O apartheid in Palestine

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By PAULO SERGIO PINHEIRO*

In Bruzundanga, Israel's violations against Palestinians are not discussed

In September of last year, on the eve of the opening of the UN General Assembly, Lakhdar Brahimi, former special envoy of the UN Secretary-General and member of the The Elders, created by Nelson Mandela, called for the Assembly to investigate “the deepening Israeli supremacy regime over millions of Palestinians, which has been recognized by more and more observers as a regime of apartheid".

Brahimi recalled that, with the annexation and expansion of its absolute control over all of Palestine, Israel denies the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to existence and sovereignty in their own land. Thus consolidating a system of government of institutionalized discrimination, segregation and inequality, through laws and policies, throughout historic Palestine. He concluded by saying that this system meets the definition of apartheid of the UN.

Israel apartheid map against Palestinians

This characterization of Israel's practices against the Palestinians as apartheid it's not new. Even Israeli leaders such as former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert warned that the Jewish state was in danger of becoming a state with apartheid, unless it negotiated with the Palestinians. In 2006, former President Jimmy Carter made the same analysis with his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Quite recently, the respected Israeli NGOs Yesh Din and B'Tselem also resorted to the definition of apartheid.

In May 2021, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, based on a two-year investigation and two decades of work in Israel and the occupied territories, came to the same conclusion that the crime against humanity of apartheid is committed by the government of Israel. When using the term apartheid HRW claims simply to apply the international law contained in the 1973 convention on the apartheid and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Three elements contribute to such a crime: the intention of a racial group to dominate another, a systematic oppression and the perpetuation of certain inhuman acts.

Now it's Amnesty International's (AI) turn, with Agnès Callamard, former UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, as its new Secretary General. AI has just published the report “Israel apartheid against the Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity”, based on a five-year analysis of Israeli civil law, which governs 2 million Palestinians with Israeli nationality, and military law, which governs the remaining 4 million in the West Bank and Gaza.

Agnès Callamard states that “the report reveals the true extent of the apartheid from Israel. Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or in Israel, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights. We found that Israel's ruthless policies of segregation, expropriation and exclusion in all territories under its control clearly amount to the apartheid.

As with all the speeches and reports mentioned here, the main purpose of this article is to remind that the international community has an obligation to act, no longer tolerating Israel as a member state of the UN above the obligations of international law.

In the face of the report, there were immediate accusations of anti-Semitism by the Israeli government, stating that “extremist language” (sic) of Amnesty will pour fuel on the fire of anti-Semitism” and could lead to violence against Jews around the world. “Amnesty is not a human rights organization, but just another radical organization that echoes propaganda without seriously checking the facts,” said Yair Lapid, foreign minister. “Rather than seeking the truth, Amnesty echoes the same lies shared by terrorist organizations.” Despite this hysterical reaction, as characterized by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Amnesty International's report is aimed at the current government of Israel and not the Israeli population, nor does it dispute the existence of the State of Israel.

And here, in Bruzundanga? Unlike the major print newspapers and television channels in the world, here the mainstream press was very discreet about the Amnesty International report, favoring opinions favorable to Israel. The same tomb silence was heard in universities, in human rights organizations. The issue of Palestinian human rights violations simply does not exist in Bruzundanga.

*Paulo Sergio Pinheiro he is a retired professor of political science at USP; former Minister of Human Rights; UN Special Rapporteur on Syria and member of the Arns Commission. Author, among other books, of Strategies of illusion: the world revolution and Brazil, 1922-1935 (Company of Letters).

 

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