Democracy and Apartheid
If democracy is not defined as global direct democracy having highest authority, then every tyranny and oligarchy will declare itself a democracy. We already see this everywhere from North Korea, a dictatorship; to the US, a constitutional republic; to Israel, an apartheid regime.
Kerry confirmed that Israel’s settlements are illegal; that they are not constructed for Israel’s security but rather make Israel less secure. It was heartening to hear Kerry talk about Israel’s destruction of Palestinian homes, its theft of Palestinian land for settlements, and its refusal to allow Palestinians to build or live freely on their own land. He spoke of checkpoints and occupation. In short, Kerry described a reality that Palestinians have lived for 50 years: apartheid.
Yet, even if realized, Kerry’s principles for a future peace will not end Israeli apartheid, but instead reward and perpetuate it. Take, for example, his statement that future borders must “reflect practical realities on the ground.” Sounds fair, but these “practical realities,” resulting from decades of Israeli settlement construction, ensure that a Palestinian state will never be contiguous but will be, in Kerry’s own words, a “Swiss cheese” statelet surrounded and dominated by Israel.
Although Palestinians have twice officially recognized Israel, by further demanding that we recognize it as a “Jewish state,” Kerry asks Palestinians to endorse the permanent second class status of Palestinian citizens of Israel, nearly 20 percent of Israel’s population, who are already subject to scores of discriminatory laws that privilege Jewish citizens. And by stipulating that any solution for Palestinian refugees must not affect the “fundamental character of Israel,” Kerry negates our internationally recognized right to return to our homeland so that Israel can maintain a Jewish majority. In short, Palestinians are required to relinquish their rights to accommodate Israel’s wrongs.
-Diana Buttu, “Kerry describes a reality that Palestinians are living", The Boston Globe1
What we’ve been hearing is that they want Israel recognized as a Jewish state and what we’re not interrogating is that 25% of Israel’s population is Christian and Muslim Palestinians who are native to that land. Asking Israel to be recognized as a Jewish state is liking saying, “The US is not for Americans. The US is for White folks, and so everybody else will be secondary in status”--a status that Palestinian citizens of Israel already experience as a fifth column. But now, if the Palestinians recognize it as such, they’re basically going to say we’re okay with an explicit racist, apartheid regime. And we should be condemning Israel for that request rather than berating Palestinians for failing to fall into line with that.
-Noura Erakat, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, CNN2
This report establishes, on the basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. However, only a ruling by an international tribunal in that sense would make such an assessment truly authoritative. The authors therefore urge the United Nations to implement this finding by fulfilling its international responsibilities in relation to international law and the rights of the Palestinian people as a matter of urgency, for two reasons. First, the situation addressed in the report is ongoing. Many investigations of crimes against humanity have concerned past behaviour or events, such as civil wars involving genocides, which have formally concluded. In such cases, the international community faces no particular pressure to act in a timely way to terminate an ongoing crime prior to investigating the legal facts of culpability. In the case of Israel-Palestine, any delay compounds the crime by prolonging the subjugation of Palestinians to the active practice of apartheid by Israel. Prompt action is accordingly imperative to avert further human suffering and end a crime against humanity that is being committed now.
Secondly, the extreme gravity of the charge requires prompt action. Since the 1970s, when the international campaign to oppose apartheid in southern Africa gathered momentum, apartheid has been considered in the annals of the United Nations and world public opinion to be second only to genocide in the hierarchy of criminality. (Genocide and apartheid are the only two international crimes, the commission of which States have a duty to prevent.) This report accordingly recommends that the international community act immediately, without waiting for a more formal pronouncement regarding the culpability of the State of Israel, its Government and its officials for the commission of the crime of apartheid.
-"Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid", Palestine and the Israeli Occupation3
Israel's crimes are so severe that they deviate between apartheid and genocide. This has prompted Noam Chomsky to declare that the situation is worse than apartheid:
Many reasons. Take, say, the term "apartheid." In the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much worse than apartheid. To call it apartheid is a gift to Israel, at least if by "apartheid" you mean South African-style apartheid. What’s happening in the Occupied Territories is much worse. There’s a crucial difference. The South African Nationalists needed the black population. That was their workforce. It was 85 percent of the workforce of the population, and that was basically their workforce. They needed them. They had to sustain them. The bantustans were horrifying, but South Africa did try to sustain them. They didn’t put them on a diet. They tried to keep them strong enough to do the work that they needed for the country. They tried to get international support for the bantustans.
The Israeli relationship to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories is totally different. They just don’t want them. They want them out, or at least in prison. And they’re acting that way. That’s a very striking difference, which means that the apartheid analogy, South African apartheid, to the Occupied Territories is just a gift to Israeli violence. It’s much worse than that. If you look inside Israel, there’s plenty of repression and discrimination. I’ve written about it extensively for decades. But it’s not apartheid. It’s bad, but it’s not apartheid. So the term, I just don’t think is applicable.
-Noam Chomsky, 'Noam Chomsky: Israel's Actions in Palestine are "Much Worse Than Apartheid" in South Africa', Democracy Now4
In terms of severity, Israel's situation lies between apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany where Jews were held in concentration camps and systematically exterminated. The ESCWA report says Israel's situation is not severe enough to warrant the charge of genocide, but says it definitely satisfies the criteria for apartheid. Noam Chomsky says the situation is more severe than apartheid. From what I've seen (especially from the 2014 Gaza Massacre), Israel's behaviour is skirting on genocide. Regardless, the ESCWA report states:
Since the 1970s, when the international campaign to oppose apartheid in southern Africa gathered momentum, apartheid has been considered in the annals of the United Nations and world public opinion to be second only to genocide in the hierarchy of criminality. (Genocide and apartheid are the only two international crimes, the commission of which States have a duty to prevent.) 
Thus, whether Israel's situation is one of apartheid, genocide, or somewhere in between, the international community does have a duty to prevent any further criminality.
Apartheid in southern Africa was brought to an end, in part, by the cumulative impact of a variety of measures, including economic sanctions and sports boycotts, undertaken with the blessing of United Nations bodies and many Member States, and with grassroots support in States with strong strategic and economic ties with South Africa. The effectiveness of the anti-apartheid campaign was in large part due to the transnational activism of civil society, which reinforced the intergovernmental consensus that took shape in the United Nations.5
- 1. Buttu, Diana. "Kerry describes a reality that Palestinians are living". The Boston Globe. 30 Dec. 2016, https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/12/30/kerry-describes-reality-t... Accessed 2 Apr. 2017.
- 2. Erakat, Noura. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. CNN. 28 Dec. 2016, https://www.facebook.com/JewishVoiceforPeace/posts/10155608566214992 Accessed 2 Apr. 2017.
- 3. "Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid". Palestine and the Israeli Occupation, Issue No. 1. ESCWA (Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia), 2017, p. 52, https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/un-official-resigns-af... Accessed 2 Apr. 2017.
- 4. Chomsky, Noam. 'Noam Chomsky: Israel's Actions in Palestine are "Much Worse Than Apartheid" in South Africa'. Democracy Now. 8 Aug. 2014, https://www.democracynow.org/2014/8/8/noam_chomsky_what_israel_is_doing Accessed 2 Apr. 2017.
- 5. "Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid". Palestine and the Israeli Occupation, Issue No. 1. ESCWA (Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia), 2017, p. 53, https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/un-official-resigns-af... Accessed 2 Apr. 2017.