Apartheid Israel Goes Mainstream


A Conversation with David Harel

That Israel is an apartheid state — certainly beyond the Green Line — and commits outrageously illegal acts against the Palestinian people, seem to have become mainstream ideas.

Views of this tenor pop up frequently these days. In a recent piece in The Forward (an emerging prominent voice for justice in Palestine), liberal Zionist Peter Beinart commented on how “mainstream” Bernie Sanders’ “radical” criticism of Israel has become down in Israel-USA

American Presbyterians have just voted narrowly to divest from three corporations that collaborate with Israel’s permanent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights: Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar and Motorola Solutions. 

This was not an endorsement of the Palestinian-inspired, international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the 1.5 million-member Protestant group noted. Just a call for justice.

Days before, Argentina’s national football team had cancelled a friendly match with Israel, when the match got moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (that no one but the Israelis and Donald Trump think Israel should have exclusive sovereignty over). Palestinians and global BDS activists, who’ve been calling on FIFA to issue Israel a red card, applauded the move. 

Just the other day, some seventy luminaries from the global arts and intellectual community — Patti Smith, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky among them — called for the right to speak freely about Israel. What with shadowy, no-doubt Israeli-controlled social media groups like Canary Mission on the loose, systematically smearing pro-Palestinian voices across North America, truthful speech about Israel’s crimes can cost you your job, or worse.

Now, another candid call for straight talk about what Israel has become: an op-ed piece by Israeli scientist David Harel and writer/translator Ilana Hammerman in the 29 June edition of the Guardian calling on the international community to hold Israel accountable for its occupation of Palestine.

“It is time for the international community to act decisively,” Hammerman and Harel write. “Substantive external pressure — political, economic and cultural — offers the only chance of emerging from this impossible situation before it is too late. Not a sweeping BDS-style boycott of the country, but diverse, carefully crafted acts of pressure.”

David Harel

While Harel and Hammerman distance themselves from BDS in their Guardian op-ed, David Harel tells me in our audio exchange that the US, Canada and EU should ban the importation of products from Jewish settlements.

West Bank settlements are “flagrantly illegal” under international law.

David Harel doesn’t mince words. He says that Israel “definitely” practices apartheid in the Palestinian territories it occupies.

David Harel is a computer scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, where he holds the William Sussman Professorial Chair. He is also the current vice-president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Listen to my conversation with David Harel: