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How Israel is an apartheid regime, with Ali Abunimah

Mainstream human rights organization Amnesty International admitted Israel is committing apartheid against Palestinians, a crime against humanity. Journalist Ali Abunimah discusses the parallels to South Africa and roots in settler-colonialism.

Palestine Israel checkpoint Bethlehem
Palestinians at an Israeli checkpoint in Bethlehem (Photo credit: Flickr)

Mainstream human rights organization Amnesty International has come out publicly and said that “Israeli authorities must be held accountable for committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians,” writing that Israel’s “cruel system of domination” amounts to a “crime against humanity.”

Geopolitical Economy Report spoke about Amnesty’s report with Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah, editor of the Electronic Intifada.

“You cannot claim to be a human rights organization if you do not address the glaring reality of persecution that Israel, with the support of the West, is inflicting on Palestinians and has been inflicting on them for decades,” he said.

The fact that centrist NGOs that are notorious for their pro-Western bias have finally acknowledged what Palestinians have been saying for decades, Abunimah explained, shows how “Palestinians, through their resistance, in all its forms, are forcing even these liberal human rights organizations to recognize the reality.”

He added that “Israel can no longer say that, ‘Oh, it’s just far-left radicals, and anti-Semites, and extremists who who are accusing us of apartheid.’ This is the world’s biggest, most mainstream human rights organization.”

Amnesty’s investigation follows similar reports by Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, designating Israel an apartheid regime.

You can watch or listen to the interview below:



Apartheid ‘is inseparable from settler-colonialism’

In the interview, Ali Abunimah discussed the many similarities between apartheid in South Africa and Palestine.

“The point that is often missed about apartheid, in South Africa and in Palestine, is that it is inseparable from settler-colonialism,” he explained. “It’s not segregation for the sake of segregation.”

“Of course, it is motivated and animated by notions of racial superiority,” Abunimah continued, “but it’s about removing the native people from the land,” so it can be conquered and exploited.

South African anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu himself made this comparison, stating in 2014, “I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed.”

Palestinians resist Israel because it’s a colonizer

The Israeli government and its supporters have responded to the Amnesty International apartheid designation by denouncing it as “anti-Semitic.”

Abunimah said this “is now really the only weapon Israel has, because it cannot refute the mountains of evidence about its decades-long persecution of the Palestinian people.”

“It’s just so cheap and so lazy to claim that Palestinians resist Israel because it’s Jewish. Palestinians don’t care that Israel claims to be a Jewish state,” he added. “Israel is an oppressor. It’s a colonizer. And it wouldn’t matter if it was French, or British, or German, or whatever.”

“And in fact, it is French, and British, and German, because the Israeli colonial project wouldn’t exist without the billions in funding, and weaponry, and support it gets from the United States, from Canada, from the European Union, from Australia.”

“Notice anything about that, by the way?” Abunimah continued. “It’s all the Anglo and European settler-colonial powers. And whenever you look at a UN vote related to Palestinian rights, and they show a map of the countries of how they voted, it’s always the European states and their colonial extensions – the US, Canada, and Australia, and a couple of outliers – that are on the side of Israel, and the rest of the world that stands for Palestinian rights.”

“That’s not a coincidence. It’s that Israel is fundamentally a settler colonial project, and these countries identify with the Israeli settler-colonial project, and support it.”

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