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Israel’s System of Oppression: An Apartheid Without Nuance

Israel is possibly the most controversial case of a nation-state’s existence. The Western World, who formed the country, supports them, while the global South remains neutral or vocally against them. Some even refuse to acknowledge its sovereignty, namely the Islamic states and the Democratic Republic’s People of Korea (North Korea).

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Israel’s presence in the Middle East dates back to the ages of BC when Jews fled for emancipation from the Egyptians and settled around the area of modern-day Israel. The state of Israel was established after the United Nations approved the partitioning of Palestine, a British territory, into an Arab and Jewish state following the Holocaust in Europe during the Second World War. Although the Arabs rejected the proposition, Israel was officially declared a sovereign state in 1948, while Palestine remained under the jurisdiction of the British and the UN. The declaration prompted an invasion by Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon spawning the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Eventually, a ceasefire agreement was reached. Nevertheless, several conflicts between Israel and its neighbouring Arab states have transpired over the decades.

Over the years, several countries have encouraged a two-state solution, instituting Israel and Palestine as two sovereign states. The most prominent attempt was the Oslo Peace Process. The two-state solution looked promising until dissatisfaction and distrust culminated in violence and the deal was terminated in 2008. The peace accords led to the agreement to split the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into three types of territory: under Palestinian administration and security (“Area A”), under Palestinian administration but joint Israeli-Palestinian security (“Area B”), and under Israeli administration and security (“Area C”).

Israel is one of the most diverse countries in the Middle East, home to a multitude of ethnicities, races, and religions. It is the only country where people from any part of the world can attain nationality status purely based on their religious affiliation as Jewish. The Israeli population is primarily comprised of Jewish refugees and Holocaust Survivors (approx. 687,000) who arrived from Europe after World War II. The current population is around 9.4 million. Around 75% of the population are Jews, while Arabs account for 21% of the population. Within the Jewish population, 73% are Israeli-born, 18% are from North America and Europe, and 9% are from Africa and Asia.

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Nevertheless, its diversity has proven to be disrupting social harmony as racism is rising in the country. Months ago, an Indian Jewish immigrant in the country was lynched to death by Israeli teens after assuming he was Chinese. People of other racial backgrounds such as Ethiopian Jews and Arab (Mizrahi) Jews have faced discrimination and are victims of hate crimes. Arabs in Israel face twice the discrimination, often excluded in policymaking, media, education, housing, and social life. The concept of an Israeli is often said to be closely aligned with European Whiteness. Although one might mistake it for White Supremacy, in reality, it is Zionism.

Simply defined, Zionism is Israel’s national ideology, seeking to establish a Jewish state in its ancestral homeland in the Middle East. This ideology pushed for the creation of Israel back in 1948. It garnered heightened support following the Holocaust in Europe. While, in its initial origins, Zionism seemed innocuous and a nationalist ideology one must support, over the decades, it has been manipulated into a nefarious, vile ideology. Today, affiliating with Zionism ultimately insinuates one’s support for the systemic apartheid Palestinians face in their territories and for upholding what is known as the world’s largest open-air prison. Modern Zionist rhetoric is used by politicians to express their disdain for Arabs. Recently, supporters of Lehava, a far-right, anti-Palestinian Israeli organization, went as far as chanting ‘Death to Arabs’, and proliferated hostility against them. The most vulnerable victims of these comments are Palestinians.

Palestinians have been confined in an Apartheid state since Israel’s inception. The torment commenced on May 15th 1948, now referred to as Nakba where around 750,000 Palestinians were displaced and Zionist forces annexed 78% of historic Palestine. Today, over 5 million people live in the remaining 22% of the land enclosed by checkpoints operated by Israeli Military Forces to isolate and segregate Palestinians from the rest of the world. The reality of Palestinians is difficult to report, as we witnessed when Shireen Abu Akleh was killed during her reporting of an IDF raid in a refugee camp in the city of Jenin in the West Bank region. The natives of the West Bank and Gaza must run through multitudes of paperwork and security checks to leave the area, ultimately trapped, and separated from the rest of Israel.

Yet still, Israeli forces remain to employ violence against Palestinians. Children are also targets, with over 2,000 being killed since the start of the century, and 54% suffering from severe PTSD. Israel is actively annexing Palestinian territories, displacing them in their own occupied homelands. Presently, Palestinians living in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in Jerusalem, are being expelled from their homes to create room for constructing Israeli neighbourhoods. Thereby demonstrating that Israelis and Palestinians cannot coexist and that the Israeli government will not allow it.

Although Hamas is violent, the military power dynamics are asymmetrical. The death rates between Israel and Palestine are disproportionate. Nonetheless, the actions of a particular group should not encourage further violence. Whether one-state or two-state, Palestine’s territory must be freed from Israeli occupation for human rights to prevail. Israel must also acknowledge and concede their actions instead of denying their involvement in the killings of innocent civilians and the affliction Palestinians are put through. They must accept accountability, and the US must quit siding with them blindly.

The actions of Israel are often described as defensive, and the Apartheid is accepted as nuanced. While Israeli people deserve their own homeland, there is no nuance to the killing of journalists and children, and the annexation of territories. One must not turn their eyes away from these violations of international law and human rights. In fact, we must accustom ourselves to calling it what it is: an Israeli System of Apartheid and Occupation of Palestine.


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