Israeli occupation of Palestine equates to apartheid, academics say
Over 900 academics and public figures from the occupied Palestine and other nations have signed on to an open letter equating Israel's decades-long occupation of Palestinian territories with apartheid.
Titled “The Elephant in the Room,” the letter complains that American Jews have paid insufficient attention to “Israel’s long-standing occupation that… has yielded a regime of apartheid.”
It also called on the Jewish leaders in the US to “help end the occupation, restrict American military aid from being used in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and end Israeli impunity in the UN and other international organizations.”
As of Wednesday, the letter has been signed by 904 figures from Israel, Palestine and elsewhere.
Omer Bartov, professor at Brown University and organizer of the letter, said that there were a number of Israeli signatories to the letter, who would have previously refused to equate the occupation with apartheid.
“The main change is that Israeli behavior, in the West Bank, but also apparently unfolding vis-a-vis Israel’s Arabs now, has become increasingly brutal over the past few years, and especially more in the past half year. It has made more and more people realize that continued occupation is morally and politically impossible,” he told the Middle East Eye (MEE) news portal.
“The broad inclusion of so many academics representing a stunningly broad spectrum of distinguished Jewish voices, indicates a watershed moment also in American Jewish views about Israel, and a new willingness by public figures, reflecting the sentiments of the younger generation, to honestly criticize Israeli policies.”
Additionally, the letter drew “a direct link” between Israel’s contentious judicial overhaul plan and its illegal occupation of millions of Palestinians.
“The ultimate purpose of the judicial overhaul is to tighten restrictions on Gaza, deprive Palestinians of equal rights…, annex more land, and ethnically cleanse all territories under Israeli rule of their Palestinian population,” the letter read.
The Israeli oppression of Palestinians has witnessed a sharp rise under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s extremist coalition cabinet, which is composed of far-right Zionist parties that oppose Palestinian statehood and support the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied lands.
Over the past months, the usurping regime has intensified attacks against Palestinian towns. As a result of these attacks, dozens of Palestinians have lost their lives and many others have been arrested.
The letter added, “Palestinian people lack almost all basic rights, including the right to vote and protest. They face constant violence: this year alone, Israeli forces have killed over 190 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and demolished over 590 structures. Settler vigilantes burn, loot, and kill with impunity.”