On April 27th, Human Rights Watch released a report concluding that Israel is carrying out apartheid in the West Bank against the Palestinians.
It said that after decades of warnings that an entrenched hold over Palestinian life could lead to apartheid, it had found that the “threshold” had been crossed.
“This is the starkest finding Human Rights Watch has reached on Israeli conduct in the 30 years we’ve been documenting abuses on the ground there,” said Omar Shakir, the group’s Israel and Palestine director. Shakir said his organisation had never before directly accused Israeli officials of crimes against humanity.
Human Rights Watch’s executive director, Kenneth Roth, said this was not simply “an abusive occupation”. “These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another,” Roth said.
When similar allegations have been raised in the past, Israel has taken particular offence to the claim it discriminates against Palestinian citizens of the country, also known as Arab Israelis. It cites equal rights laws and the fact that Arabs are represented in government and the judicial system.
Responding to the claims, Israel’s foreign ministry accused Human Rights Watch of a “longstanding anti-Israeli agenda” and said the report was a “propaganda pamphlet” that had “no connection to facts or reality on the ground”.
“The fictional claims that HRW concocted are both preposterous and false,” it said.
Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson said the International Criminal Court needed to investigate, adding it was troubling that Australia recently rejected an ICC ruling confirming its jurisdiction over Palestine.
“Australia should look closely at the findings of this report, recognise the reality on the ground for what it is and bring to bear the sorts of human rights and accountability measures that a situation of this gravity warrants,” she said. “Australia should review all its bilateral agreements with Israel to ensure any activities don’t contribute to the commission of these crimes, assess and mitigate human rights impacts and end activities where mitigation is not possible.”
Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, said the report was a “textbook example of a biased organisation knowing what conclusion it wants to reach and then writing a report to substantiate it”.
“Israel is not an apartheid state and to claim it dishonours the real victims of apartheid in South Africa,” he said. “All Israeli citizens, regardless of race, colour or creed, have the same democratic rights.”
The report follows similar findings by Israeli rights bodies, including a January announcement by B’Tselem that claimed the country was not a democracy but an “apartheid regime”. One other domestic group, Yesh Din, published a legal opinion last summer in which it argued that apartheid was being committed, but limited its findings to the West Bank. Israel strongly rejected those claims.
Israel, as is seen, goes to its sure-win way of escaping situations such as these, calling on any international body as being either “Nazi” or biased, and that there is simply no way that it carries out such incredible discrimination against Palestinians, because in World War II the Jewish suffered, and they are fully aware of what it truly entails.
As such, any such allegation is hollow, at least according to Tel Aviv.
Israel-Turkey relations also seem to be improving, and as a result Tel Aviv could get even better at denying and rhetorically assaulting anybody who claims anything of human rights abuses, mentions genocide or apartheid, etc.