This month of March until April many activists all the world over will commemorate what is known as Israeli Apartheid Week in solidarity with the Palestinian Solidarity Movement and the Boycott, Divest and Sanction Movement (BDS).
The Israeli Apartheid Week is an international series of events that seeks to raise awareness of Israel’s settler colonial project and apartheid system over the Palestinian people and to build support for the growing BDS movement.
Inspired by the popular resistance across historic Palestine and struggles worldwide, this year will mark hundred years of Palestinian resistance against settler colonialism since the Balfour Declaration.
For nearly seventy years, Israel has denied Palestinians both inside Israel and in the occupied territories their fundamental rights and have flatly refused to comply with international law.
Israel maintains a regime of settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation over the Palestinian people. Surprisingly this has been possible because of international support to Israel. Many governments all over the world especially the USA, have failed to hold Israel to account, while corporations and institutions across the world help Israel to oppress Palestinians.
Because those in power refuse to act to stop this injustice, Palestinian civil society has called for a global citizens’ response of solidarity with Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
The BDS movement is campaigning to the international community to boycott which involves withdrawing support of Israel and Israel and international companies that are involved in the violation of Palestinians that are involved in the violation of Palestinian human rights, as well as complicity to Israel’s sporting, cultural and academic institutions.
Furthermore there are divestment campaigns lined up which urge banks, local councils, churches, pension funds and universities to withdraw investments from all Israeli companies and from international companies involves in violation Palestinian rights.
Sanction campaigns will pressure government to fulfil their legal obligations to hold Israel account including by ending military trade, free trade agreement and expelling Israel from international forums such as the UN and FIFA. This BDS movement is an inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement that is opposed to all forms of discrimination including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
When Israel was established in 1948, around 90% of all Palestinians who would have been inside its borders were expelled and prevented from returning and to this day, millions of Palestinians are denied access to their homeland, their lands and property expropriated purely because they are not Jewish.
Since its establishment, Israel has systematically discriminated against Palestinian citizens and for 50 years of its 69 years of its existence, it has subjected non-citizen Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to a military regime characterized by colonisation and segregation. Within Israel, inequality is institutionalised and surprisingly even the US State Department acknowledges that Palestinian citizens of Israel which forms about twenty percent of the
There are more than fifty laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens, affecting areas such as land ownership, housing rights, citizenship, education etc. In 2016 the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) voted against a draft bill calling for the inclusion of an equality in a key Basic Law. Representation in the corridors of power and judiciary is very limited for the Palestinians/Arab Israelis.
For example since 1948 there has only been two non-Jewish ministers out of a total of 600 and only one Arab judge on the Supreme Court out of 66 justices and present. Disturbingly, government funding for Arab schools is far below than that of Jewish schools. According to data published in 2014 by Middle East Monitor, the Israeli government provides three times as much funding to Jewish students than it does for Arab students. All in all Israeli resources are disproportionately directed to Jews and not Arabs. This is a factor that is causing the Palestinians of Israel to suffer the lowest standards in Israeli society by all socio-economic indicators.
Meanwhile in the occupied territories, Israel has continued to expand its illegal settlements contrary to international law. Thousands of Palestinian homes are demolished on a daily basis by the Israeli military machine to pave way for the expansion of Jewish settlements in occupied territories thus diminishing all prospects of a two state solution.
In Gaza destructive wars have been waged upon the people of Gaza by Israel (2009, 2012 and 2014) where the indiscriminate bombing of schools, residential houses and killing of thousands of civilians have been carried out with apocalyptic impunity. Palestinians from both Gaza and West Bank face administrative detentions where Israel exercises an illegal right to arrest and detain Palestinians (including children) for months and even years without any charge or trial against the detainees.
Movements of Palestinians between Gaza and West Bank is severely restricted with a “shoot to kill policy” applied by Israeli military machine for any one seen to be violating the ‘no go’ areas inside occupied territories. Last but not least Israel has carried out systematic assassination of Palestinian leaders in order to break the morale of the different Palestinian liberation movements that have tirelessly resisted the occupation of their lands with everything at their disposal. It is against this background that a call for the boycott of Israel by the international community is the rightful thing to do in order to stop this madness from Apartheid Israel.
Solly Rakgomo is a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Movement @ 73904141