How can the U.S. president reject the “Apartheid” characterization of Israel when 60% of Israeli Jews support segregation of Palestinian-Israelis?

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

When President Biden met with caretaker Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid, the two issued a joint statement that rejected ‘Apartheid’ as a descriptor for Israel. In contrast, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, and the UN Rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories, Michael Lynk, have all concluded in the past year or so, despite a previous reluctance, that the situation in Israel and Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories fits the definition of Apartheid in international law (such as the Rome Statute that underpins the International Criminal Court). The allegation is not that the situation precisely resembles that in Apartheid South Africa in all particulars. The word is now a term of art in international law and refers to the systematic disadvantaging of one ethnic group, on the basis of their ethnicity, by another.

Israel forces attack worshippers in al-Aqsa Mosque

One of the hallmarks of regimes of Apartheid (including Jim Crow in the United States) is coercive residential segregation.

So it is ominous that according to Or Kashti at Haaretz, a poll by the Israeli Institute for Democracy this spring found that 60% of Israeli Jews believe that Jews and “Arabs” (i.e. Israelis of Palestinian heritage, what I call Palestinian-Israelis) should “live apart.”

This attitude is not about the stateless Palestinians under Israeli military Occupation in the West Bank. We are talking about the 20 percent of Israeli citizens who are of Palestinian heritage.

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