Is Israel an 'apartheid state?’


Fact Box

Ethan (Yes) 

The main argument over whether or not Israel is an apartheid state comes from differing opinions on what exactly defines an apartheid state. The newly recognized definition of apartheid concerns the oppression of one group by another through the use of inhumane acts. Airstrikes that kill children, tear apart families, and cities that enforce segregation and deportation are certainly inhumane acts. The website Human Rights Watch, details how 'the international community has over the years detached the term apartheid from its original South African context, developed a universal legal prohibition against its practice, and recognized it as a crime against humanity with definitions provided in the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid'. 

This updated definition for apartheid is as follows: 'a crime committed when officials systematically oppress one group in the territory under their control, and subject it to inhumane acts, with the intent to maintain the domination over that group for the benefit of another group.' Under this widely recognized definition, it's impossible to deny Israel is an apartheid state.

Many officials, countries, and human rights groups agree that what is currently happening to Palestinians is an act of oppressive violence being carried by Israel. B'Tselem and Human Rights Watch have both labeled Israel as an apartheid state, as did a 2020 United Nations report. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the country an apartheid state, tweeting on May 15, 2021, 'Apartheid states aren't democracies.' The fact that so many groups and individuals are agreeing says something about the extent of Israel's crimes, and it's hard to refute the claim that they are, in fact, an apartheid state.  

Bill (No)

Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning 'apart-hood' or 'separateness.' Apartheid is an unsuitable description of Israel and the current clashes between Jews and Palestinians there. Non-Jewish Israelis enjoy the same rights as Jewish Israelis, including having representatives for the Knesset (the Israeli legislature). In fact, Arabic is recognized as one of Israel's official languages.

Labeling Israel as an 'apartheid state' is an attempt to de-legitimize Israel's sovereignty as a nation; it's a gross mischaracterization intended as a weapon to turn world opinion against Israel. Since Israel's 1948 reestablishment of its historic ancestral land, there has been conflict between the Jews and Palestinians. Since its founding, Israel has been surrounded by unfriendly Arab states and has been continually defending itself for over 70 years. The tensions that erupted in May 2021 are merely the latest examples of Israel's volatility of daily life. Arab terrorist organization Hamas (whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel) is the primary force behind the violence toward Israel (including thousands of rocket attacks).

South African apartheid has an entirely different history than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Apartheid was rooted in racial segregation and legislation aimed at disenfranchising black South Africans. Apartheid more closely resembles the US history of slavery and segregation in pre and post-Civil War times. To compare apartheid to the current dynamic in Israel is to minimize the suffering and institutionalized discrimination and human rights restrictions and violations visited upon blacks in South Africa. Israel's legitimate right to defend itself from attacks from within and without its borders by Palestinians and Arab-led terrorist organizations is in no way comparable to apartheid.

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