Thursday, April 4, 2013

Beyond South Africa: Understanding Israeli Apartheid

Samer Abdelnour
Much analysis of Israeli apartheid focuses on comparisons with South Africa. Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Samer Abdelnour argues that the specific characteristics of Israel’s unique brand of apartheid need to be better understood in order to successfully dismantle it. He identifies three inter-locking dimensions of Israeli apartheid: physical, architecture, and ideological. Examining apartheid through these dimensions, he reveals Israeli apartheid to be far more sophisticated than that of South Africa and suggests directions for thinking and action to overcome Israel apartheid.

The Colonial Roots of Apartheid

“Israeli Apartheid” is a commonly used term to describe the racial violence and segregation enshrined in Israel’s institutions.1 Though Israel’s most ardent supporters will continue to resist the rhetoric of apartheid, the reality of apartheid in Israel is unmistakable. But, what exactly is apartheid? And how might we understand Israel’s apartheid system?
Apartheid is a complex system of racial violence, segregation, and dispossession. The roots of apartheid are colonial; Europeans have long used apartheid practices to devastate the indigenous peoples they colonized and Europe’s “undesirables” alike. Modern apartheid systems, like South Africa and Israel, evolved from historical practices of mobility restriction and internment. Just as Afrikaners learned from Canada's reservation system in the early 1900s2, Israel implements practices reminiscent of apartheid-era South Africa.
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