November 4, 2011 · 0 Comments
From John Dugard:
To the Editor:
Re “Israel and the Apartheid Slander,” by Richard J. Goldstone (Op-Ed, Nov. 1):
Mr. Goldstone and I knew apartheid in South Africa. We knew apartheid as a discriminatory, repressive system accompanied by the seizure of land belonging to blacks for the use of whites.
We know something about Gaza, as we investigated Israel’s actions there in 2009 and concluded that Israel had committed war crimes. I know the West Bank better than Mr. Goldstone, as from 2001 to 2008, I was special rapporteur to the Human Rights Council, a United Nations body, on human rights in the Palestinian territories and visited there regularly.
There are distinctive similarities between apartheid in South Africa and Israel’s practices in the West Bank. Israel discriminates against Palestinians in favor of settlers. Its restrictions on freedom of movement resemble the pass laws of apartheid South Africa.
Israeli practices in the Palestinian territories are repressive. Torture of Palestinians is rife; houses are destroyed, and there are more political prisoners in Israeli jails than there were in South Africa under apartheid. Israel seizes Palestinian land for settlements and for the construction of the wall.
There are sufficient similarities between the two systems to justify an investigation into whether or not Israel commits the crime of apartheid in the Palestinian territories.
Israel refuses to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. In these circumstances, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine should examine the question of whether or not Israel should be held accountable for the crime of apartheid.
Cape Town, Nov. 2, 2011
The writer is a jury member in the London session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and a witness for the South African session.