In a recent speech at Bar-Ilan University, Barak made a point previously made by Olmert and Sharon (and many others):
“We must take this painful step [to withdraw from large portions of the West Bank]. There are millions of Palestinians in this region. If they vote, this will become a binational state, and if not—an apartheid state.”
This is not a particularly profound, nor novel, thought.
Continually ruling over millions of people while denying them the right to vote, to move, to control their own borders and resources, to farm their land, to not be imprisoned without charge or extrajudicially executed by their enemies in the middle of the night, and so on, is apartheid as a matter of definition. Indeed, all these things together would be far worse than South African apartheid, which was not nearly as militarized as the current regime in the West Bank and Gaza.
So we (in the most inclusive sense that encompasses even large portions of Israel’s right-wing) agree on this. Now we can move forward.
Proof of apartheid
Here goes the very complicated proof that Israel is currently an apartheid state:
Step 1 (Barak’s definition of apartheid): Ruling over millions of people through military occupation without allowing them essential civil and political rights will constitute apartheid.
Step 2: Today, millions of Palestinians live under such a military occupation without such rights. QED.
Therefore, the current Israeli regime over the Palestinians is an apartheid regime. That’s all there is to it.
For completeness, I include the legal definition of apartheid, as established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which fails to make the same arbitrary temporal distinction between the present and future that Barak and Olmert like to make:
Inhumane acts of a character similar to other crimes against humanity (including murder, extermination, deportation or forcible transfer of a population, imprisonment, torture, etc), which are “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.” (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court).
Now that this intellectual machinery is in place, its time to move forward in our thinking and debate toward the most effective, proven, and nonviolent method of dealing with intransigent apartheid regimes: boycott, divestment, and sanctions.