A Letter to the Editor from Students for Justice in Palestine
Last week, an article was released in the Eastern Echo titled “A Mirrored Reflection of Apartheid.” While it is no surprise that colonizer rhetoric tends to dictate and the misconstrue the discourse surrounding oppressed peoples liberation struggle in effort to demonize organizing efforts, there are multiple claims that we would like to clear up since this article was a direct response to the mock Apartheid wall that Students for Justice in Palestine painted on the Freedom Walls.
It seems that the issue focused in on is the game of semantics to deter from the real issue, which is brutal military occupation. The language used in pro-Palestinian discourse is anti-colonial and anti-imperialist in nature - the “Israeli-Palestine” conflict, is not a conflict, but rather apartheid. We call it how it is - it’s a black and white issue that does not have room for normalization. The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid defines apartheid as "inhumane acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group ... over another racial group ... and systematically oppressing them". This U.N definition of apartheid includes murder, displacement, torture, and persecution on ethnic or racial grounds, all of which Palestinians experience in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israeli Occupied Palestine.
Examples include the displacement of Palestinians, the dual road system that bans Palestinians from using roads developed for settlements, and the dual political system in place that makes it so Israelis are governed by Civil Law where as Palestinians are governed and convicted under Military Law. Palestinians in the West Bank are also subject to nightly raids, military checkpoints, and imprisonment without trial. Rather than play the game of semantics and deflecting from the topic of military occupation, we must denounce real issues like institutionalized racism and walls that are used to economically stratify and isolate Palestinians from their land, families and employment.
There is a 403 mile long wall in the West Bank, eight times the size of the Berlin Wall, that acts as a separation barrier that isolates Palestinian families and individuals - restricting the movement of Palestinian peoples and goods. While colonialist narratives claim that this is a security measure, which implies that all Palestinians are inherently violent and a security threat to Israel (an ahistorical and orientalist claim) the Apartheid Wall serves no purpose other than to stratify Palestinian people and land - it does not act as a security measure. Israel, a settler-colonial entity, has established its existence through the subjugation of the indigenous Palestinian population and the Wall serves as a reminder of that.
These are just a few, of many reasons, as to why we use the term “Apartheid” when discussing the occupation of Palestine. Finally, to debunk the absurd claim that all of Palestine is under Hamas control. This statement has zero nuance on forms of institutionalized colonialism and “peace processes” such as the Oslo Accords that erected governing bodies such as the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority is the administrative body that “controls” Gaza and (most of) the West Bank, but still answers to the Israeli government and does not have complete autonomy. There is no doubt that the Israeli government has control over the West Bank as it monopolizes on its natural resources as well interferes with Palestinian governance.
Lastly, in response to the ahistorical allegations that claim Hamas started the six-day War in 1967. Not only is this laughable, but Hamas was also started in 1987, 20 years after the war and 4 decades after the establishment of the settler-colony known as Israel today. Furthermore it was not a governing body until 2007. This is not to defend the organization, but to clear up ahistorical myths that are used to perpetuate fear mongering. We hope this cleared up and debunked these myths and cleared any confusion pertaining to the word 'Apartheid', why we use it, and its legitimacy and relevance to Palestine.