The organization B’Tselem is a self-described “Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories,” and it is calling Israel an “apartheid state,” as well as a “regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.” These are troubling words especially considering the fact that jihadists who seek to obliterate Israel often chant: “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” The Palestinian “resistance” seeks a one-state solution, i.e., the total destruction of Israel.
Professor Eugene Kontorovich, head of the Kohelet Policy Forum’s International Law Department, told the Jerusalem Post that “B’Tselem’s charge of apartheid was akin to an antisemitic blood libel,” and that “apartheid is an extraordinary accusation because there is an international crime called the crime of apartheid and an international treaty against the crime of apartheid.” Kontorovich also added that “no country has ever been deemed by the international community as an apartheid state since South Africa, not even China and Iran.”
In 2016, B’Tselem and another organization, Ta’ayush, came under fire after their members were accused of helping the Palestinian Authority catch and murder Palestinian land dealers who were planning to sell property to Jews.
In 2017, Haaretz published an interview with the executive director of B’Tselem, Hagai El-Ad, titled Israeli Anti-occupation Group Refuses to Be the Army’s ‘Useful Idiot.’ Instead, B’Tselem would rather be the useful idiots of jihadists. El-Ad has addressed the anti-Israel United Nations.
In 2018, while tens of thousands of Palestinians were burning tires and throwing firebombs and rocks at Israeli soldiers on the border in Gaza, B’Tselem’s leaders “called on Israeli soldiers to refuse orders” to retaliate and open fire. B’Tselem’s interference prompted then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to request an investigation of the group.
B’Tselem is not a human rights group. It is an agitator and political activist enemy from within.
“A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid,” B’Tselem, January 12, 2021:
More than 14 million people, roughly half of them Jews and the other half Palestinians, live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea under a single rule. The common perception in public, political, legal and media discourse is that two separate regimes operate side by side in this area, separated by the Green Line. One regime, inside the borders of the sovereign State of Israel, is a permanent democracy with a population of about nine million, all Israeli citizens. The other regime, in the territories Israel took over in 1967, whose final status is supposed to be determined in future negotiations, is a temporary military occupation imposed on some five million Palestinian subjects.
Over time, the distinction between the two regimes has grown divorced from reality. This state of affairs has existed for more than 50 years – twice as long as the State of Israel existed without it. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers now reside in permanent settlements east of the Green Line, living as though they were west of it. East Jerusalem has been officially annexed to Israel’s sovereign territory, and the West Bank has been annexed in practice. Most importantly, the distinction obfuscates the fact that the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is organized under a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians. All this leads to the conclusion that these are not two parallel regimes that simply happen to uphold the same principle. There is one regime governing the entire area and the people living in it, based on a single organizing principle.
When B’Tselem was founded in 1989, we limited our mandate to the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, and refrained from addressing human rights inside the State of Israel established in 1948 or from taking a comprehensive approach to the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Yet the situation has changed. The regime’s organizing principle has gained visibility in recent years, as evidenced by the Basic Law: Israel – the Nation State of the Jewish People passed in 2018, or open talk of formally annexing parts of the West Bank in 2020. Taken together with the facts described above, this means that what happens in the Occupied Territories can no longer be treated as separate from the reality in the entire area under Israel’s control. The terms we have used in recent years to describe the situation – such as “prolonged occupation” or a “one-state reality” – are no longer adequate. To continue effectively fighting human rights violations, it is essential to examine and define the regime that governs the entire area.
This paper analyzes how the Israeli regime works to advance its goals in the entire area under its control. We do not provide a historical review or an evaluation of the Palestinian and Jewish national movements, or of the former South Africa regime. While these are important questions, they are beyond the purview of a human rights organization. Rather, this document presents the principles that guide the regime, demonstrates how it implements them and points to the conclusion that emerges from all of this as to how the regime should be defined and what that means for human rights.
Divide, separate, rule
MapIn the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians. A key method in pursuing this goal is engineering space differently for each group….