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I have long rejected claims that Israel is an apartheid state. Now I believe that is where it is heading

TJI Pick
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I have long rejected claims that Israel is an apartheid state. Now I believe that is where it is heading

Published: 22 August 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

BENJAMIN POGRUND grew up in South Africa and vigorously refuted parallels with Israel. But he believes the charge is becoming fact.

In 2001, I joined Israel’s government delegation to the world conference against racism in Durban. The government of Ariel Sharon invited me because after a quarter-century as a journalist in South Africa, my specialty was reporting on apartheid close up.
At the conference, I was disturbed and angered by the multitude of lies and exaggerations about Israel.  I have argued with all my might against the accusation that Israel is an apartheid state – in lectures, newspaper articles, on TV and in a book.
However, the accusation is becoming fact. First, the nation-state law elevates Jews above fellow citizens who are Arab – Muslim, Druze, Bedouin and Christian. Every day sees government ministers and their allies venting racism and following up with discriminatory actions.
Second, Israel can no longer claim security as the reason for our behaviour in the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. After 56 years, our occupation can no longer be explained as temporary, pending a solution to the conflict with Palestinians. We are heading toward annexation, with  the population of Jewish settlers in the West Bank, which  stands at about 500,000. The army is fully complicit in the illegal seizure of land and the creation of settlement outposts. The government misuses many millions of shekels for settlers. It abuses its own laws. Settlers kill Palestinians and destroy houses and cars. The courts seldom intervene. Soldiers stand by and watch.
The government is driving Israel deeper and deeper into inhuman, cruel behaviour beyond any defence. I don’t have to be religious to know that this is a shameful betrayal of Jewish morality and history.

I have long rejected claims that Israel is an apartheid state. Now I believe that is where it is heading (Guardian)

As Israeli settlements thrive, Palestinian taps run dry. The water crisis reflects a broader battle (AP)
Across the dusty villages of the occupied West Bank, where Israeli water pipes don’t reach, date palms have been left to die. Greenhouses are empty and deserted. Palestinians say they can barely get enough water to bathe their children and wash their clothes — let alone sustain livestock and grow fruit trees.

EU ‘appalled’ by IDF razing of Palestinian school, demands compensation (Jerusalem Post)
In a move opposed by international voices, Israel has demolished a Palestinian elementary school in the West Bank.

Smotrich reportedly advancing plan to legalize 155 wildcat outposts in West Bank (Times of Israel)
Far-right minister starting with legalisation of 15 illegal communities; official laments that government helpless to stop it because Smotrich controls both relevant offices.

‘The only thing that holds them accountable is a camera’ (The Nation)
After cofounding Youth Against Settlements, Palestinian activist Issa Amro started giving tours of Hebron, allowing participants to see the violence of Israeli occupation firsthand.

PHOTO: Palestinians cool down in a spring in Auja, in the Jordan Valley,  where Israeli water pipes don’t reach (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg) 

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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