‘Occupartheid’ of Palestine worsens

The term coined by Palestinian activists to describe the situation in the West Bank and Gaza is correct. Israel enforces both a brutal occupation and official apartheid

Every so often, the carefully constructed veneer that Israel has built around its brutal occupation slips, and the state itself provides evidence of its crimes against the Palestinian population. One such event occurred this week, when a senior military commander admitted using live ammunition to drive Palestinians in the West Bank off their own land. He also admitted sabotaging the work of international aid agencies – a breach of international obligations. For an encore, he also described Palestinians as “weeds”. The contempt of officials for non-Jews under their control is clear.

Over the years, Israel has used a variety of terms to obscure the reality on the ground, usually Orwellian in their ability to describe night as day. A “moral” army is one; “democracy” is another. Israelis, and particularly its vocal supporters and enablers in the United States, scream loudly whenever the word “apartheid” is used. But as these events – and the daily evidence gathered by Palestinian observers – highlight, the situation on the ground is already apartheid.

Anyone who is not an Israeli Jew is systematically discriminated against. When the Catholic Pope arrives this weekend in Israel, he will hear from the Christian community, which is being wiped out from the land where Christ was born. Palestinian Christians have had their homes destroyed and their churches razed to the ground.

This is not merely apartheid, it is “occupartheid”, a term coined by Palestinian activists to describe the peculiar state of affairs they live under in the Palestinian territories. Within Israel, the Palestinians face systematic discrimination in their dealings with the Israeli state.

In the West Bank and Gaza, the situation is an awful combination of apartheid and occupation. Apartheid because roads, houses and whole areas are designated as “Jewish-only”. Occupation because Israeli troops act with complete impunity. In an incident this week two teenage boys simply walking were shot dead by Israeli snipers, an incident the United Nations urged Israel to investigate.

For more than four decades, international condemnation has been heaped on Israel and its disregard for Palestinian life. It is a deeply vicious circle: apartheid has made the occupation worse, and the occupation has entrenched official apartheid. The word “occupartheid” is apt.

Published: May 22, 2014 04:00 AM


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