Perspectives-Winter 2022-1

“Apartheid” is a controversial word when it comes to contemporary discussions of Israel. It wouldn’t be surprising to encounter a litany of hurriedly offered reasons why the concept is not applicable to the country’s circumstances on the improbable occasion the topic does come up in polite, pro-Israel company. And it’s not difficult to understand why Israel’s supporters are made uncomfortable by the term. A system of rule that is inherently unequal and discriminatory is anathema to a free and democratic society. Systematic inequality and discrimination should not be permitted, much less condoned, in a civilized, enlightened country that espouses democratic ideals. Since its founding in 1948, Israel has maintained a parliamentary democracy as its system of government. Yet, it has become impossible to argue that Israeli policies governing Jewish settler and Palestinian communities in the West Bank are appropriately equal, fair, or just. In fact, the disparity is quite striking. And that’s not just a fringe opinion. IS ISRAEL AN APARTHEID STATE? CALLING IT WHAT IT IS “For over half a century, Israel has ruled over the occupied Palestinian territories with a two-tiered legal system, in which, within the same tract of land in the West Bank, Israeli settlers live under Israeli civil law while Palestinians live under military law. This system is one of inherent inequality… Settlements are built and expanded at the expense of Palestinian communities, which are forced onto smaller and smaller tracts of land.” If you’re expecting these words to be ascribed to some radical, far-left activist group, you’re in for a surprise. These words, published on an independent South African news blog, belong to former senior members of Israel’s foreign service. And not just any senior members. They belong to Ilan Baruch and Alon Liel. Dr. Liel happens to be a former Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And both men have observed first-hand the results of apartheid laws and Do West Bank Policies Amount to Apartheid in Israel? FORMER AMBASSADORS CALL IT LIKE THEY SEE IT PERSPECTIVES • THE MAGAZINE OF PROMISED LAND MUSEUM 8