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Palestine Report

Sameera Casmod |
14 August 2023 | 08:20am SAST
3 min read

In a significant move, more than 1,500 academics have come forward with an open letter denouncing Israeli apartheid. The call to action is notable not only for the number of signatories but also for its origin within the Israeli state itself. The open letter equates the Israeli occupation of the West Bank with apartheid policies, sparking intense discussions and debates worldwide.

The open letter has garnered signatures from a diverse group of academics, including both Israeli scholars and those from Western academia. Notably, the signatories include individuals from institutions like Yale, Columbia, and Harvard in the United States, alongside Israeli academics from various backgrounds. This collaboration underscores the global resonance of the issue and signifies a collective academic concern for the ongoing situation.

The rapid influx of signatures within the first two weeks of the letter’s circulation has prompted discussions about its timing. The rate of signatures surged dramatically, with endorsements pouring in from all corners. This momentum suggests a significant shift in academic sentiment and reflects a pivotal moment in the discourse surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The open letter highlights the change of heart among Israeli academics who were previously hesitant to equate occupation with apartheid. This shift is particularly evident in the case of Benny Morris, a historian who has previously exposed the Nakba and Israeli actions during that period. Despite his historical revelations, Morris maintained a steadfastly Zionist stance, but his support for the open letter indicates a noteworthy change in perspective.

Observers have identified several factors contributing to this notable shift in academic sentiment. The authors of the open letter suggest a connection between the policies of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the occupation of Palestinian territories. They contend that the expansion of settlements, coupled with a renewed focus on Palestinian citizens within Israel, has prompted a reassessment of the situation.

The open letter also raises questions about the generational shift within the Jewish community. The call for a more accurate appraisal of Israel’s past and present in Jewish educational curricula signals an acknowledgment of the need for a more comprehensive understanding of the historical context.

In a parallel development, former Israeli General Amiram Levin made a controversial statement likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank to Nazi Germany. Levin, who served as the head of the Israeli Army’s Northern Command, noted similarities in the enforcement of apartheid-like policies, particularly in cities such as al-Khalil (Hebron), where Arab residents are restricted from certain areas.

The open letter signed by a diverse group of academics, including Israeli scholars and those from Western institutions, signifies a significant moment in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The change of heart among previously staunch supporters of Israeli policies, the evolving perspectives on the occupation, and the comparison to apartheid policies and Nazi Germany all contribute to a growing global dialogue on this complex issue. The future implications of this collective academic voice remain to be seen, as discussions and debates continue to unfold on the world stage.

The case of the Soub Laban family highlights the hardships faced by Palestinian families under Israeli occupation. Evicted from their home in the old city of Jerusalem on July 11th, the Soub Laban family had resided in the house for 70 years. Their presence in the area predates the Israeli occupation of 1967. Following the occupation, they were granted protective lease rights, which were upheld through a lengthy legal battle that spanned decades.

However, the situation took a distressing turn when the family was informed that they were required to pay $9,000 to cover the expenses of their own eviction. This sum, equivalent to approximately ZAR 170,000, comprises charges for the Israeli police’s involvement (counted at 160 hours of work), expenses related to a private contracting company for the house evacuation, and legal fees.

The Israeli authorities have not only imposed this hefty fine but have also placed travel bans on the family until the compensation is settled. This prohibition extends to property confiscation, including vehicles and real estate. The Soub Laban family’s plight encapsulates the complexities and challenges faced by Palestinians living under occupation.

Listen to the full Palestine Report on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaiman Ravat here.


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