Is Asking For Human Rights anti- Semitism?

2013-03-14 10:52

On some campus across the globe conscience driven students have selected this week as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) resulting in vigorous debates across the mass media.

Different forms of awareness campaigns are being held to educate students about the situation of the Palestinian people and to draw attention to Israeli human right violations.

On the other side of the coin many pro Israelis promote Israel as the “only democracy in the Middle East” and label IAW as hate speech and ‘anti-Semitism’.

To understand why human right activists link Israel to apartheid South Africa, the treatment of the Palestinians since 1948 needs to be taken into account.

The word “apartheid”, an Afrikaans word meaning “separation” or literally “to have apart”, gained its current meaning during the South African apartheid that took place between 1948 and early 1994, in which the government declared certain regions as being reserved “for whites only”, with the black (non- white) population forcibly relocated to remote designated areas. (Wikipedia)

Examining Israel’s brutal occupation and track record, numerous international bodies like the United Nations and international figures like Jimmy Carter have also consistently concluded that Israel is in fact guilty of the crime of apartheid.

We do not need to have exactly the same characteristics of South African apartheid system within Israel in order to call Israel an apartheid state. In South Africa it was race-based and in Israel it is religious and ethnic based.

Israel is a state in which its indigenous population and non-Jews have an inferior significance. They have been stripped of their dignity and have no voice.

Similar to apartheid-era South Africa, Israel also suppresses the Palestinians by creating “Bantustans” example Gaza and the West Bank. Palestinians who live in these ghettos are without reason, cut off from basic necessities, their lands, jobs and families by the suppressive Wall. Their lives are under the complete control of Israel by way of roadblocks, checkpoints, strip searches, Jewish-only settlements, separate roads and registration plates for their vehicles, curfews and separate ID systems- all of which fit the definition of apartheid as defined by the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Israeli law also restricts where non-Jews may live, and they, Muslims and Christians are barred from buying in the Jewish quarter of the old city.

Furthermore, Israel defines itself as a “Jewish state” rather than a state for all its citizens.

According to many human right activists several provisions of Israel’s principal laws discriminate, either directly or indirectly, against non-Jews. It also maintains its apartheid style policies by way of a dual system of law that discriminates between Jewish Israelis and indigenous Palestinians based on a constructed status of Jewish nationality. Palestinians in Israel, as non-Jews, can be citizens, but never nationals, and are thus denied “rights and privileges” enjoyed by those who would qualify for Israeli citizenship under the 1950 Law of Return. Israeli nationality is guaranteed only to those determined to be of the Jewish religion.

Moreover, Palestinians have unequal access to voting rights, water, roads, housing, social and economic privileges including land, education, employment and social welfare.

Of all the bold characteristics of Israeli apartheid, perhaps none is more evident than the reality that roads have been built exclusively for Israelis and settlers in the Occupied West Bank. Something even worse than racist South African apartheid.

These are just some of the many aspects of Palestinian life affected by the Israeli government’s apartheid policies.

The Jews had suffered terribly under the oppressive Nazis, and the Holocaust was one of the most dreadful events in the history of Mankind, but it is evident that they have learnt nothing as they are now perpetuating terrible pain and suffering on fellow human beings. This is beyond comprehension why this is being condoned vis a vis Palestine!

In their love for Israel, many people have become blinded from seeing the atrocities being committed in the Holy Land.

IAW is not about hate speech or anti-Semitism. It is about asking for and  promoting human rights, equality, justice and a life of dignity for all who live in the Holy Land.

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