We were saddened, but not surprised, when we opened Wednesday Journal (July 20) to see the full-page ad decrying the description of Israel as an apartheid state and vilifying those of us who agree with this, calling us anti-semites. N.Y. Times columnist Anthony Lewis had characterized another ad by this same California-based organization that placed the WJ ad as “a sorry evasion of reality. … Some [Israel] supporters find denial easier than looking at the facts.”

The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine (CJPIP) has been working for over 20 years to bring accurate information to Oak Park and the Chicago Metro community about the reality of life in Israel/Palestine. Since 2020, five extensive reports detailing the crimes of apartheid carried out by Israel against Palestinians have been issued by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem (Israel’s premier human rights organization), the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, in partnership with Ramallah-based Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. 

While the term “apartheid” was originally used “to refer to a political system in South Africa which explicitly enforced racial segregation, the crime against humanity of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention, the Rome Statute, and customary international law is committed when any inhuman or inhumane act [essentially a serious human rights violation] is perpetrated in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, with the intention to maintain that system.” According to Amnesty International, Israel’s systemic apartheid consists of: fragmentation into domains of control, dispossession of land and property, segregation and control, and deprivation of social and economic rights. 

Israel has and continues to engage in all of these practices against Palestinians. 

Additionally, as the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem details in its report, the distinction between the treatment of Palestinians in Israel’s sovereign territory and those Palestinian Territories that it occupies has become less relevant.  “[T]he 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.”

Apartheid anywhere — whether in South Africa by the Myanmar government against the Rohingya or in Israel against the Palestinians — is illegal and immoral. Because the U.S. government is using $3.8 billion of our taxes every year to provide military aid that supports the Israeli government’s apartheid against the Palestinian people, those of us who support equality and justice must oppose this systemic oppression.

At Day in Our Village, CJPIP launched our “Israel/Palestine – It’s All About Human Rights” campaign, which we have been publicizing in ads in WJ. More info on this campaign can be found at www.cjpip.org/progressive-for-palestine. Through our information and related resources, we describe the impact of the Israeli occupation and systematic apartheid to everyone committed to peace, anti-racism, women’s rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and the environment.

We look forward to working with other individuals and community organizations who share a vision of equality and full human rights for all!

Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine
Oak Park and River Forest

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