Israeli Arabs want to set July 19 as Apartheid Day

A spokesman for Barakeh’s committee said that if approved there would be international activities to mark the day around the world, including in Israel and in South Africa.

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August 19, 2018 12:54
2 minute read.
Palestinian flags flutter at a protest against the Nation-State Law in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv

Palestinian flags flutter at a protest against the Nation-State Law in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 11th, 2018. (photo credit: KOBI RICHTER/TPS)

 
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July 19, the date on which the Knesset passed the Jewish Nation-State Law, should be set as International Israel Apartheid Day, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee decided over the weekend.

The committee is an independent political organization whose aim is to coordinate the political actions of various Israeli-Arab bodies. However, it does not represent Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza. The committee is comprised of Arab MKs, Arab local council heads and representatives of different streams in the Arab sector.

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The decision still requires approval by the Palestinian Authority and representatives of Palestinians who live abroad, who could recommend a different date. The head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, former MK Mohammad Barakeh, will meet with PA leaders in early September to seek that approval.

“That is the day of the apartheid law being passed, which makes Israeli Arabs second-class citizens,” Barakeh told The Jerusalem Post. “Our defining it as apartheid is based on a study that found our situation similar to apartheid in South Africa and the American South before the Civil War. It’s not a political decision but a fact.”

When reminded that unlike nonwhite South Africans under apartheid, Israeli Arabs have the rights to vote and be elected and that he himself served 16 years in the Knesset, including a decade as its deputy speaker, Barakeh responded that he still believed it was similar. He added that he did not believe the comparison was offensive to South Africans who endured apartheid.

“Our marking the apartheid of Israel does not diminish the apartheid of South Africa,” Barakeh said. “That was a crime and what Israel is doing a crime. Israel is a democracy, but our Joint List does not have the same rights as all the other parties, because Labor and Yesh Atid have both said they would not form a coalition with us. Rabin was the only one willing, and he paid the price of his life.”

A spokesman for Barakeh’s committee said that if it is approved, there will be activities to mark the day around the world, including in Israel and in South Africa. He said study sessions on the subject would be encouraged in schools.

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“We can learn from what has been done successfully by BDS activists on North American college campuses and implement their ideas,” the spokesman said, referring to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

Meanwhile, Peace Now mocked the recent detaining at airports and border crossings of Americans who support boycotts of Israel by writing on Twitter that they would sell “passport covers” saying “I love Netanyahu” and “I love Sara.” Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Michael Oren reacted with dismay.

‘’The Palestinians have another day of rage, another day of hate. They have only themselves to blame,’’ he said. “Such days will not bring the Palestinians any closer to peace.”

Likud MK Amir Ohana, who headed the committee that legislated the law, said Barakeh was whitewashing the South African apartheid regime by comparing it to Israel.

He said there was no way the third largest party in South Africa would have been black, or that a black judge would have sentenced a president to prison during apartheid.

“Apparently, everything is kosher to besmirch Israel, the only democracy where Arabs enjoy human rights, freedom of expression, LGBT rights and freedom for women,” he said.

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