Who says Israel is guilty of Apartheid?

People often argue that “this and that were so in South Africa” and because “this and that are not so” in Israel, Israel is not an apartheid state. But such logic holds no water.


What is apartheid?

An article in the newspaper Star (13 March 2014, by Solly Mapaila ) correctly argues that the Jewish democracy’s laws and practices fall squarely into the United Nations’ definition of apartheid. In other words, Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is not defined in terms of the former South African situation, but in terms of international law which calls apartheid a crime against humanity (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 2002). The International Criminal Court’s definition of apartheid is

“the systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime” (2002:6).

Who says Israel is an apartheid state?

In 2012 the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination found Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territories “tantamount to Apartheid” and that

“many state policies within Israel also violate the prohibition on Apartheid as enshrined in Article 3 of the Convention.” (Erakat & Madi 2012)

Prior to that, in November 2011, the Russell Tribunal in Cape Town articulated similar findings.

Human Rights Watch in turn published a report titled “Israel/West Bank: Separate and Unequal” (2010) which details Israel’s discriminatory practices against the indigenous Palestinians.

And in 2009, the South African Human Sciences Research Council (2009:277) concluded their in-depth report as follows:

“Both colonialism and apartheid are prohibited by international law. This Report has found strong evidence to indicate that Israel has violated, and continues to violate, both prohibitions in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

An international team of scholars and practitioners of international public law from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Israel and Palestine conducted the study.


Surely most South Africans recognise Israel’s crimes, right?

As we benefitted from the world’s active support in demolishing apartheid, one would imagine that South Africans would now keenly respond to a plea to the international community for  non-violent resistance against Israel’s discrimination, oppression and occupation of Palestinians.

What is so shocking, is that so many South Africans do not know, or are not willing to acknowledge Israel’s apartheid crimes. The very people who suffered under apartheid and those who used to support apartheid, but say they have since changed, are now focusing on their own lives, their own comfort and their own problems and they turn a blind eye to another people who also suffer under apartheid. They forget that Palestinians helped to campaign for justice in South Africa during the apartheid struggle.

Does it mean that our transition to a post-apartheid psyche has only been cosmetic? In other words, is the change in our society superficial and not principled? Are we settling for pragmatic changes? Or perhaps we are ignorant about Israel’s crimes against humanity? Are we too comfortable to rock the boat?

Why do we turn away and continue to romanticise Israel? Why do we confuse the modern state with the Biblical entity? Why do Christians travel to the Holy Land and then ignore the descendents of the first Christians in the old city of Jerusalem, in Bethlehem, Jericho, Nablus, Hebron and elsewhere in Palestine? For how long must these people suffer while we, post-apartheid South Africans, look away and/or support Israel as some hero?  Can we really be happy, content and fulfilled as a new nation if we ignore a repetition of apartheid?  Is it fair to hide behind our own national issues and forget the world’s (and the Palestinians’) support in demolishing apartheid here?

A chance to know more…

If you want to know more, make sure to attend and participate in this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week. Our national initiatives from part of a worldwide campaign.


Find the schedule of activities in more than 45 cities and towns here.


Erakat, N. & Madi, R. 2012. UN Committee 2012 Session Concludes Israeli System Tantamount to Apartheid. [Online]. Jadaliyya. Available: [2014, 13 March].

Human Sciences Research Council.  2009. Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law.  Cape Town: HSRC.

Roadmap to Apartheid. 2012. Dir.: Ana Nogueira, Eron Davidson, Nathaniel Cunningham. Cinematography: Ana Nogueira. Narrator: Alice Walker. United States of America. ? ? min. English. Prod.: Ana Nogueira & Eron Davidson. Studio??

Russell Tribunal on Palestine. 2011. Executive summary of the findings of the third session of the RToP. A systematic and institutionalised regime. [Online]. Available: [2013, 21 September].

United Nations. 2002. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. [Online]. Available: [2012, 11 October].


Israeli Apartheid Week Campaign

South Africa’s 2014 IsraeliApartheidWeek campaign was launched today. Watch the inspiring IAW trailer – it will touch you.

The campaign involving events in more than 25 cities and towns involving students at more  has been endorsed by over 75 South African organizations including the South African Council of Churches (click here), South Africa’s ruling party the ANC (click here), South Africa’s largest trade union confederation COSATU (click here) and several other organizations. Click here for more information on IAW taking place in South Africa and how you can get involved.

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) was launched 10 years ago. Today it takes place in 150 international cities. is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, music shows, films and workshops) that raises awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies against the indigenous Palestinians and garners support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.


African National Congress (ANC), African National Congress Women’s League (ANC WL), African National Congress Youth League (ANC YL), Ahlul Bayt Youth Movement of South Africa (ABYMOSA), Amandla, Botswana National Front (BNF), Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS South Africa), Caring Women’s Forum (CWF), Centre for Civil Society (CCS), Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU), Coalition for a Free Palestine (CFP), Communication Workers Union (CWU), Congress of South African Students (COSAS), Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA), Embassy of Palestine in South Africa, Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), Friends of Cuba (FOCUS), Jamiatul Ulama of South Africa, Kairos Southern Africa, Islamic Medical Association of South Africa (IMA), Media Review Network (MRN), Mkhonto WeSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA), Muslim Professional Network (MPN), Muslim Youth Movement (MYM), National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Newcastle Sports Association (NCSA),Open Shuhada Street (OSS), Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA PE), Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA Port Shepstone), Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP), Pietermaritzburg For Palestine (PMB4PALESTINE), Police and Prison Civil Right Union (POPCRU), Rhodes University Palestine Solidarity Forum (Rhodes PSF), Runners For The Freedom of Palestine, Rustenburg Palestine Solidarity Forum (Rustenburg PSF), South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU), South African Artists Against Apartheid (SAAAA), South African Communist Party (SACP), South African Council of Churches (SACC), South African Council of Churches Youth Forum (SACCYF), South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), South African National Defence Union (SANDU), South African National Women’s Forum (SANWMF), South African Students Congress (SASCO), South African Union of Students (SAUS), Stellenbosch Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Stellenbosch PSC), StopTheJNF, Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), UKZN Theology & Development Programme (UKZN-T&D), Union of Muslim Students Association (MSA), University of Cape Town Palestine Solidarity (UCT PSF), University of Johannesburg Palestine Solidarity Forum (UJ PSF), University of Western Cape Palestine Solidarity Association (UWC PSA), Vaal Muslim Womens Forum (MWF), Wits University Palestine Solidarity Forum (Wits PSC), Johannesburg Workers Museum, Workers World Media Productions (WWMP), World Federation of Trade Union (WFTU), Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL), Zaytoun South Africa.

Click here to watch the 2014 Israeli Apartheid Week trailer.

Launch of Israeli Apartheid Week in South Africa


PRESS CONFERENCE INVITE: Launch of Israeli Apartheid Week in South Africa with Simphiwe Dana, former South African ambassador to Israel, representatives of national organizations and others [Sunday, 9 March 2014]

Members of the media are invited to a press conference this Sunday (09 March 2014) which will launch the 10th international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).


DATE: 09 March 2014

TIME: 11h00

VENUE: Workers Museum, 52 Jeppe Street, Newtown (Opposite Sci-Bono Museum)


– Musician, Simphiwe Dana

– Palestinian Ambassador to South Africa, H.E. Hafiz Nofal

– Former South African Ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia

– Israeli Author of “The General’s Son”, Miko Peled

– Mayor of Johannesburg and Chairperson of ANC JHB Region, Parks Tau (TBC)

– Deputy General Secretary of the South African Communist Party, Solly Mapaila

– 2nd Deputy President of COSATU, Zingiswa Losi

– Deputy President of the South African Students Congress, Thabo Mlotja

– Deputy National Secretary, Alex Mashilo
– Deputy President of South African Union of Students, Tebogo Thotela

– President of South African Council of Churches Youth Forum, Vuyani Pule

– Coordinator of Swaziland Solidarity Network, Lucky Lukhele

– General Secretary of Friends of Cuba Society (FOCUS)

– Spokesperson for Stop The JNF (a group of progressive Jews in solidarity with the Palestinians), Alan Horwitz

– Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Neeshan Bolton
– Kairos Southern Africa, Stiaan van der Merwe

– International Relations Secretary of ANC Youth League, Rebone Tau

At the Sunday 09th of March press conference the full schedule of IAW events for the upcoming week will be released to the media including details of which Government Ministers, artists, church leaders and others will be speaking during and for Israeli Apartheid Week as well as what sporting and cultural events will be hosted.

Media are invited to conduct interviews with members of the Israeli Apartheid Week campaign. Interviews, debates, radio shows and TV discussions can be arranged in all South African languages and in all South African cities and towns.

This year the 10th international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) campaign will be held in over over 250 cities across the world, including in more than 25 South African cities, towns and universities. Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) will be held in South Africa between the 10th and 16th of March and organisers indicate that it will be the biggest IAW since it was first launched in 2004. To date over 75 South African organisations across the country including South Africa’s ruling-party the African National Congress, South Africa’s largest trade union confederation, COSATU; the South African Council of Churches; and several other civil society organisations  have endorsed the IAW campaign.

IAW is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, music shows, films and workshops) that seek to raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies against the indigenous Palestinians and garner support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign which is aimed to bring an end to Israel’s apartheid policies and violations of international law.


IAW South Africa National Convenor, Muhammed Desai:
+27 (0) 842119988
IAW South Africa National Spokesperson, Kwara Kekana:
+27 (0) 72 449 1774

+27 (0) 72 449 1774
Website: or


SA’s ruling party supports Israeli Apartheid Week

iaw South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) declared their unequivocal  support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination. In support for the upcoming Israel Apartheid Week(10 – 16 March) they said:

The ANC recognises that the international anti-Apartheid movement and sanctions campaign was shouldered, taken on and defended by thousands of ordinary citizens from numerous countries around the world. These ordinary citizens, made our struggle, their life. We are forever indebted to them.

Today we humbly continue the internationalism of our movement in lending our solidarity to the people of Cuba, Western Sahara, Swaziland, Palestine and other struggling people.

The ANC is proud to join the over 75 South African organisations, trade unions, civil society groups, schools, universities, religious communities, NGOs and other formations in participating in this year’s 10th International Israeli Apartheid Week. The vast array of participating organisations is an indication of our vibrant democracy.

The ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel.

In participating in IAW this year we recall the words of our late President, Oliver Tambo: “The ANC feels most honored…to address the international community…on the important question of Palestine – a question with which the people of South Africa fully identify”.

Issued by
Obed Bapela
Chairperson of the ANC NEC SubCommittee on International Relations

Keith Khoza 0828239672
Khusela Sangoni 0728545707

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