Saturday, March 29, 2008

Separate But (Un)Equal in Israel

When former President Jimmy Carter released his book Palestine Peace, Not Apartheid, there was public outcry about his decision to use the word “apartheid” in relationship to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. I wonder if now some of his detractors will change their views on the subject. That’s because the Supreme Court of Israel has backed a two-tier road system for Israelis and Palestinians, leading the Association for Civil Rights there to say that the policy constitutes apartheid.

The New York Times quoted Limor Yehuda, who argued the recent case for the civil rights association on behalf of six Palestinian villages, the paper reported.

“There is already a separate legal system in the territories for Israelis and Palestinians,” Yehuda was quoted in the Times as saying. “With the approval of separate roads, if it becomes a widespread policy, then the word for it will be ‘apartheid.’ ”

The road that has prompted the two-tier highway idea is Highway 443, a thoroughfare to Jerusalem. Mostly built on private, Palestinian land, the highway is now almost exclusively used for Israelis due to security reasons. In recent years, Israelis traveling on the road have been the victims of drive-by shootings and stone-throwing attacks by Palestinians, according to the Israeli government.

But Israel and its supporters bristle at the notion that a two-tier road system would constitute apartheid. Meanwhile, Palestinians complain that lack of access to the road adversely affects their quality of life, making them feel caged. Read the story in full here.

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