‘There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies – not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy.’ Israeli President Moshe Katsav, The Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2001

The Apartheid Convention of 1973 defined apartheid as ‘inhumane acts committed for the purposes of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them’.

Apartheid robs one of honour and dignity – it debases, it humiliates, it dehumanizes, and it allows the oppressor to maim and murder with impunity because the rest of the world is made to believe the victims do not deserve their sympathy and compassion.

Political and religious leaders (the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former USA president Jimmy Carter, former SA Minister Ronnie Kasrils), rights groups like the Human Rights Watch (HRW), legal scholars and academics (Richard Falk, Virginia Tilley, John Dugard), and International institutions like the United Nations General Assembly and the African Union (AU) used the term ‘Apartheid’ to describe Israel’s actions against the Palestinians.

In 2017, for example, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) conducted an inquiry on ‘Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,’ and concluded that ‘Israel has established an Apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole’.

‘Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy,’ this leading international NGO flatly stated.

‘In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity.’ In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to crimes against humanity.

Israel’s claims of treating Palestinians living under its rule fairly, which have long been used to defend it against accusations of apartheid, have been all but contradicted by the Nation-State Bill it passed in July 2018. The law states that:
• The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfils its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.
• The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.
• The State views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.

These statements make it clear that Israel believes only Jewish people have any claim over the lands it currently rules over. This ideology both calls for and legitimises a system wherein, as the 2017 UNESCWA document states, “continued domination over non-Jews in all land exclusively under Israeli control” is perpetuated.


Dadoo, S. and Osman, F., 2013. Why Israel? Anatomy of Zionist Apartheid – A South African Perspective. Chapter 15.
Shakir, O., 2021. A Threshold Crossed. Human Rights Watch.
White, B., 2009. Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide by Ben White.

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