Apartheid and the Future of Israel/Palestine

20 Sep


[Prefatory Note: There has been lots of discussion prompted by the release of a report jointly authored with Prof. Virginia Tilley, a study commissioned by the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), and given by us the title, “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid.” The interview, associated with my current visit to Belgium and France to speak on various aspects of the analysis and implications of the report, brings up to date the controversy generated at the UN by its release a few months ago, and by the willingness of the UN Secretary General to bow to U.S. pressure and order the removal of the report from ESCWA website. The interview questions were posed by veteran Middle East correspondent, Pierre Barbancey, and published in l’Humanité, Sept. 6, 2017.]






The Report was commissioned by the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia in 2016 at the request of its Council, which has a membership of 18 Arab states. Professor Virginia Tilley and I were offered a contract to prepare a report on the applicability of the crime of apartheid to the manner in which Israeli policies and practices affected the Palestinian people as a whole, and not as in previous discussions of the applicability of apartheid, only to those Palestinians living since 1967 under Israeli occupation. The originality of the Report is to extend the notion of apartheid beyond the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and investigate its applicability to Palestinians living in refugee camps in neighboring countries, to those Palestinians enduring involuntary exile abroad, and to those existing as a discriminated minority in Israel.


2) What are the conclusions of the ESCWA Report?


The most important conclusion of the Report was that by careful consideration of the relevant evidence, Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid as defined in the 1976 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid with regard to the Palestinian PEOPLE AS A WHOLE, that is, Palestinians living under occupation as refugee and in involuntary exile, and as a minority in Israel are all victimized by the overriding crime. The Report also found that Jews and Palestinians both qualify as a ‘race’ as the term is used in the Convention, and that Israel to sustain a Jewish state established by ‘inhuman acts’ a structure of oppressive and discriminatory domination by which the Palestinians were victimized as a people.


A second conclusion of importance is that the Rome Statute governing the International Criminal Court considers apartheid to be one type of ‘crime against humanity,’ which does not necessarily exhibit the same features as pertained to the apartheid regime in South Africa, the origin of the concept and crime, but not a template for its subsequent commission.


A third conclusion is that given the existence of apartheid, sustained to maintain a Jewish state in Palestine, all sovereign states, the UN, and civil society all have a legally grounded responsibility to take all reasonable steps of a nonviolent character to bring the commission of the crime to an end.


A fourth conclusion is that the Report is an academic study that draws conclusions and offers recommendation on the basis of a legal analysis, but it is not a duly constituted legal body empowered to make formal findings with respect to the allegations that Israel is guilty of apartheid.






We experienced two contradictory sets of reactions.


From ESCWA the report was received with enthusiasm. We were told it was the most important report that ESCWA had ever published, with by far the largest number of requests for copies.


At the UN, the report and its authors were strongly attacked by the diplomatic representatives of the United States and Israel, with the demand the UN acted to repudiate the report. The Secretary General instructed the Director of ESCWA to remove the report from its website, and when she refusing, she tendered her principled resignation explained in an Open Letter to the Secretary General. It should be appreciated that this was an academic report of international law experts, and never claimed to be an official reflection of UN views. A disclaimer at the outset of the Report made this clear.




The status of the report within ESCWA is not clear. As far as I know the report itself has not been repudiated by ESCWA. In fact, it has been endorsed in a formal decision of the 18 foreign ministers of the ESCWA countries, including a recommendation to other organs of the UN System that the findings and recommendations of the Report be respected. Beyond this, the report has altered the discourse in civil society and to some extent, in diplomatic settings, making the terminology of ‘apartheid’ increasingly displace the emphasis on ‘occupation.’





This is an inappropriate and even absurd allegation. The BDS Campaign is directed against Israeli policies and practices that violate international law and cause great suffering to be inflicted on the Palestinian people. It has nothing whatsoever to do with hostility to Jews as persons or as a people. The allegation is clearly designed to discredit BDS and to discourage persons from lending it support or participating in its activities. It is an unfortunate and irresponsible use of the ‘anti-Semitic’ label designed to manipulate public opinion and government policy, and inhibit activism.




I know there have been efforts in Europe and North America to criminalize support for BDS, but so far as I know, no formal laws have yet been brought into existence, and no indictments or prosecutions, outside of Israel and France, have taken place. I am not entire clear as to what has happened in Israel along these lines, although I know that Israel has been denying BDS supporters from abroad entry into the country.




My experience as UN Special Rapporteur in Occupied Palestine on behalf of the Human Rights Council was both frustrating and fulfilling. It was frustrating because during my six years as SR the situation on the ground and diplomatically worsened for the Palestinian people despite the documented record of Israeli human rights abuses. It was fulfilling because it enabled a forthright presentation of Israeli violations of basic Palestinian rights, which had some influence on the discourse within the UN, building support for corporate responsibility in relation to commercial dealing with Israel’s unlawful settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as shifted some of the discourse within the UN from ‘occupation’ to ‘settler colonialism’ and ‘apartheid.’


It was also something of a personal ordeal as I was constantly subject to defamatory attacks by UN Watch and other ultra Zionist NGOs and their supporters, also organizing efforts to have me dismissed from my UN position and barred from lecturing on university campuses around the world. Fortunately, these efforts failed by and large, but they did have the intended effect of shifting the conversation from substance to auspices, from the message to messenger.



The1947 partition resolution [GA Res. 181] was part of the exit strategy of the British colonial administration in the mandate period that controlled Palestine after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the conclusion of World War I. This approach was flawed in several basic respects: it neglected the will of the majority Arab and non-Jewish domestic population, and imposed a solution to the conflict without consulting the inhabitants; it also within its own terms failed to secure Palestinian rights or its sovereign political community, or even to uphold international humanitarian law. The UN never effectively implemented partition, and thus gave Israel the de facto discretion to impose its will on the entire territory of Palestine, including the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in the 1947 War, which overcame the demographic imbalance, and allowed itself to be branded to this day as ‘a democracy,’ even being hailed as ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’ The US and Europe played a crucial geopolitical role in producing these developments, which rested on an Orientalist mentality lingering in the West.



It is difficult to envision the future at this stage, yet it is clear that the Palestinian national struggle is continuing both in the form of Palestinian resistance activities and by way of the international solidarity movement, of which the BDS Campaign is

by far the most important undertaking. In my judgment until there is exerted enough pressure on the Israeli government to change course drastically, signaled by a willingness to dismantle the laws and procedures associated with the current apartheid regime used to subjugate the Palestinian people, there is no genuine prospect for a political solution to the conflict. Such a change of course in South Africa occurred, against all expectations at home and abroad, and partly in response to pressures generated by this earlier version of an international BDS campaign. My hope is that as the Palestinian people continue to win the ongoing Legitimacy War, this pattern will eventually be repeated, leading after a prolonged struggle to a sustainable peace between these two peoples based on the cardinal principle of equality. This will not happen, tragically, until there is much suffering endured, especially by Palestinians living under occupation, in refugee camps and involuntary exile, and as a discriminated minority within Israel. This Palestinian ordeal has gone on far too long. Its origins can be traced back at least a century ago when in an undisguised colonial gesture of the British Foreign Office pledged its support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in historic Palestine to the World Zionist Movement in the form of the Balfour Declaration (1917). The competing national narratives of what transpired over the subsequent century tell different stories, each with an authentic base of support in the relevant community, but only the Palestine narrative can gain present comfort from the guidelines of international law, above all, the inalienable right of self-determination



20 Responses to “Apartheid and the Future of Israel/Palestine”

  1. Beau Oolayforos September 22, 2017 at 12:09 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    Certainly, your hope is our hope, that as the Palestinians gradually win Legitimacy, that the apartheid structures will crumble. And as the two-state model risks becoming increasingly untenable, people will look to O. Barghouti’s and others’ vision of a unified, pluralistic, and truly democratic state.

    Another nation that has been awaiting justice for at least a century are the Kurds. If memory serves, they were promised something in the Treaty of Versailles. And now, as they near an independence referendum, so many people are hollering “Wait! Not now!” Since Official Israel is actively supporting independence, perhaps they should be reminded of the parallels.

    • Laurie Knightly September 23, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

      Beau, I think you are referring to Treaty of Lausanne…..

      • Richard Falk September 25, 2017 at 2:49 am #

        Actually, Laurie, I think it was the earlier Treaty of Sevres, but I may be wrong as I am relying on my porous
        memory while ‘on the road.’ With greetings, Richard

      • Laurie Knightly September 25, 2017 at 7:28 am #

        Yes, they were included in the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 but lost out in the replacement Treaty of Lausanne 1923. Ataturk…..

    • Mike Thompson October 9, 2017 at 7:16 am #

      Actually, Beau, In 1924 Britain, France and Turkey (Tzarist Russia had gone!) were conducting talks to define the post WW1 borders.

      All the borders we see today were imposed by Britain and France, Kurdistan was always a separate Viliyet (Region) of the Ottoman Empire.

      They all wanted complete control of Kurdistan (which would have been better for the Kurd`s) instead the compromise was to take a third each irritating the Kurd`s of course.

      Part of the selfish interests of Britain particularly, where artificial countries were created with compliant Arab puppet leaders doing as they were told.

      It was chaos from the beginning, it still is!

      P.S. If it`s a Kingdom, it`s a British creation.

  2. Laurie Knightly September 23, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

    Since the ESCWA report, the label ‘apartheid’ has become much more prevalent when discussing the disgraceful situation of Palestine’s indigenous population. This is a very positive sign. Whereas a backlash has occurred, it reveals the subterfuge necessary to defend Zionism and its repercussions. In 7} of this essay, Falk states that the conversation moved from substance to auspices, message to messenger. Auspices? I’d say moved from substance to abstruseness.

    As the 100th anniversary of the Balfour approaches, the British not only refuse to recant in any way but are renewing their vows in Israel with Lord Roderick Balfour, the 5th Earl of Balfour who ‘reminisced fondly’ regarding his ancestor’s ingratiating letter. The British Foreign Office stated that it does not intend to apologize for the Balfour Declaration [as has been suggested] but that they are “proud of our role in creating the state of Israel. The task is now to encourage moves toward peace.” No call for justice….. Peace means total Palestinian submission – which is very peaceful.

  3. Kata Fisher September 24, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

    Professor Falk, I am Afraid that Current nationalist self-determinations will come to nothing. In addition to that, also will cause grave problems for the future of those people’s/ people’s tribes. They have to have be moving in self-determinations, but something has to be moving for them,too. At least they must have Special Rapporteur/s and also most have to be doing their change / pursuits in Juridic Person. After all they must accomplish something that should we lastingly worth-while. Otherwise they will accomplish evil, and future will bring regretful dooms. Also, do you know how would 21 century be if all systems would become diplomacies? Possibly legit democracies? I had reflection anout that — but I do not understand any further on that.

    • Richard Falk September 25, 2017 at 2:53 am #


      This is not a coherent comment. I am sure you have something relevant on your mind, but
      it does not come across. Think of your readers so that they might understand more clearly
      what it is you are trying to express.

  4. ray032 September 30, 2017 at 9:08 am #

    I came across new perspectives Today.

    A Jewish atonement for Zionism

    “Not by Might, nor by Power”: The Zionist Betrayal of Judaism
    By Moshe Menuhin. (1893-1983)
    Originally published as The Decadence of Judaism in Our Time, Exposition Press, 1965;

    Not by Might, nor by Power is a methodical and chronological (and to a significant extent autobiographical) survey of Jewish nationalism, beginning with its various manifestations throughout biblical and post-biblical history, and including its modern incarnation – Zionism – an offshoot of 19th century European political nationalism.

    Menuhin devotes the majority of the book to the presentation of historical information peppered with pertinent quotes from Zionist and other world leaders, which reveal a premeditated and systematic plan for the Jewish colonization of the land known then as Palestine – now Israel – alongside a brutal ethnic cleansing of its indigenous people – the Palestinians.

    Not by Might, nor by Power is an act of dissent born of pain, love, outrage, shame and a fundamentally Jewish desire for atonement.

    Then he said to me, this is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 4:6)

    Moshe did his own Aliyah and time in Palestine from 1904-1913. and lived through the beginnings of political Zionism, soon becoming an ardent anti-Zionist. He was one of the 1st to be labelled a “self-hating Jew.”

    Below is the long link to the sample Introduction, Preface, and Part 1 from Amazon & Kindle

    Mondoweiss Review

  5. truthaholics October 3, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    “The competing national narratives of what transpired over the subsequent century tell different stories, each with an authentic base of support in the relevant community, but only the Palestine narrative can gain present comfort from the guidelines of international law, above all, the inalienable right of self-determination”

  6. Saul Davis October 27, 2017 at 2:05 am #

    Thank you for your article full of important information regarding the situation with Israel and Palestine. Cannot but point out the irony of a committee with 18 Arab state all of them known to have internalised racist policies and laws. Bahrain is a Sunni monarchy with a Shiite majority population. The Christian (Coptic) minority of Egypt have suffered from poverty and discrimination for years. Iraq is a fully fledged apartheid state compromised of Shiite, Sunni and non-Arab Kurds. Although Palestinians are the majority ethnic group in Jordanian, the indigenous Bedouin control the country and the monarch is an outsider. Kuwait discriminates against its Bedouin/nomadic population and mistreats foreign workers, in 1991 200,000 Palestinians fled or were forced out. In Lebanon an apartheid system is enshrined in law with a split of power between the three main competing ethnic groups, there were horrific civil wars in this country on an ethic basis and the sizeable Palestinian population are denied basic rights including citizenship. I leave others to comment of the state of human rights and the deeply engrained racism in countries such as Libya, Mauritania, , Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. I have not even mentioned the status and discrimination against women in these countries (cannot say any more that Saudi women are denied driving licences because in 2017 they were allowed to get them). Israel has a poor record in the Territories i just find it ridiculous that 18 racist discriminatory countries dare criticise others.

    • Richard Falk October 27, 2017 at 7:54 am #

      You raise an important issue, but it has pertained to almost every international human rights
      and self-determination campaign, including the UN anti-apartheid campaign, not to mention the original
      adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In any event thanks for your comment.

      • ray032 October 27, 2017 at 8:19 am #

        How TIMELY!!! Getting NOTICE Today, of Saul’s comment, and your reply. I received this NOTICE right after.

        Will Netanyahu risk exposing Israel’s ugliest secret?
        27 October 2017

        New law would define Israel as belonging to a global Jewish nation rather than its citizens, ending any pretence it is a liberal democracy, say experts

        Middle East Eye – 27 October 2017

        As Israeli legislators returned to parliament this week, ending the long summer recess, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government announced a packed agenda of reforms designed to push Israel yet further to the right.

        Legislative proposals include weakening the supreme court’s powers of judicial review, cracking down on left-wing civil-society organisations, expanding Jerusalem’s boundaries to include more Jewish settlements, and allowing the forcible deportation of mainly African asylum seekers.

        But none is likely to prove as controversial – or gain as much attention – as a measure concerning Israel’s status as a Jewish state.

        This long-gestating bill is intended to join 11 existing Basic Laws, Israel’s equivalent of a constitution. Netanyahu appears to be basing his wider legislative assault on the success of the proposed Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish people.

        Its purpose is to give a constitutional-like standing to Israel’s definition as a state that belongs not to its citizens – as is the case in a liberal democracy – but to all Jews around the world, including those with no connection to Israel.

        Additionally, the bill is expected to downgrade the status of Arabic, the mother tongue of a fifth of Israel’s population. It will also require the Israeli courts to give due weight in their rulings to Jewish religious law and Jewish heritage.
        The legislation’s opponents

        Basic Laws are much harder to reverse than ordinary legislation. Various versions of the Jewish nation-state bill have been under consideration since a first draft was introduced in 2011 by Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police.

        But after eight years as prime minister, Netanyahu appears impatient for progress. He insisted in May that the legislation must pass as soon as possible. A special committee has been hastily drafting a final version in the past few weeks.

        Opposition to the bill comes from three quarters in parliament, each with very different concerns.

        The first is the Joint List, a coalition of parties representing Israel’s large minority of Palestinian citizens – one in five of the population – who are the chief targets of the proposed legislation. However, their voice carries no weight in either the parliament or the government.

        The second group are the small hardline religious parties in the coalition government, who have always had an ambivalent, if not hostile, attitude toward Israel as a state. They believe that Jews can be sovereign only when the Messiah reveals himself. In practice, however, if the legislation is carefully phrased, these parties may not put up much resistance.

        Most troublesome for Netanyahu is likely to be the antipathy from the centre-left parties on the opposition benches, especially the former Labour party, now rebranded as Zionist Union. Most of its legislators reject the proposed Basic Law – but not necessarily because they disagree with its provisions.
        A long-standing deception revealed

        The Zionist Union’s attitudes towards the Jewish nation-state bill are complex. They are rooted in the party’s role in founding Israel as a Jewish state in 1948, on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland.

        According to Mohammed Zeidan, director of the Nazareth-based Human Rights Association, an advocacy group for Israel’s Palestinian citizens, Labour’s leaders, especially the nation’s father, David Ben Gurion, carefully crafted Israel’s image in a way that would hoodwink most outside observers into believing it was a western-style liberal democracy.

        “The goal of the state’s founders was to conceal the structural discrimination,” he told Middle East Eye. “The mistake was to believe that a Jewish state can be a democratic one, and that it can uphold universal values and rights.”

        In the centre-left’s view, Netanyahu’s Basic Law risks pulling the veil off that immensely successful deception.

        In fact, tellingly, the chief objections from the centre-left to Netanyahu’s Basic Law are not that the measure is immoral or undemocratic in denying Israel’s 1.7 million Palestinians equal status with Jewish citizens but rather that it is “unnecessary”, “superfluous” or “gratuitous”.
        Who does Israel belong to?

        In 2014, when a draft of the legislation was brought before the parliament, the then-leader of Zionist Union, Isaac Herzog, observed: “Only a prime minister lacking in self-confidence, without a vision and a plan, needs laws that deal with the obvious, that will not improve any Israeli citizens’ lives.”

        Similarly, Israel’s liberal Haaretz newspaper has called the legislation “completely redundant”. Abraham Foxman, as head of the New York-based Israel lobby group the Anti-Defamation League, labelled it “well-meaning but unnecessary”.

        In other words, the ideological successors to Israel’s founding generation reject the Basic Law not because it will fundamentally alter Israel’s character, but because it risks dragging its ugliest secret – well-concealed for nearly seven decades – into the bright light of day.

        They fear that the Israeli far-right will show Israel’s hand by clearly codifying its status as a state belonging to, and privileging, Jews around the world rather than to its own citizenry, which includes a large proportion of Palestinians.
        One law for Jews, another for Arabs

        It is important to understand how Israel’s founders deliberately obfuscated the apartheid-like legal and administrative structures they created to appreciate why so much is at stake for today’s centre-left.

        Israel’s Declaration of Independence, published at the state’s creation in May 1948, was effectively a sophisticated exercise in public relations. It famously promised to “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex”.

        But, Zeidan said, for many decades Israel has avoided enshrining the principle of equality in any of the Basic Laws. Instead, it has embedded inequality at a foundational level – in Israel’s citizenship legislation.

        What is most noticeable is that Israel has two citizenship laws. These confer different rights, based on whether a citizen is Jewish or not. In the United States in the mid-1950s, in the midst of the civil rights struggle, the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision that “separate is inherently unequal” – and so it has proved in Israel too.

        Israel’s Law of Return of 1950 opened the door to all Jews around the world, allowing mass Jewish immigration. Any Jew who landed in Israel could instantly receive citizenship, as many hundreds of thousands of Jews did during the next seven decades.
        Perpetual Jewish majority

        But Israel wanted exactly the opposite outcome for Palestinians. The result? It created a separate law, the Citizenship Law of 1952, for non-Jews. Its primary purpose was to strip the right to return home from the 750,000 Palestinians expelled by Israel four years earlier, during the Nakba, the Arabic word for “catastrophe”.

        Longer term, however, the Citizenship Law was designed to guarantee a large perpetual Jewish majority by blocking access to citizenship for non-Jews.

        Today, there is only one path by which a non-Jew can gain citizenship in Israel – by marriage to an Israeli citizen. This exception is allowed because only a few dozen non-Jews qualify each year, thereby posing no threat to Israel’s Jewishness.

        Under legal challenge, Israel passed an amendment to the Citizenship Law in 2003 to ensure that the vast majority of Palestinians in the occupied territories, and Arabs from many neighbouring states, cannot qualify for Israeli residency or citizenship under the marriage provision.

        The Law of Return and the Citizenship Law are two of nearly 70 Israeli laws – the number is growing – that explicitly discriminate based on whether a citizen is Jewish or Palestinian. A legal group, Adalah, representing Israel’s Palestinian citizens, has compiled a database of such measures.
        State-sanctioned racism

        But Netanyahu’s Basic Law threatens to expose the deeper significance of this bifurcated citizenship structure.

        Israel’s 1.7 million Palestinian citizens, observed Zeidan, are discriminated against in a way that goes beyond that practiced against minorities in democratic states: that is, by the arbitrary, informal or unregulated decisions of officials and state bodies. In such democracies, officials are usually breaking the law when they discriminate against minority groups.

        But in Israel, Zeidan pointed out, “officials are often breaking the law if they do not discriminate. It is their job to discriminate.”

        This state-sanctioned racism is achieved by establishing “nationalities” separate from citizenship. The primary nationalities in Israel are “Jew” and “Arab”. The state has refused to recognise an “Israeli nationality”, a position supported by the Israeli supreme court, precisely to sanction a hierarchy of rights.

        Individual rights are enjoyed by all citizens by virtue of their citizenship, whether they are Jews or Palestinians. In this regard, Israel looks like a liberal democracy. But Israel also recognises “national rights”, and reserves them almost exclusively for the Jewish population.

        National rights are treated as superior to individual citizenship rights. So if there is a conflict between the two, the Jewish national right will invariably be given priority by officials and the courts.
        National rights trump citizenship

        How this hierarchy of rights works in practice is neatly illustrated by Israel’s citizenship structure. The Law of Return establishes a national right for all Jews to gain instant citizenship – as well as the many other rights that derive from citizenship.

        The Citizenship Law, on the other hand, creates only an individual citizenship right for non-Jews. Israel’s Palestinian minority can pass their citizenship “downwards” to offspring but cannot extend it “outwards”, as a Jew can, to members of their extended family – in this case, the millions of Palestinians who were made refugees by Israel in 1948 and their descendants.

        This privileging of Jewish national rights is equally clear in the way Israel treats its most precious material resources: land and water.

        The commercial exploitation of these key resources is treated effectively as a national right, reserved for Jews only. In practice, noted Sawsan Zaher, a lawyer with Adalah, access to these resources is restricted to Jews through hundreds of rural communities across Israel, including the best-known – the kibbutz.

        These rural communities are the places where Israel has made available vast swaths of land and offers subsidised water. As a result, almost all commercial agriculture and much industry is located in these communities.
        Arabs ‘socially unsuitable’

        But these resources can be exploited only by the Jewish population because each community is governed by an Admissions Committee, which blocks entry to Israel’s Palestinian citizens on the grounds that they are “socially unsuitable”.

        “The committees govern entry to 550 communities in Israel, ensuring that the resources they control are available only to their Jewish populations,” Zaher told MEE. “These committees are one link in a chain of racist policies, segregation and exclusion by the state towards Palestinian citizens.”

        The primary purpose of these rural communities is to enforce Israel’s “nationalisation” of 93 percent of its territory. This land is “nationalised” not for Israeli citizens – as no Israeli nationality is recognised – but for a global Jewish nation.

        Meanwhile, the fifth of the population who are Palestinian are confined to less than three percent of Israeli territory, after most of their lands were confiscated by the state and are now held in trust for Jews around the world.

        No new Palestinian community has been built since Israel’s creation 70 years ago, while dozens of Palestinian villages have been “unrecognised” by a 1965 Planning and Building Law. The 120,000 inhabitants of these villages, criminalised by this planning law, cannot build a home legally and are denied public services.
        ‘Landlords’ of Israel

        Observers say that Netanyahu’s Basic Law risks exploding a seven-decade-old myth about Israel: that it is a liberal democracy where Israeli citizens, Jews and Palestinians alike, enjoy equal rights.

        The combination of the Law of Return, which entitles all Jews around the world to instant Israeli citizenship, and Israel’s land laws, which reserve ultimate ownership to Jews as a global nation, has emptied citizenship of its accepted meaning.

        Instead, according to Israel’s existing legal structure, the state belongs to Jews collectively around the world rather than to the country’s citizenry. The Jewish state is “owned” by world Jewry, even if many individual Jews have failed to actualise their citizenship by coming to live in Israel.

        As Israeli scholars have noted, Israel should be classified not as a liberal democracy but as a fundamentally non-democratic state called an ethnocracy.

        Ariel Sharon, a famous general and later a prime minister, once described world Jewry as the “landlords” of Israel. That leaves Palestinian citizens, one in five of the population, as little more than resident aliens or temporary guest workers, on licence so long as they do not threaten the state’s Jewishness.
        Real danger of the Basic Law

        Israel’s modern centre-left, Ben Gurion’s heirs, rightly fear that Netanyahu and the far-right are about to air Israel’s very dirtiest secret in public. Their Basic Law will reduce a complex and opaque system of laws and practices to one simple and easily intelligible Basic Law that may evoke comparisons with apartheid-era South Africa.

        Or as Zaher observed, if Netanyahu’s Basic Law is passed, it will “send a clear and dangerous political message to Palestinian citizens of Israel that you are not wanted, that you are not equal citizens, that, in fact, the state is not yours”.

        Today’s far-right cares much less about world opinion than Israel’s founders did. In their zealotry, they wish to eradicate the last hold-outs among the liberal Jewish establishment – such as the supreme court, civil society and parts of the media – so that they can advance their more aggressive brand of Zionism, launch a new wave of anti-democratic legislation and intensify the settlement project.

        The real danger of Netanyahu’s Basic Law is not that it will change what Israel is, warned Zeidan. “What it does instead is provide a much more solid platform for what the far-right in Israel intends to come next.”


  7. ray032 November 1, 2017 at 6:29 am #

    Richard, I would expect you have seen the report submitted by your successor as Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Rights under the Israeli Military Dictatorship in the Occupied territories. He has been barred entry as you were.

    ‘UN rapporteur urges sanctions on Israel for driving Palestinians ‘back to the dark ages’

    The “duration of this occupation is without precedent or parallel in today’s world,” the report said. Israel has “driven Gaza back to the dark ages” due to denial of water and electricity and freedom of movement. There is a “darkening stain” on the world’s legal framework because other countries have treated the occupation as normal, and done nothing to resist Israel’s “colonial ambition par excellence,” which includes two sets of laws for Israelis and Palestinians………………………………………………………………………………


  8. ray032 November 2, 2017 at 5:35 am #

    I can’t imaging the daily humiliation Palestinian workers have to endure to feed their their families.
    Having to go through cattle herding like that every Day to build Jewish Settler homes on Palestinian land must compound that humiliation. Especially when their homes are demolished for any renovations done without an Israeli permit rarely given to Palestinians.

    Anyone with the slightest notion of Common Humanity would hate having to do that every Day just to go to work for lower pay. This is only 1 checkpoint out of many more just like it.

  9. Jimmy May 13, 2018 at 7:27 pm #

    Thank you for showing the courage to speak out against what Israel is doing. The world might care if enough of the world found out. Thanks

    • Richard Falk May 13, 2018 at 10:09 pm #

      Thanks for your affirming words. I would like to believe that such
      caring would follow awareness.


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