Opinion |

We Can Keep Lying to Ourselves on 'Apartheid,' but Israel Has Crossed the Line

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Israeli soldiers stand next to burning tires as Palestinians take part in an anti-Israel protest over tension in Jerusalem, in Hebron, this week.
Israeli soldiers stand next to burning tires as Palestinians take part in an anti-Israel protest over tension in Jerusalem, in Hebron, this week.Credit: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Human Rights Watch, one of the most well-regarded human rights organizations, has stated that Israel has crossed the line and is guilty of committing crimes against humanity and of being an apartheid regime.

It’s possible of course to argue endlessly about Benjamin Netanyahu, to warn with great pathos about the terrible damage to Israel’s renowned democracy and its rule of law. We can continue to play with ourselves, enjoy life and lie as we please. But when the reports pile up – in January it was one by Israel’s B’Tselem, and now by America’s HRW – one cannot continue to claim that the spit aimed at our faces is rain. Spit is spit. It obligates Israelis with a conscience to think about the country in which they live, and obligates governments to ask themselves if they will continue to embrace a country with such a regime.

The Foreign Ministry can excoriate the report published Tuesday as much as it wants – accusing HRW of being anti-Israel and antisemitic, and calling its claims “preposterous and false.” It can continue to ask about Syria, forgetting that no one embraces Syria the way they embrace Israel. Israeli media outlets can continue to belittle the report’s value or ignore its existence to please their customers. But in the end, something is happening in front of our closed eyes. The illusion of the occupation’s transience is fading, and the false charm of Israel as a democracy will be shattered.

There’s no longer any way to challenge the diagnosis of apartheid. Only lying propagandists can claim that Israel is a democracy when millions of people have been living in it for decades under one of the most tyrannical military regimes in the world. Neither is there any way to avoid the fact that all three elements of apartheid under the The Hague’s Rome Statute, which are described in the HRW report, exist in Israel: maintaining the domination of one racial group over another, systematic oppression of the marginalized group, and inhumane acts.

What exactly doesn’t exist in the Jewish supremacy regime in the land of Israel? There is no systematic oppression? No domination? No inhumane acts? They happen every night, even if there is no one to report it and no one who wants to know about it. And who can argue anymore that the occupation is merely defensive and its end is on the horizon, without bursting into laughter? If it’s not temporary and not equitable, then what is it, if not apartheid? We don’t need B’Tselem or HRW to know that.

But the world needs them. Someone has to wake the world from its moral slumber and rescue it from its comfort zone, in which Israel is its darling that can never be harmed, the West’s forward outpost against the Islamic barbarians.

Joe Biden’s America is starting to show signs of distancing itself from Israel, but that might turn out to be merely distancing itself from Netanyahu. When the Satan goes, America may once again embrace Israel and bring it to another useless “peace process.” Western Europe, whose governments are yearning for a green light from the United States to implement what large parts of their public want – to uphold international law and punish those who violate it – is still burdened by guilty feelings and has yielded to the Zionist lobby’s new international definition of antisemitism, which criminalizes any strong criticism of the occupation.

But when important international organizations assert what has long been reality, that Israel is indeed an apartheid state, they can no longer look away in Washington, Berlin, Paris and London. Someone there also must ask: Are we permitted to deal with the second apartheid state with the same tools used against the first? Why not? Because the whites here are Jews? Because there was a Holocaust? What difference does it make?

B’Tselem and HRW are the swallows heralding the coming of autumn, or rather, spring. It will come when they understand in Tel Aviv that we live in an apartheid state, and when Washington draws the inevitable conclusions.



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