Pindostan demands UN pull report accusing Israel of apartheid
Times of Israel, Mar 15 2017
Pindostan on Wednesday demanded that UN Sec-Gen Guterres withdraw a report by a UN body accusing Israel of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians and of racially dominating them. Guterres distanced himself from the report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), but Pindo Ambassador Nikki Haley said it should be scrapped altogether. Haley in a statement:
Pindostan is outraged by the report. The UN secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether. That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising.
Based in Beirut, ESCWA is comprised of 18 Arab countries, according to its website, which lists the state of Palestine as a full member, and works to strengthen cooperation and promote development. Haley has accused the UN of being biased against Israel, and has vowed as Pres Trump’s envoy to staunchly defend Israel at the world body. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said:
The report as it stands does not reflect the views of the secretary-general and was done without consultations with the UN secretariat.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon slammed the commission for releasing the report, which accuses Israel of establishing “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.” Danon said in reference to ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian national:
It comes as no surprise that an organization headed by an individual who has called for boycotts against Israel, and compared our democracy to the most terrible regimes of the twentieth century, would publish such a report. This attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie. Richard Falk is a man who has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused ridiculous conspiracy theories. We call on the Sec-Gen to disassociate the UN from this biased and deceitful report.
The report published Wednesday, titled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” was compiled by Richard Falk, a Princeton professor emeritus with a long track record of vehemently anti-Israel rhetoric who previously was the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine, and by Virginia Tilley, a Pindosi political scientist who authored the book “The One-State Solution” in 2005. The report says:
Available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law. … (Israel’s Law of Return) conferring on Jews worldwide the right to enter Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship regardless of their countries of origin and whether or not they can show links to Israel-Palestine, while withholding any comparable right from Palestinians, including those with documented ancestral homes in the country, (is) demographic engineering. … (Fragmentation is the) principal method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime. This fragmentation operates to stabilize the Israeli regime of racial domination over the Palestinians and to weaken the will and capacity of the Palestinian people to mount a unified and effective resistance.
Landmark UN report backs Israel boycott
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Mar 15 2017
A new UN report offers explicit backing for the Palestinian-led BDS campaign to end Israeli apartheid and support a just peace. The landmark report’s endorsement of boycotts, economic sanctions and other grassroots initiatives comes at a moment when Israel is desperately attempting to criminalize and suppress international support for Palestinian rights. Published by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the report concludes:
Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. (We find) beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crimes of apartheid” as defined in international law. (We urge govts to) support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives.
The UN report, “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”, is not a comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa, but an evaluation of Israel’s practices against the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and other key human rights laws. The convention defines the crime of apartheid as follows:
inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.
International law defines racial discrimination as follows, the report notes:
any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent or ethnic or national origin. The claim to Palestine as the exclusive homeland of the Jewish people rests on an expressly racial conception of both groups. This means that Jews and Palestinians are ‘racial groups’. The mission of preserving Israel as a Jewish state has inspired or even compelled Israel to pursue several general racial policies including demographic engineering, in order to establish and maintain an overwhelming Jewish majority in Israel. This encompasses the ethnic cleansing of almost 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, the denial of the right of return for Palestinian refugees and a range of other policies designed to restrict the size of the Palestinian population. Although they can vote, the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, about a fifth of the state’s citizens, are also systematically restricted, while full rights are granted only to Jews. Meanwhile, Israel’s discriminatory “Law of Return” automatically grants citizenship to Jews from anywhere in the world, while denying citizenship even to those Palestinians who have a documented history of residency in the country. As in any racial democracy, such a majority allows the trappings of democracy, democratic elections, a strong legislature, without threatening any loss of hegemony by the dominant racial group. Voting rights lose their significance in terms of equal rights when a racial group is legally banned from challenging laws that perpetuate inequality. Israeli law bans organized Palestinian opposition to Jewish domination, rendering it illegal and even seditious.
In a stark illustration of the racial logic espoused by Israel’s leadership, the country’s defense minister Avigdor Lieberman this week reiterated the view that the Jewish state should eventually be ethnically cleansed of virtually all Palestinians. He said in reference to prominent Palestinian politicians, three of them MKs:
There is no reason why Sheikh Raed Salah, Ayman Odeh, Basel Ghattas or Haneen Zoabi should continue to be Israeli citizens.
Israel prohibits anyone from using its ostensibly democratic system to challenge the regime’s fundamentally racist set-up. Its Basic Law, the closest thing that Israel has to a written constitution, bars parties from running on a platform that explicitly or implicitly includes “negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” This is not the first analysis to find that Israeli policies meet the legal definition of apartheid: a 2009 study by South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council concluded that Israel practices apartheid in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. But the new UN study goes much further, finding that Israel’s apartheid system dominates the entire Palestinian people. It concludes that the “strategic fragmentation” of the Palestinian people into separate territorial units and legal regimes, as citizens with limited rights within Israel, as stateless persons in the West Bank and Gaza, as “permanent residents” in East Jerusalem or as refugees and exiles with no right of return, “is the principal method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime.” The 2009 study was overseen by political scientist Virginia Tilley. Tilley and the eminent professor of international law Richard Falk are co-authors of the new UN report. Governments have a legal obligation to act immediately to end the crime of apartheid. This includes refusing to recognize an apartheid regime as lawful, refusing to aid a state in maintaining such a regime and cooperating with UN bodies and other states to end it. The report urges UN bodies to act, and even suggests seeking a formal opinion from the International Court of Justice on Israel’s apartheid system. It says:
(National governments should) allow criminal prosecutions of Israeli officials demonstrably connected with the practices of apartheid. … civil society institutions and individuals have a moral duty to use the instruments at their disposal to raise awareness of this ongoing criminal enterprise. … to exert pressure on Israel to dismantle apartheid structures and negotiate in good faith for a lasting peace that acknowledges the rights of Palestinians under international law and makes it possible for the two peoples to live together on the basis of real equality.
Recalling an earlier era, the report notes that research and legal analyses by UN bodies such as the Center Against Apartheid were critical resources for civil society activists in their efforts aimed at “legitimating BDS and contributing to the overall formation of a transnational movement against apartheid in South Africa.” The report recommends:
practical measures in accordance with international law to exert pressure on Israel to dismantle its apartheid regime. Efforts should be made to broaden support for BDS initiatives among civil society actors. (Private sector firms should be) reminded of their legal, moral and political responsibility to sever ties with commercial ventures and projects that directly or indirectly aid and abet the apartheid regime.
All of this confirms the reasoning and tactics of the BDS movement, support for which even the staunchly pro-Israel EU has belatedly recognized as a democratic right.
UN agency labels Israel ‘apartheid regime’– and Israel likens organization to Nazis
Allison Deger, Mondoweiss, Mar 15 2017
A UN agency today labeled Israel an “apartheid regime,” in a report that found the country guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” of the “grave charge” of operating systematic discrimination and oppression against the Palestinian people. The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) published the document, Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid. ESCWA is mandated to review Israeli aggressions. The findings of the report are non-binding and reflect contributions from professor of political science at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Virginia Tilley and former UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk. It concluded UN organs should sanction Israel and coordinate with civil society groups in boycott campaigns. It said:
Apartheid is a crime against humanity, defined as inhuman acts …committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial groups or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.
While neither Jews or Palestinians are racial groups, the report stated, the apartheid standard was met because ESCWA found a “racial character” to the policies of the Israeli government enacted toward both Jews and Palestinians. This is expressed inside of Israel through separate categories for a citizen’s “nationality” (Jewish or Arab) and in the occupied territories by the absence of citizenship for Palestinians. Israel was said to have divided Palestinians into different spheres of governance, each with fewer rights than Jewish Israelis. Subsections of the report outline Palestinian citizens of Israel, West Bank and Gaza residents, Jerusalem residents, and external refugees, all of whom have unequal rights in comparison to Jewish-Israeli citizens. ESCWA said:
Strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people is the principal method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime.
Individual treatment to each group may not meet the apartheid definition, but when taken together, it does, the report said. It regarded Israel as producing:
one comprehensive regime developed for the purpose of ensuring the enduring dominion over non-Jews in all land exclusively under Israeli control in whatever category.
Palestinian citizens of Israel total 1.7 million, and while they have voting rights, the report found several quasi-governmental agencies carried out “demographic engineering” in the name of the state to privilege Jewish citizens over Palestinians. Chiefly, the Jewish Agency and the WZO were both described as exclusively resettling Jewish immigrants and using state land for Jewish-only housing, while at the same time Israel denied the return of Palestinian refugees, and on a smaller scale, denied citizenships to spouses of Israeli citizens who are of Palestinian heritage. The report further found Palestinians have no legal tools for dismantling the racialized hierarchies enshrined to those agencies, due to a 1958 law (functionally part of Israel’s constitution) that calls for a “Jewish character” of the country. The report said:
Palestinian parties can campaign only for minor reforms and better municipal budgets. They are legally prohibited from challenging the racial regime itself.
While Palestinian citizens of Israel were noted to hold the same political rights as their Jewish counterparts, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are subject to harsh Israeli military code and hold no political rights in Israel. Because some 300,000 Israeli settlers also live inside of the West Bank and are governed by separate rules than Palestinians, the UN group said:
The dual legal system, problematic in itself, is indicative of an apartheid regime. The territory is administered in a manner that fully meets the definition of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention: except for the provision on genocide, every illustrative ‘inhuman act’ listed in the Convention is routinely and systematically practiced by Israel in the West Bank.
The issue of how the areas under the full security and civil control of the Palestinian Authority fit into the picture was also raised. These urban enclaves in the West Bank were likened to “Bantustans” in South Africa during the apartheid-era and regarded as further evidence of the definition of apartheid. Bantustans, defined as “separate reserves and ghettoes for the members of the racial groups or groups,” are strictly banned under international law, said the study. Virginia Tilley, the author of this section of the report, added to Mondoweiss:
The late Ariel Sharon closely examined the functioning of the Bantustans in South Africa during his multiple trips there. I think no reasonable doubt can be sustained that this design for a permanently non-sovereign Palestinian ‘state’ was the true aim and so the set-up was intentional and by design and not merely effect.
Regarding Palestinians who hold Jerusalem resident permits, Israel was charged with “discrimination in access to education, health care, employment, residency and building rights. They also suffer from expulsions and home demolitions, which serve the Israeli policy of ‘demographic balance’ in favour of Jewish residents.” The report made a specific reference to a 1996 “center of life” law which it said was a legal mechanism to expel 11,000 Palestinians from the city between the time the law passed and 2014, because their “center of life” was deemed not to be Jerusalem. ESCWA claimed Israel first began implementing apartheid abuses during its early years of statehood when 800,000 Palestinians were made refugees during the 1947-49 war. Israel then prevented their return, while at the same time passing legislation to allow any person of Jewish heritage to become a citizen. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the JPost that Irael would embark on an “apartheid system” if it did not reach a peace deal soon with the Palestinians. Former Sec State Jackass Kerry had been arguing a similar point for several years about the waning time before Israel becomes an “apartheid” regime; although his successor Rex Tillerson stated in his Senate confirmation hearing that the Israelis and Palestinians have time to make a deal. He said:
Sometimes you just need to skip a generation to get rid of all the baggage of the past.
The reigning view in Pindostan & Eurostan is that if Israel were to annex the OPT and take full control, unbridled apartheid would flourish. But the UN report jumps the timeline world leaders have used, and says so explicitly at the top of the dossier: ESCWA reviewed the situation between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea as a whole, as if it were all already a single state. Israel has fiercely rejected the apartheid charge, in this report and previously, although it seemingly did not take this report as a seriously as others. Emmanuel Nahshon, spox for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, directed Mondoweiss to his Twitter feed, where he said today:
#UN #ESCWA has issued today a ” Der Stürmer”like report, NOT endorsed by @UNSG. Friendly advice- dont read it without anti nausea pills….
In 2010 Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs more clearly outlined its position on why it is not an apartheid state:
While the status of Arab-Israelis in Israel is still open to much improvement, a great deal has already been accomplished towards reaching the goal of absolute equality. Unlike under apartheid, Arab Israelis can vote, live where they want, receive excellent medical care and practice whatever profession they choose. One only has to look at the rise of Arab-Israelis in the public sphere to realize the advances Arab Israelis have made: they can be found on the Supreme Court, in the Knesset, in ambassadorial positions, as senior officers in the police and army, as mayors, as deputy speakers of the Knesset, and even as government ministers and deputy ministers. Prominent Arab Israelis can be found in almost every sphere of Israeli life, including in the medical fields, media and playing on Israel’s national soccer team. One of the ideals on which Israel was founded was that of equality. Israel’s Declaration of Independence states that the State of Israel ‘will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions.’
Some human rights groups have shied away from labeling Israel as practicing “apartheid” when describing mistreatment of Palestinians. Although that is more or less the contention of a 2010 report by HRW, “Separate and Unequal: Israel’s Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the OPT.” They only looked at areas Israel occupies and did not address Palestinian citizens of Israel. Adalah, the leading human rights group that advocates on behalf of Palestinian citizens of Israel, also has yet to use the word “apartheid” to formally describe their situation. But on its website, the group says Palestinians are “unequal” to Jewish-Israelis and lists 50 “Discriminatory Laws in Israel” that codify separate treatment between Jewish and Arab citizens, ranging from regulations about income tax to land-use codes.