What is Apartheid?


What exactly is “apartheid” and how does it apply to Israel-Palestine?

  • In international law, Apartheid is a crime against humanity defined as “policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination… committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them”.1
  • Although both the Palestinian and Israeli populations are racially diverse, the legal definition of apartheid still applies. The United Nations defined “racial discrimination” as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.2
  • The systematic discrimination against Palestinians based on “national origin” both within Israel proper and especially within the Occupied Territories therefore can be considered a violation of the United Nations prohibition on the crime of Apartheid.
  • The United Nations provides a list of policies that fall under the definition of Apartheid and are prohibited under international law. Each one of the prohibited policies listed below has been implemented by the Israeli government in the Occupied Territories:
    • Murder, torture, inhuman treatment, and arbitrary arrest of members of a racial group;
    • Deliberate imposition on a racial group of living conditions calculated to cause its physical destruction;
    • Legislative measures that discriminate in the political, social, economic, and cultural fields;
    • Measures that divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate residential areas for racial groups;
    • The persecution of persons opposed to apartheid.

A few proessaywriting.org years ago, I agreed to take a turn at our writing group’s column in the local arts council newsletter
  1. United Nations Convention on Apartheid []
  2. See also: Ran Greenstein “Apartheid of a Special Type?” []

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