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Israel Apartheid Comparisons: 7 Noteworthy Quotes

Image: Israel Apartheid Comparisons: 7 Noteworthy Quotes
The Palestinian West bank city of Abu Dis is seen near the Israeli separation barrier on September 12, 2014. (Ahmed Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 19 Dec 2014 07:45 PM

Throughout the year politicians and advocates of disparate backgrounds have expressed varied viewpoints on the Israel apartheid analogy that some people assert has drawn similarities to Israel’s policy decisions to those of South Africa decades ago.

Israeli leaders have created an identification system along the West Bank that has resulted in inequities in infrastructure, land and resource access, job availability, and legal rights for persons of Palestinian descent occupying the country.

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Proponents generally link Israel’s hard-line stance as one that defends the country’s borders of opposing forces. Other people, including author Thomas Mitchell, question whether links should be drawn to Israel’s decisions and those of South Africa’s treatment of nonwhite persons during its own apartheid era that ended in the 1980s with Nelson Mandela’s leadership.

"'Apartheid' is rapidly become the new political term of condemnation and delegitimization in international politics," Mitchell wrote in an opinion piece in 972 Magazine. “But is it truly the best description of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians?”

While the term “apartheid” is relatively new in discussing Israeli politics, the country’s past leaders have offered statements that defend current policy decisions.

“If we do not do all kinds of work, easy and hard, skilled and unskilled, if we become merely landlords, then this will not be our homeland,” said David Ben-Gurion, one of Israel’s founders, who died in 1973.

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Johannesburg-based journalist Benjamin Pogrund has also publicly decried the controversial statement in The Daily Beast.

“Use of the word apartheid in the world has broadened and softened, referring to just about anything that means separation,” Pogrund wrote in July.

But there are other people who have gone on record and criticized Israel’s decisions, asserting current actions are akin to those of an apartheid state. One such person is Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

“I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces,” Tutu is quoted as saying in an article in the Jerusalem Post.

Former U.S. presidential hopeful John Kerry brought the “apartheid” term into the spotlight when he made a leaked statement that said Israel ran the risk of becoming a state similar to what South Africa had been up until the early 1980s.

“If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming an apartheid state,” Kerry is quoted as saying in April in his role as U.S. secretary of state.

Noam Chomsky, an American linguist, philosopher, and cognitive scientist, is another outspoken critic of Israel’s existing policies. In August, Chomsky stated Israel’s actions on the Palestinians are “much worse than apartheid.”


Saree Makdisi, a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, is the author of “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.” Makdisi also has criticized Israeli policy.

“The question is not whether the term ‘apartheid’ applies here,” Makdisi wrote in an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times. “It is why it should cause such an outcry when it is used.”

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Throughout the year politicians and advocates of disparate backgrounds have expressed varied viewpoints on the Israel apartheid analogy that some people assert has drawn similarities to Israel's policy decisions to those of South Africa decades ago.
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Friday, 19 Dec 2014 07:45 PM
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