AOC and Cori Bush Have Helped Remove Taboo on Calling Israel an Apartheid State

When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez labeled Israel an apartheid country over the weekend, writing, “Apartheid states are not democracies,” she made international headlines. And Missouri Rep. Cori Bush promptly echoed her colleague from New York. Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib made the apartheid charge last week.

It’s obvious that the Human Rights Watch report of April 27 accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid has given others permission to open their mouths. AOC defended herself from an onslaught of critics by retweeting HRW’s statement that it didn’t arrive at the apartheid charge “lightly” and by citing the B’Tselem apartheid finding of January, along with the HRW finding.

Of course, Israel critics have leveled the apartheid charge for more than 15 years. Rep. Betty McCollum of MN first leveled the “apartheid” charge in 2018.

But the Human Rights Watch report has gotten legs from Israel’s latest Gaza onslaught; and what we are now seeing is a sudden end to a taboo (as my friend Dan Walsh says).

This weekend both John Oliver on HBO and Ali Velshi on MSNBC deployed the apartheid charge to explain what viewers are seeing.

On Sunday, John Oliver accused Israel of war crimes and apartheid against Palestinians, and cited HRW and B’Tselem. Daily Beast has the quote:

They’ve been living under a suffocating blockade for 14 years, and in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, Palestinians are essentially being governed by a form of apartheid—an assessment echoed by both international and Israeli human rights groups,

Here is a longer clip of Oliver from the show.

“Both sides are suffering heartbreaking casualties. But one side is suffering them exponentially… We have got to start having this conversation honestly. And falling back on convenient, sanitized terms like real estate dispute and air strikes on militants feels a little disingenous, when what you are describing is forcing people form the homes they have lived in for decades and killing civilians and children…

“Some things are pretty simple. One side is suffering much more…If America really wants to help… I would hope that a real friend would tell me when I’m being an asshole and definitely when I’m committing a fucking war crime.

Ali Velshi spoke out on May 15, on MSNBC, this clip thanks to CAIR:

Palestinians are at best third-class citizens in the nation of their birth. The idea that it is even remotely controversial to call what Israel has imposed on Palestinians a form of apartheid is laughable. One look at a map of Israel, Gaza and the occupied territories conjures up only one other example, apartheid era South Africa…

It may be worth gong deeper than what you may hear in your bubble in understanding the depth to which the Palestinian people are subject to apartheid in their own land, deprived of basic necessities and subject to relentless civil rights violations. This is not a secret. It’s out there to see. You just have to look for it.

Velshi was soon echoed by Joy-Ann Reid:

What @AliVelshi says in this succinct explanation is just facts: painful, well known and documented facts. Israel has a right to exist in peace but so do Palestinians, who currently suffer under what can only be called apartheid. And no one is doing anything about it.

The young Jewish group IfNotNow has made apartheid a regular allegation in their messaging.

To bomb schools today — or any day — goes against everything it means to be Jewish. #JewsAgainstApartheid

This morning David Rothkopf, scribe of the liberal establishment, tweeted: “Israel is an apartheid state. Apartheid states are not democracies.”

And yesterday, Iran labeled Israel an “apartheid” state and called for international action to stop its systematic violations of human rights.