World Everything Missing From the Human Rights Watch Report Calling Israel Apartheid | Opinion
Palestinian leaders face reckoning as rare elections loom
After years without polls, the Palestinian political landscape may be about to change dramatically.It was the clumsiness of childhood that saved Najwa Odeh's life. The nine-year-old Palestinian knocked her spoon off the dinner table and reached to pick it up when a bullet whistled over her head.
I am a left-of-center Israeli who believes our continued occupation of the West Bank is a national tragedy. In my youth, I served in the West Bank and in Gaza during my regular IDF service and in reserve duty, experiences which convinced me of the folly of our occupation. But I'm also well aware that if someone made me king of Israel tomorrow, I would not know how to end the occupation without endangering the safety of Israel and its people. And merely stating that the occupation is bad is not the same thing as finding a way to end it.
Unfortunately, that's essentially all the left is capable of producing these days. To wit, the human rights watchdog organization Human Rights Watch issued a report this week accusing Israel of "the crimes of apartheid and persecution." The report is filled with lengthy legal definitions that stretch the term apartheid well beyond the average layperson's understanding of the term. But the report's real weakness is in its total lack of any context. Perhaps most crucially, it has erased any agency the Palestinians might have had throughout the course of our long conflict with them.
for Human Rights Watch, Israel commits a "Apartheid Crime" against Palestinians
The Human Rights Watch Human Rights Organization Qualified "Apartheid" Israel's policy for the Arabs on His soil and Palestinians in the occupied territories, in a report published Tuesday. Israeli NGOs have been using the term "apartheid" for a few months to designate Israel's policies towards Israeli Arabs - of the Palestinian remained on their lands after the creation of the Hebrew State-- and Palestinians Busy West Bank, Gaza under blockade and Jerusalem-is annexed.
And that agency began right from the beginning. In November 1947, thevoted to partition what was then Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State. The Jews accepted the plan, but the Arabs rejected it, and promptly attacked the Jewish State. If that attack had never happened, there never would have been Palestinian refugees or a conflict.
It would be the first of a series of similar decisions made by Palestinian leadership that contributed greatly to the situation we find ourselves in today. In 1967, Israel begged King Hussein of Jordan not to attack, but the king ignored Israel's entreaties, and Israel was again attacked by numerous neighboring Arab states. Somehow, Israel prevailed, and in the process, occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israel Dismisses Allegations of Palestinian Persecution from Human Rights Watch, Says Group Has 'Anti-Israel Agenda'
In a sweeping report, Human Rights Watch accused Israel of apartheid against Palestinians living within its borders and in other occupied lands. Israel vehemently denied the allegations.Israel rejected the report, saying its Arab minority enjoys full civil rights.
Again, Israel offered to withdraw from the land captured in exchange for peace. Again, the response from the Arab states was clear: No.
In 1994, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin took a big risk for peace by recognizing the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a terror organization. Rabin allowed the PLO to establish limited sovereignty in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The most fundamental part of the agreement, which included changing the PLO charter, was that both sides would no longer settle their differences using violence. Rabin paid for entering this agreement with his life.
The list goes on: In 1999, Prime Minister Ehud Barak tried to resolve the remaining differences with Palestinians, but the Palestinians flatly rejected both Barak's best offer as well as a subsequent offer by the U.S. to try to bridge the differences between the sides. With that Palestinian rejection came the Second Intifada, a series of suicide attacks and bombings that took place all over Israel, killing 1,137 Israelis and wounding 8,34. A generation of Israeli children grew up afraid to board a bus, terrified that a nearby Arab might possess a gun or bomb.
Israel committing 'crime of apartheid' against Palestinians: HRW
Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that Israel is committing the crime of "apartheid" by seeking to maintain Jewish "domination" over Palestinians and its own Arab population, an allegation fiercely denounced by Israel. Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, told AFP there have been warnings for years that "apartheid is around the corner".Israel, currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, blasted the accusations as "preposterous and false" and accused the New York-based group of having "a long-standing anti-Israeli agenda".
So it's unsurprising that in 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came to the conclusion that a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians was unlikely. He promoted instead a separation of the sides. Sharon removed Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, where Jewish settlements existed amidst a sea of Palestinians.
And it's here, in Gaza, that the lack of context in the HRW report is particularly striking. The report refers to Hamas' Gaza takeover as the reason Israel began restricting Gaza's commerce and transit. That narrative ignores the fact that when Hamas staged its violent takeover, it dismissed demands by the International Quartet to recognize the State of Israel and remove its stated desire to destroy Israel from its charter. By ignoring the Quartet's demands, Hamas effectively asserted it was in a state of war with Israel.
It's not only effectively at war. Hamas continues to fire missiles at Israeli cities. And still, Israel does not completely blockade the strip until Hamas surrenders; it allows hundreds of trailers each day to bring supplies and fuel into Gaza.
US disagrees that Israel carrying out 'apartheid'
The United States on Wednesday voiced disagreement with Human Rights Watch's allegation that Israel is committing "apartheid" against the Palestinians but said it was committed to condemning abuses. "It is not the view of this administration that Israel's actions constitute apartheid," a State Department spokesperson said. President Joe Biden's State Department, however, said it would not "offer public evaluations of reports by outside groups""It is not the view of this administration that Israel's actions constitute apartheid," a State Department spokesperson said.
But beyond the sins of omission, there are two very fundamental flaws with the HRW report. The first is the construal of Arab Israelis and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as one entity. HRW defines all Arab-Israelis as "Palestinians living in Israel," despite the overwhelming preference of the people it describes to a self-identity as Israeli Arabs, and not Palestinians.
This matter because Arab Israelis are deeply integrated into Israeli life. They make up over 20% of the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers in Israel. University campuses are filled with Arab Israeli students. Many have now entered Israel's world-class high-tech sector.
It's definitely true that Arab Israelis suffer discrimination, and there are problems within their communities. But at this very moment, Arab Israeli political parties are about to actively participate in deciding who will form the next Israeli government. To even intimate that apartheid takes place in Israel proper undermines the very meaning of the term.
Secondly, the report's attempt to describe the Arab-Israeli conflict as an ethnic clash in which one side is carrying on "crimes of apartheid" against the other, weaker ethnic group is a fundamental mischaracterization of the conflict. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not an ethnic conflict; it is a national conflict between the Jews of Palestine, who agreed to a partition plan, and the Arabs who did not.
People Around Israel Rally to Help Victims of Mount Meron Stampede
After a religious Jewish celebration turned deadly early Friday morning, people around Israel gathered to donate blood and food to the victims.Reports at least 38 killed in collapse of an overcrowded ramp and a stampede at the annual Lag BaOmer celebrations in Israeli north, when Hasidic Jews visit grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Here is crowd just minutes before terrible tragedy takes place. pic.twitter.
This national conflict has been going on for over a hundred years. Fortunately for the Jews who lived in Palestine, they prevailed in the War of Independence, just as Israel continues to prevail. Otherwise, the Jews would no longer be here.
This is not to say that everything in the report is false. As an Israeli, I am not proud of many of the actions carried out by Israeli governments over the generations, or even today. But many of those decisions were and are made based on the security needs of the country and Israel's people.
Until the Palestinians are willing to publicly accept an end of the conflict that does not provide for the return of the many generations of refugees born in the last 80 years, we have no clear path to end the occupation of lands, a stone's throw from our country's main international airport.
Israel is not beyond critique. I constructively criticize many of our policies. But over the top, one-dimensional accusations lacking nuance like those that fill the HRW report do not undermine Israel; they undermine legitimate criticism of Israeli policies.
Folks: It's time to do better.
Marc Schulman is a multimedia historian.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own.
Canada’s blackout of Israel’s crimes against humanity .
Why did Canada’s leading news organisations choose not to cover HRW’s damning report on Israel?Here is the truth: Canada’s political and media establishment employs an ingrained modus operandi not only to shield their coddled confederate in the Middle East, Israel, from the censure it has so blatantly earned, but to allow powerful politicians and news organisations to lie about who and what Israel is to Canadians.