B’Tselem’s Historic Declaration: Israel’s Open War on Its Own Civil Society

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February 2, 2021

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“A Regime of Jewish Supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid,” was the title of a January 12 report by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. No matter how one is to interpret B’Tselem’s findings, the report is earth-shattering. The official Israeli response merely confirmed what B’Tselem has stated in no uncertain terms. Those of us who repeatedly claimed that Israel is not democratic, governed by an apartheid regime and systematically discriminates against its ethnic and racial minorities, in favor of the country’s Jewish majority, purportedly have nothing to learn from B’Tselem’s declaration. Thus, it may seem that the report, which highlighted racial discrimination in four major areas – land, citizenship, freedom of movement and political participation – merely, restated the obvious. In actuality, it went much further.

B’Tselem is a credible Israeli human rights organization. However, like other Israeli rights groups, it rarely went far enough in challenging the Israeli state’s basic definition of itself as a democratic state. Yes, on numerous occasions it rightly accused the Israeli government and military of undemocratic practices, rampant human rights violations and so on. But to demolish the very raison d’etre, the basic premise that gives Israel its legitimacy in the eyes of its Jewish citizens, and many more around the world, is a whole different story. “B’Tselem rejects the perception of Israel as a democracy (inside the Green Line) that simultaneously upholds a temporary military occupation (beyond it),” the Israeli rights group concluded based on the fact that the “bar for defining the Israeli regime as an apartheid regime has been met after considering the accumulation of policies and laws that Israel devised to entrench its control over Palestinians.”

Israel’s leading human rights organization was not arguing that Israel was turning into an apartheid state or that it was acting contrary to the spirit of democracy or that Israel is an undemocratic apartheid regime only within the geographic confines of the occupied Palestinian territories. None of this. According to B’tselem, which has for decades diligently documented numerous facets of Israeli government practices in the realm of politics, military, land-ownership, water distribution, health, education, and much more, Israel is, now, wholly an apartheid, undemocratic regime.

B’Tselem’s assessment is most welcomed, not as a belated admission of a self-evident reality but as an important step that could allow both Israelis and Palestinians to establish a common narrative on their relationship, political position and collective action in order to dismantle this Israeli apartheid.

29 January 2021

Source: palestineupdates.com

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