In the last two years, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have begun using the word “apartheid” to describe Israeli rule over Palestinians, marking a significant shift within the human rights establishment. But Palestinian intellectuals have been critiquing Israeli apartheid for decades—albeit in a different fashion. As scholars of international law Noura Erakat and John Reynolds wrote in an essay published in the summer issue of Jewish Currents, a rich archive of Palestinian writing from the 1960s and ’70s frames apartheid as “an inevitable outcome of Israeli settler colonialism,” and a key “vehicle for its continuance.” Erakat and Reynolds argue that if we understand apartheid as a tool of settler colonialism, it appears to “require the same remedies as other manifestations of colonial rule and foreign occupation: collective liberation and land restitution.” By contrast, the human rights organizations have advanced a more legalistic understanding of apartheid, and suggested accordingly that the solution is to institute formal legal equality in Israel/Palestine—in other words, to extend equal rights to all who live in the land. Alex Kane discusses this and more with Erakat, Reynolds, and Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch.
Articles and Reports Mentioned:
“Understanding Apartheid,” Noura Erakat and John Reynolds, Jewish Currents
“A Threshold Crossed,” Human Rights Watch
“Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity,” Amnesty International
“The Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and the Crime of Apartheid,” Michael Sfard, Yesh Din
“Decolonization is not a metaphor,” Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang
Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”