Throughout our lifetimes and the lifetimes of our parents, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been one of the most prominent international disputes. The issue influences nearly every international policy decision and new headlines are mentioned in the first pages of newspapers nearly daily.
Over the summer, the world’s attention was again focused on the region with the poor decision by the Trump administration to move the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. For anyone who knows even a little of the history of the region, Jerusalem is one of the most contested areas between the two states., with both Palestinians and Israelis claiming rule of it. In addition, it holds some of the most important landmarks of the three Abrahamic religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The decision to move the embassy was seen by many as a step in the wrong direction—an unnecessary step away from peace, and one harmful to gaining trust and establishing strong relationships with the Palestinians and other Middle Eastern nations, all of which are needed in any peace negotiations. It was a signal to the rest of the world that the US has officially abandoned its priority of playing peacemaker. The US government under this administration does not want peace.
If the US truly wanted peace between Israel and Palestine, they would speak the truth about what is really happening. Let’s call it as it is, Israel is an apartheid state. According to Article II of the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, which both Israel and the United States signed, the term ‘apartheid’ applies to acts "committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” According to the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Israel signed, national identity is included in the definition, which prohibits "any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin.” It’s hard to look past the evidence accusing Israel of systematically oppressing Palestinians throughout the last nearly seven decades. From taking land from the Palestinian state illegally through the creation of Jewish settlements, to the creation of hundreds of military checkpoints across Palestinian towns watched over by Israeli soldiers to the daily inhumane harassment, injuries, and killings of Palestinian, women, and even, children, the Israeli government has represented the most horrible traits of human beings every second of every day for the last 60+ years and counting.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NBC NEWS
In 2014, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a leader in the South African Anti-Apartheid movement and a worldwide renowned humanitarian, called the Israeli apartheid system oppressing Palestinians “humiliating” and called on the Christians of the world, specifically in the US, to speak out against the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government. Also in 2014, Noam Chomsky, one of the most prominent and respected thinkers in the world, labeled the Israeli apartheid of Palestine as “much worse than Apartheid in South Africa,” a point which many South African anti-apartheid leaders agreed with. Furthermore, late last year a United Nations report labeled Israel as an ‘apartheid state’ for the first time ever.
Most countries in the world and their populations have substantial vocal support and sympathy for the Palestinian people and their cause. Why does the US, the once great peacekeeper of the world, have to stand away from everyone else and show constant support for the Israeli government regardless of all the immorality, terror, and pain they cause for another people?
The next time the US thinks about the conflict and tries equiting the ‘pain’ on both sides, remember the full truth. When it comes to violence, the two countries cannot be compared. On one side you have stones, rocks, and short distance small rockets, while on the other side, you have one of the most powerful militaries in the world. And the next time we talk about the possibility of peace, remember one country just wants full control of their nation and population while the other imposes a system of apartheid and discrimination that undermine any control the Palestinians have over their own home. The next time they talk about the Palestinians as if they are as equal in the destruction of pain and lives due to this conflict, you just remind them about the truth about Israel, the truth they won’t tell you— apartheid.
Ellie is a sophomore International Relations major with a minor in Middle East Studies.