Israel is running an apartheid regime in Palestine; no, this statement is not a hyperbole, it is not an exaggeration, it is a factual statement acknowledging the current reality in Palestine. The treatment of Palestinians by Israeli Jews involves actively stealing Palestinian land, regularly bombing Palestinians, imprisoning and torturing them at will and completely dehumanizing them. Just recently they carried out an unprovoked bombing campaign in Gaza which they nicknamed; “Operation Breaking Dawn”, this bombing attack, the latest in a series of bombing attacks on Palestinians, resulted in the deaths of 49 Palestinians including 17 children. The attack ordered by Israeli prime minister, Yair Lapid, was unprovoked. The Israelis had attempted to incite the Palestinian Islamic Jihad into attacking Israel as a pretext to bomb Gaza by arresting one of its leaders, but when a response was not forthcoming, they bombed Gaza under the pretence of a pre-emptive strike to forestall a Palestinian attack in Israel. This attack as well as numerous other attacks featured the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure including civilian homes in line with their Dahiya doctrine; in which Israeli military targets civilian infrastructure of those it deems to be hostile in an indiscriminate and disproportionate manner.

A brief background 

The background of this conflict can be traced to the immigration of European Jews into Palestine in the early 20th century and the subsequent subjugation and expulsion of the native Palestinian population by use of force. The 19th century saw a rejuvenation of Zionism among the European Jews and with that came talks of establishing a homeland for the Jews who were at that time scattered across Europe but had the majority of their population in eastern Europe, mostly in the Russian empire. The Jews have a rich history of being persecuted and expelled from places in which they emigrate and reside; it was a regular feature in European history for the past two millennia for Jews to be persecuted. While jews will always maintain their innocence and claim that they were unjustly persecuted due to their faith, it is interesting to note that the accusations usually levied against them always centered around their usurious practices. These frequent persecutions made the Jews desire a homeland for themselves and in the 19th century, Zionists began to lay the groundwork for establishing a Jewish state in Palestine.

The Balfour declaration, a document regarded by British historians and prominent British persons as the genesis of the current conflict in the middle east and as one of the worst foreign policy decisions of the British government. This declaration, which was presented to Baron Rothschild, contained a British pledge to establish in Palestine a home for the Jewish people, the document also contained as an addendum, a caveat that this action will not infringe on the rights and privileges of the native Palestinian population. Lord Rothschild then a prominent banker and a very rich individual was head of the British chapter of the Rothschild family and a leader of the Jewish community in Britain who had sponsored a previous agricultural emigration of Jews to Palestine. This declaration occurred in 1917 during the Great war at a time where there was a stalemate in the war, at this point in time, America had not yet committed to the war and the Russian army was distracted by the revolution which was underway in Russia. Britain wanted its own sphere of influence in the Ottoman empire in the event of its defeat and proposed to use the Zionist cause as a means to achieve that. The British promised the Zionists that it will help establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine and in return the Zionists helped to bring America into the war. 

The Balfour declaration was contentious and the reasons why include: Britain, an European power, was promising a land which was not its territory and which was not even in Europe to another group of Europeans; this was after Britain had made a deal with the Arabs that it will support their independence if they revolted against the Ottomans, never mind that Britain reneged on its agreement with the Sykes-Picot agreement, this was Britain stabbing the Arabs in the back by offering part of their land to other Europeans. Also, as at the time when this document was drawn up, Jews barely made up to 1% of the population of Palestine and even this figure consisted of recent immigrants. Palestinians, who were the inhabitants of the land were not consulted in the making of this document that effectively gave their land to aliens. This declaration made Zionism popular among Jews worldwide and led to a massive influx of Jews into Palestine which culminated into the violence that besieged the region, the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland and the continued subjugation of Palestinians by European Jews who had the financial and technological advantage.

While Zionists may have earlier entertained certain delusions in regards to the possible reaction of the Palestinians to the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestinian lands, they were soon rid of those delusions. The Jews had come to realize that their earlier belief that the Palestinians will allow them assume the governing of the land due to their advanced technological mastery was a fiction, they also came to realize that there will be no harmonious relationship with the Arabs if they ever embarked on achieving a Jewish state in their lands. If Jews wanted to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, they had to do it the old-fashion way; through the use of force. So just like their European counterparts who went to the Americas, conquered and subjugated the native population; killing many and putting the remainder in reservations, the Jews trod the same path. They carried out their conquest of Palestinian lands and invoked a tenuous historical right to the land. In 1948, they seized the land now referred to as Israel and in the six-day war and when the Arabs attempted to drive them out, they occupied parts of Jordan, Gaza, the west bank and the Golan Heights.

The apartheid and settler-colonial state of Israel

In Israel one sees true racism in practice, in fact Zionism; the dominant ideology in Israel has been described as being a racist, colonial ideology. When one observes the treatment of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, one cannot help but label what is going on as an iteration of apartheid and also as a form of settler colonialism.

In 1948 following the Israel-Palestinian war which led to the formation of the state of Israel, an upward of 700,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes and became refugees. They were displaced either directly or indirectly by Jewish forces which chased them out of their homes and villages, destroyed a multitude of homes, stole their livestock and other valuables, killed unarmed male citizens, raped Palestinian women and pillaged Palestinian land. The invading colonial Jews then instituted various laws to expropriate Palestinian land and prevent Palestinians from regaining their land; these laws included laws preventing Palestinians from returning back to their lands; referring to them as infiltrators, an absentee land law that declared any vacant land and house as belonging to the Israeli government, that is after chasing away the inhabitants and preventing them from returning. It also instituted a law of return whereby it allowed Jews all over the world to come to Israel and become citizens, giving them private Palestinian land and homes and renaming Palestinian neighborhoods. 

Israel did not grant citizenship status to Palestinians, rather it gave them the status of permanent residents, a status lower than citizenship. Israel also prevented spouses of Palestinians from occupied Palestinian territories and from other middle eastern territories from gaining permanent residency status severely impacting families negatively. Following the 6-day war it occupied Gaza and the west bank including east Jerusalem. In these territories, it continues to establish colonies on Palestinian land and devise ways of pushing Palestinians out of their land.  

Israel has adopted a system of violence and repression against the Palestinian people and international organizations such as the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and even several Israeli human rights organizations such as Yesh Din and B’Tselem have accused Israel of being an apartheid state. Their accusation is based on certain conditions prevalent in Israeli controlled society. 

In Israel there is the prevalence of a repressive permit system which has made life very unbearable for Palestinians. Palestinians require a permit for almost anything required for daily living; they require a permit of residence which is temporary and must be renewed regularly, they require a permit to build, a permit to own foreign currency, a permit to operate any medium of transportation including a donkey cart, a permit to possess any foreign publication, a permit to have any kind of rally or gathering that may have a political implication, a permit to install water and sewage systems in their homes, a permit to work… these permits are usually rarely given and have a lot of bureaucracy attached to them so that Palestinians have to spend a lot on paying brokers just to get these temporary permits for which there are severe laws penalizing a default. 

Israel has also established a two-tier system whereby Jews living in the occupied territories are subject to Israeli law and Palestinians in these territories are subject to martial law. There is also a restriction on movement of Palestinians as due to the building of walls and allocation of Palestinian enclaves, Palestinians are not allowed to freely move to other enclaves or to Israel proper without a permit. 

There are military checkpoints scattered across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, these checkpoints not only restrict the free movement of Palestinians, they also serve as points of discrimination against Palestinians. It is not uncommon for Israeli security officers to harass Palestinians, unlawfully detain them, shoot and sometimes kill unarmed Palestinians, torture Palestinians and use excessive force in their interactions with Palestinians. These security outfits are usually not punished for their punitive actions on Palestinians and even when sanctioned, the sanction is usually light and they tend to spend little or no time in jail or pay silly amounts as fines. These security men are often lauded as heroes by their fellow Israeli Jewish compatriots. This serves to create an air of impunity and a system where security officers regularly harass Palestinians.

Due to the fact that permits for building houses are rarely granted to Palestinians, a lot of them have built houses without permits and these houses are earmarked for destruction by the Israeli authorities, willfully ignoring its culpability, it sometimes follows through and destroys these houses. Israel also places a lot of restriction on the acquiring of houses by Palestinians either for housing or farming, while actively encouraging and giving incentives and loans to Jews enabling them to acquire land easily, it also finds any excuse to strip Palestinians of their hose and farms through various shady means; by restricting access to these lands, by declaring private Palestinian lands zones of security concerns and preventing Palestinians from using those lands while also freely giving these lands to Jews.

There is a disparity in infrastructure present in Palestinian and Jewish areas in favor of Jewish areas; many amenities such as schools, healthcare centers, sanitation systems, parks are in short supply in Palestinian neighborhoods. There is also the practice of erecting racially segregated neighborhoods and locales with Palestinians barred from assessing these locales.

Israel has blockaded Gaza and laid siege to it, it has prevented the entry of goods into Gaza thereby severely affecting its economy, it also restricts the amount of work permits it gives to Palestinians thereby affecting the income of Palestinians and has helped create a system of exploitation of Palestinian laborers. 

It has also detained a lot of Palestinians on the charge of being political and has established means to stifle and repress Palestinian reaction to their occupation. They break up protests by shooting teargas, using rubber coated steel bullets or even using live rounds, they also restrict permits to protesters and their families and also relatives of people that were killed by Israeli security outfits.

The Israeli government has also encouraged and condoned settler violence which usually involves attacks on Palestinians which are sometimes fatal and destruction of their properties, they have failed to adequately punish settlers and still fund the settler expansion. Even when illegal settlements are dismantled by security agencies, Israeli jews have a habit of attacking Palestinians in reprisal.

US support for Israeli actions

Some regard the United States as being a metropole in relation to Israel. The United States was among the first countries to recognize Israel as a state and since then Israel has remained the top recipient of US foreign aid. With access to US technology, finance and intel, Israel has survived and thrived as a nation; it is even a policy of the United States that Israel should possess a technological edge over its middle eastern neighbors. Another important support that US renders to Israel is its support of Israel in the international sphere; the US regularly vetoes any United Nation resolutions that condemn Israel or that recommends any action against Israel, half of the vetoes the US has ever used have been used in relation to Israel.

While many now regard any American talk of democracy, human rights, dictatorship and the likes as a ruse by the US to cover up their nefarious actions and intentions, it is interesting to note that the US actively supports and funds most of the activities it is want to preach against in Israel. Israel likes to regard itself as the only democracy in the middle east; a beacon of civility surrounded by the uncivilized Arabs, but that is just a ruse, just like the US which began as a settler colonial state and likes to regard itself as a beacon of democracy, Israel happens to be following in its footsteps.

But support for Israel in the United States is not unanimous, while some proponents will claim that Israel is an outpost of the American empire in the middle east and as such is vital to American foreign policy, others contend that Israel is no friend to the US. What is important to note is that Israel has a huge lobby in the US that sponsors and bribes US politicians, including its law makers and executives in other to drive US foreign policy in support of Israel and to send ever more increasing amount of money and military technology to Israel so that Israel can fight the Palestinian and Arab boogeymen. Israeli lobbies such as AIPAC pump a lot of money into funding politicians who support their policies, little wonder that Jews are accused of controlling US politics with funds. There are also various Jewish NGOs embedded in the various political parties who on a daily basis extol Israeli virtues in their fight against the evil Palestinians, who find ways to whitewash every Israeli action and villainize the Palestinians, who proclaim through even media handles, how Israel is a friend of America and how Americans should support the latest aid being sent for the defense of Israel. There is a sizable portion of the US government in all its layers who are dual citizens; are citizens of both the US and Israel and it is not uncommon to hear some of them claim that they owe their loyalty primarily to Israel.

There is an indication that the narrative regarding Israel is changing among the American populace, movements like the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) is gaining grounds, these movements aim to hold Israel accountable for its treatment of Palestinians by boycotting their goods and services, opposing US support of Israel and calling for sanctions on Israel. Some US politicians have also begun to voice out their condemnation of Israeli actions. Vocal support for Israeli actions among the political class has dropped as observed by several media outlets. Even polls taken among the American populace show that a large percentage of them are wary of American support for Israeli actions and some oppose it all together, many want the US to hold Israel accountable for its actions. It remains to be seen if there will eventually be a change in America’s policy in regards to Israel, for now Palestinians can only remain hopeful.

Emeasoba Uzonna Sylvester