On April 12, the leaders of Georgetown Israel Alliance published an op-ed in The Hoya titled, “Include Diverse Narratives in Israel-Palestine Debate.” The article’s authors accuse Israeli Apartheid Week, a series of events hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine during the first week of April, of presenting a “one-sided, divisive narrative, baselessly denigrating Israel as an apartheid state.”

Israel, as it currently exists, is an apartheid state. Since 1967, Israel has ruled over the entirety of historic Palestine and has divided residents into a hierarchical arrangement based on ethno-religious status.

Jewish citizens of Israel are guaranteed full rights under the law. However, Palestinian citizens of Israel live under Jim Crow-like laws.

Adalah, a human rights organization that advocates for minorities in Israel, has outlined over 65 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Palestinians without citizenship are subject to military rule that routinely violates their human rights under international law, which includes Israeli soldiers systematically abusing Palestinian children and trying them in military courts without legal representation, according to multiple human rights organizations.

Israel recently passed the “Jewish Nation-State Law,” which institutionalized its discriminatory policies against both non-Jewish citizens and Palestinians in the occupied territories. This law, Adalah explains, “guarantees the ethnic-religious character of Israel as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens, while simultaneously anchoring discrimination against Palestinian citizens and legitimizing exclusion, racism, and systemic inequality.

The limited and precarious autonomy Israel grants the Palestinian territories does not change the fact that Israel is an apartheid state, just as the existence of semi-autonomous Bantustans did not change the fact that apartheid existed in South Africa. In a statement from 2014, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu pronounced, “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.” This statement, coming from one of South Africa’s leading figures in the struggle against apartheid, says it all.

Narratives have power, and we cannot ignore their material impacts. We cannot allow the narratives of the powerful and the oppressed to be deemed equally legitimate.

Mohammed Alhammami is a Palestinian refugee from Gaza and a graduate student at Georgetown University. David Balgley is a Jewish-American member of Jewish Voice for Peace and a graduate student at Georgetown University.

5 Comments

  1. Against Racism says:

    Thank you for writing this as it is both powerful and Brave.

    I would like Black and Arab people to know that Jews don’t consider themselves White. Jews are a separate race from White people. I did not discover this until I got to Georgetown and had Jewish friends tell me they don’t consider themselves White. When I began to research this online I found many articles and explanations by Jewish authors discussing how they are not White.

    So I would like for my fellow Hoyas who are non-White to not blame us for Israeli apartheid or the Jim Crows-style laws Jews oppress non-Jews with in Israel.

    Thank you

  2. Beer baron says:

    We can all agree that Israel is a shining star of freedom in a region, sadly, largely devoid of it. In truth, Israel is a veritable social justice Shangri-La compared to the rest of the Arab Middle East.

    Out of curiosity, I looked up the innocuous sounding “Jewish Voice for Peace” online and quickly learned that it is a radical, fringe, far-left, anti-Israel organization. It is such a vile organization that it is on the ADL’s top-10 list of anti-Israel organizations. Quite an honor!

  3. Hoya Graduate says:

    So many inaccuracies in this article. 1) what are the border definitions of “historic Palestine”? 2) Arab citizens of Israel have the same rights as Jewish Israelis, including sitting on the Israeli Supreme Court. The Jim Crow reference is a poor attempt to connect the Palestinian struggle to the Black a American struggle.

    And let’s not leave out the fact that there’s a security barrier due to the Palestinian culture of hatred and terrorism that is perpetuated by the elected leadership both of Gaza and the West Bank. The security barrier was built to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers and Palestinian extremists who still today constantly try to murder innocent people.

  4. Mohammad J. says:

    As a response to the last comment:

    For the first question: historic Palestine is what is now called “Israel” and Palestinian territories. Palestine was used by Hertzel and the Zionists who were advocating for Aliyas to what they called “Palestine”… so its not something new.. until the Zionist project colonized the land of Palestine with the support of the Brits (who cares? Its okay to take the land of ppl of color) by just claiming that your ancestors 3,000 years ago might have settled their – even though half of the world’s civilizations at that time were in the region while Bani Israel were only there for a while. Hence, its not the land of Muslims/Jews/Christians but the land of Palestinians!

    Regarding the 2nd question: No one questions the fact that israel functions as a “democracy”.. but its a:

    illiberal democracy that institutionalizes discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens (source: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2019/israel)

    It is also a colonizing state – annexing Palestinian lands for its Jewish colonies.. (UNSC Resolution 2334)

    It is also an apartheid state – condemned by the UN multiple times (https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjM6vea3_nhAhWOl-AKHVsHCgcQzPwBegQIARAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.reuters.com%2Farticle%2Fus-israel-palestinians-report-idUSKBN16M2IN&psig=AOvVaw3F17NC5563AR8WA67Cht3d&ust=1556779904629049 )

    It is also blocking Gaza (air – sea – and land) leading to what is called “the world’s largest open air prison”

    By the way, ppl no longer buy pro-Israeli propaganda.. except for Zionists and ideologues so its better to use facts and logic to have a fruitful discussion

  5. Mohammad A. says:

    Historic Palestine is what Herzl and advocates of Zionism used to call when they called Jews for aliyas to Palestine pre 1948, until the zionist colonial project took over Palestine by force with the help of the Brits.

    As a response to the two comments: No one questions the fact that israel functions as a democracy.. but its an:

    illiberal democracy that institutionalizes discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens (source: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2019/israel)

    It is also a colonizing state – annexing Palestinian lands for its Jewish colonies.. (UNSC 2334)

    It is also an apartheid state – condemned by the UN multiple times (https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjM6vea3_nhAhWOl-AKHVsHCgcQzPwBegQIARAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.reuters.com%2Farticle%2Fus-israel-palestinians-report-idUSKBN16M2IN&psig=AOvVaw3F17NC5563AR8WA67Cht3d&ust=1556779904629049 )

    It is also blocking Gaza (air – sea – and land) leading to what is called “the world’s largest open air prison.”

    Finally, please update your pro-Israel arguments because ppl no longer believe your propaganda except for Zionists and ideologues… make sure you use facts and logic to have a fruitful discussion rather than whitewashing Israel.. “ohh israel is the only democracy in the middle east..” and using smear campaigns against critics of Israel “they’re anti-semites and haters of the only Jewish state etc.. b.s)”

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