USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Israel is guilty of apartheid and colonization

Posted by uscsjp on March 23, 2007

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights

Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the world comes together to reaffirm that racial discrimination is an assault on the foundation of the human rights system – the principle of equality. On this occasion, Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated, “a society that tolerates discrimination holds itself back, foregoing the contribution of whole parts of its population, and potentially sowing the seeds of violent conflict.” She added that despite the fact that many states have accepted to fight racial discrimination “a reality check demonstrates that formal commitments are not enough.”

Thirteen years after the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa, Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and in Israel still face multiple forms of racial discrimination, including occupation, apartheid and colonization.

In the past few weeks, Israel has come under criticism from both the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the OPT for its regime of institutionalized discrimination.

Since 1948, Israeli laws have been shaped not only to prevent the return of about 7 million Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons, but also to change the demographic composition of Israel and the OPT.  This population transfer is aided by the Israeli Law of Return, which allows any Jew in the world to ‘return’ to Israel and be granted citizenship.  According to CERD, the denial of the rights of many Palestinians to return and possess their homes in Israel “is discriminatory and perpetuates violations of fundamental human rights.” CERD also applied the concept of apartheid to some of Israel’s practices towards Palestinian citizens of Israel, notably in the managment of land and resources.

The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the OPT, Prof. John Dugard concluded that  Israel’s discriminatory practices towards Palestinians amount to apartheid and colonization. Since 2002, thousands of Palestinians have been displaced by the construction of the Wall and its associated regime, something that Dugard criticized saying that “the “closed zone” is gradually being “cleansed” of Palestinians, where land will in due course be transferred to land-greedy settlers.” He called upon the International Court of Justice to rule over the legal consequences arising from the Israeli regime of occupation in the OPT, as was done in the case of apartheid South Africa. (continued)

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