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From the field

A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid

Dear friend, 

We can keep pretending there’s no connection between the destruction of Um al-Hiran in the Negev Desert to make way for the Jewish community of Hiran and the destruction – on the other side of the Green Line – of Susiya, the Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills, for sake of Susiya, the Jewish settlement. We can go on pretending we don’t understand the deep meaning of a military order decreeing that any Jew from anywhere in the world can enter the seam zone whenever they choose, but Palestinian subjects must get a permit to do so. We can continue pretending that 75% of eligible voters in Karnei Shomron turning up for the elections for the 23rd Knesset was a celebration of democracy when in Nablus – just a few kilometers to the east – there are no eligible voters. We can continue acting as if the regime in the West Bank, in place for more than half a century, is a result of some sort of military coup staged by the GOC Central Command who has been governing the area entirely independently of Israeli government – all governments – policy. We can make believe that it’s conceivable – even democratic! – that half the people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean are Jewish and half are Palestinians, but that this demographic equilibrium is the only thing that’s equal about living here.

And we can also, just, stop.

Today, B’Tselem releases its position paper: A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid. It is the first time in B’Tselem’s more than thirty-year history, since its founding in 1989 during the first intifada, that we publish an analysis addressing reality in the entire area controlled by Israel rather than only the Occupied Territories.

We are not doing this hastily or frivolously, but following an in-depth analysis of the facts. Facts, that show that the concept of Israel as a democracy (within the Green Line), with temporary military occupation next door (beyond the Green Line), is clearly divorced from reality. Worse still, this framing normalizes the lie that these are two separate regimes rather than one. It forever pushes the moment of reckoning, when we have to face facts and admit that the temporary has become permanent, into a future that will never come.

That moment has come.

You are invited to read the full position paper, to see how, despite the differences in Palestinians’ status in each of the geographical units controlled by Israel, as described in the paper, the Israeli regime applies the same organizing principle in the entire area – promoting and perpetuating the supremacy of one group, Jews, over another, Palestinians. The position paper also explains why we have reached this conclusion at this particular time and what this has to do with the 2018 Nation State Basic Law and the 2020 statements about annexing more parts of the West Bank beyond East Jerusalem.

As we release the position paper, we are also launching a broad public campaign, which includes an interactive version of the paper’s key points. We would be grateful if you take a look, share these and pass them along to others to help us reshape the public discourse on this issue.

Apartheid is not set in stone: It’s a regime created by people, and people can change it too. It is, however, difficult – impossible – to change reality if one refrains from calling things by their proper name. Apartheid. The sober, accurate, and timely look at this reality is a moment of hope, a call for change towards a future of justice, equality and rights – a future that will come.

Hagai El-Ad
Executive Director