Israel And The A-Word

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 23 2012 @ 5:10pm

Yousef Munayyer, at Zion Square, talks definition:

"The 1998 Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court defines Apartheid as actions or policies “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime” … The question of Apartheid in Israel, or in any place for that matter, comes down to a simple test based on the Rome Statute: Would merely granting full human rights (including suffrage) to persons of all ethnic and religious backgrounds ruled by a regime, or whose human rights are systematically denied by that regime, fundamentally challenge the regime itself? If the answer is yes, then it is Apartheid. If the answer is no, then it is not."

Beinart counters:

[I]f Israel gets branded an apartheid state although Palestinian Arabs sit in the Knesset and on the Supreme Court, how should we classify Syria, where Palestinian refugees and their descendants are not allowed to vote or become citizens? Or Lebanon, where Palestinians cannot own property or work in numerous prestigious professions? If Israel practices apartheid towards its Palestinian Arab citizens, what should we call Saudi treatment of its Shia minority, who cannot serve as judges in ordinary courts? And what about migrants throughout the Gulf who are barred from citizenship on ethnic grounds?

In an ugly region, these are valid points. But wasn't Israel supposed to be different and better? And isn't Greater Israel undermining Israel itself on these grounds?