Accusations of Israeli Apartheid Are Completely Disconnected from the Ugly Realities of South African History

This week, the Israeli human-rights group B’tselem issued a statement claiming that the Jewish state as a whole practices “apartheid,” a term it has heretofore avoided. The statement appeared in English, and was duly reported on by CNN, NBC News, and other major American news outlets, suggesting that the group, once well respected in Israel, is now engaged in what Matti Friedman has termed the “moral striptease.” Through careful comparison with the realities of apartheid-era South Africa, Eugene Kotorovich dissects B’tselem’s argument:

Despite massive systematic oppression of racial and ethnic minorities in countries from China to Sri Lanka to Sudan, the apartheid label has never been applied to those countries or any other country by the U.S. or anyone else. Invoking the heinous crime of apartheid [is to accuse] Jews, uniquely among the peoples of the world, of one of the most heinous crimes, while also judging the Jewish state by a metric not applied to any other country. And the clear agenda is to delegitimize Israel entirely: the remedy for apartheid is not reform, it is the abolition of the regime itself and a total reshaping of the government.

Under [South Africa’s] Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953, municipal grounds could be reserved for a particular race, creating, among other things, separate beaches, buses, hospitals, schools, and universities. Inside of Israel there is no separation of this sort. In Judea and Samaria Israelis and Palestinians buy at the same stores, work together, etc. In South Africa public beaches, swimming pools, some pedestrian bridges, drive-in cinema parking spaces, parks, and public toilets were segregated. Restaurants and hotels were required to bar blacks. In Israel and all territories under its jurisdiction, Palestinians patronize the same shops and restaurants as Jews do.

Some policies do resemble apartheid rules—in particular, the Palestinian Authority’s prohibition, with severe penalties, of selling any real estate to Jews. Ironically, the closest thing in the region to an apartheid policy is not mentioned [by B’tselem] at all.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Anti-Zionism, apartheid, NGO, South Africa

 

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law