Letter to the Editor: “Build Bridges Not Apartheid Walls”

Nadine Aly

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It is common practice for Zionist students at FAU to comment on SJP’s mock Israeli Apartheid Wall by referring to it as a “security fence,” claiming that the term “wall” is misleading and incorrect. Such tired propaganda was negated in July of 2004 when the International Court of Justice issued in its Advisory Opinion that the wall Israel is constructing around the Occupied Palestinian Territories is in breach of International Law. The ICJ has referred to this gross violation of International Law as a wall—not a fence or a barrier—a wall. The ICJ judges ruled 15-0 that the term “wall” was best suited to describe the structure. The court made it clear that the wall and the settlements being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal, and yet Israel continues to systematically flout international law with impunity. Another Zionist propaganda soundbite is to claim that the wall has “significantly reduced Israeli civilian casualties.” However, according to the Shin Bet (Israel’s Internal Security Service), the wall is no longer considered a major factor in reducing terrorist attacks. If the wall is no longer considered a major factor, why is Israel still building it? And if the wall is sincerely a precaution for security, why hasn’t Israel built it on its own territory, or on the internationally recognized pre-June 1967 border (also known as the Green Line) which separates the Occupied Palestinian Territories from Israel proper? Simply put, the wall is being built for alternative reasons: to advance Israel’s colonization and annexation of Palestinian land.

[email protected] displayed a mock Apartheid Wall and a mock military checkpoint to raise awareness about the discrimination, segregation and dehumanization of the Palestinian people who are forcefully subjected to Israeli military control within their own territories. The overwhelming majority of the wall is built inside the West Bank, confiscating roughly 10% of Palestinian land while creating ghettos in regions like Salfit, one of the most fertile lands of the West Bank. The Apartheid Wall divides Salfit from its sister cities and neighbors, and will illegally use more than three-fourths of its land. The Apartheid Wall rips through Palestinian villages and neighborhoods, uprooting families who have lived there for generations before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. It also damages social and economic ties by ghettoizing areas stolen by Israel’s mission to make Jerusalem their future capital city, significantly disadvantaging the religious Christian and Muslim minorities in and around the Holy City. Illegal checkpoints put in place by the Israeli military have become lethally restrictive to the point where 67 women giving birth at Israeli checkpoints and 36 babies have died from lack of medical attention (from 2000 to 2005), causing women to either resort to home births or relocate closer to a hospital when they expect to birth. Doubtless, such impositions create a grave, inhumane quality of life for the native Palestinian population. The international community has condemned the construction of the wall, the illegal ongoing military occupation, and the 100+ checkpoints within the Occupied Palestinian Territories numerous times at the United Nations General Assembly.

The ICJ Advisory Opinion states that “Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto […]  Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem.” By the end of the wall’s construction, Israel will have successfully annexed approximately half of the West Bank; further advancing its immoral, illegal, and inexcusable violations of international law.

In 1973 the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.  The ICSPCA defines the crime of apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group … over another racial group … and systematically oppressing them.” In 2002 the crime of apartheid was further defined by Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as encompassing inhumane acts such as torture, murder, forcible transfer, imprisonment, or persecution of an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, or other grounds, “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” With this in mind, let’s take a look at Israeli policy and its treatment of Palestinian people: according to Amnesty International and Ben White’s book “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide,” the Israeli government conducts its decades-long military occupation of Palestinian territory; confiscation of privately owned Palestinian land; illegal construction of Israeli settlements; restriction of water resources; fragmentation of Palestine; exile and “compulsory transfer” of Palestinians (otherwise known as ethnic cleansing); denial of their Right of Return; imposed military checkpoints that hinder or forbid mobility and communication; Jewish-only roads; an illegal Apartheid Wall; arbitrary imprisonment, indefinite detainment, and torture of Palestinian men, women and children; restriction of access to holy sites and medical resources; demolition of Palestinian homes, farms, and businesses; routine military brutality resulting in countless Palestinian deaths even during “peacetimes” or “ceasefires”; and discriminatory laws and bureaucratic policies against Palestinians and Arabs within Israel. One may attempt to, however ham-handedly, justify such atrocities which constitute the crime of apartheid and gross human rights violations, but no one can deny they are taking place.

Many Zionists will attempt to corner Palestinian rights advocates with the irrelevant question “have you ever been to Israel?” as though a carefully guided tour of Israeli clubs, a photoshoot at an interfaith holy site, and a camel ride would cause us to question our commitment to anti-apartheid, anti-colonialism, and anti-occupation. To those who would derail this discourse in such a way (and to anyone who abhors the crime against humanity that is apartheid), consider that Archbishop Desmond Tutu, veteran anti-apartheid figure and human rights champion, who both experienced the atrocities of South African apartheid and has been to Israel and Palestine, made headlines in 2002 with the publication of his article “Apartheid in the Holy Land,” in which he described himself as “deeply distressed” to be reminded “so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.” The Archbishop affirmed, as does SJP @ FAU, that “Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people.”

Nadine Aly is a junior at FAU majoring in Political Science and minoring in French. She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, a former FAU Boca Raton House Representative and was the president of [email protected] and an FAU Boca Raton Senator until the sanctions were handed down. Now she is the unofficial president of [email protected] and unofficial Vice-President of Dream Defenders @ FAU.