B’Tselem’s new report “This is Apartheid,” asks Israelis to confront a painful reality that Palestinians have lived and described for decades. Those who think it’s easier to look away or blame the messenger are mistaken. The faster that Israelis face up to what they are doing and what is being done in their names, the faster the injustice can be brought to an end. The word apartheid evokes revulsion, as it should. There are undoubtedly differences between the apartheid regime in South Africa and Israel, but the thread that connects them is undeniable.
In recent years, the veneer of the situation being just “temporary” has worn off. Instead, Israeli officials have turned to rhetoric blaming Palestinians for their indefinite fate. Israel patently denies its obligations to millions of Palestinians living under occupation and faces almost no accountability from the international community for severe human rights violations, and even war crimes.
Human rights violations are not an accidental outcome of the conflict. They are a tool to further entrench control over land and create a demographic reality that ostensibly benefits Israel. As Gisha has warned, one of the primary ways that Israel furthers its control is via the fragmentation of Palestinians, one from another in the region and from the diaspora, achieved through severe and sweeping restrictions on freedom of movement. Israel’s effort to isolate Gaza and separate it from the West Bank, for example, formally called the “Separation Policy,” drives families apart, and undermines livelihoods and well-being. Over time, the policy has engineered a new territorial reality, with Israel and the West Bank as one entity, still with a Jewish majority, as long as Gaza and its two million residents are kept out of “the equation.” On a daily basis, Palestinians experience the pain and hardship that result. A better future for all in the region can only be based on the values of equality and justice.