networks and meetings between state representatives.


1. Start a letter writing campaign to your governmental representative or

Parliamentarians are often surprisingly ignorant of international politics: many are focused mostly on parochial issues. They need to be made aware that Israel’s breaches of international law are a matter of serious concern to their constituents. Start an email or post card campaign addressing your representative or organize Lobbying Days when concerned constituents speak to them in person, highlighting Israel’s breaches of International law and the situation on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza. Encourage them to raise the matter in the national parliament and call for sanctions.


2. Pressure on supra-national bodies

If you have representation in a supra-national body, apply similar pressure. For example, in summer 2004 the Non-Aligned Movement gave a hesitant indication that they might move towards sanctions. Pressure your government not to shelve this point but to implement it. If you are European citizen, find out who your member of the European Parliament is and write to them pointing at the EU Neighbourhood Policy and the free trade and research agreements with Israel and the fact that they involve Europe and its citizens directly with Israeli violations of human rights and international law. The OECD has recently invited Israel to become a member – though the state is in grave breach of many of its core principles. Join the campaign to stop their accession to membership.


3. Establish a local campaign group to put pressure on politicians

Pressure is more effective from a coordinated group than from individuals. In most countries, solidarity groups and human rights organizations have already started calls for sanctions. Join these groups or, where not possible, organize a local campaign group to spread the word about putting pressure on politicians. Draft a standard letter and circulate it by email or post. Spread the word by having your campaign group arrange meetings and speakers and invite other members of the public. Check out activist material and links for more resources.

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