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700+ Scholars Link Israeli Occupation to Apartheid

More than 700 academics and public figures from Israel, Palestine, and other nations have endorsed an open letter equating Israel’s West Bank occupation with apartheid. This action is seen as a transformative “watershed moment” in the perception of Israel’s occupation.

The letter, initiated on Friday, has been garnering about 200 signatures daily, with continuous additions. Omer Bartov, the organizer and a Holocaust studies professor at Brown University, stated that the letter currently boasts 752 signatories.

The authors connect Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to reshape the nation’s judiciary with the unlawful occupation of Palestinian territories. They argue that this judicial overhaul aims to tighten control over Gaza, limit Palestinian rights, expand annexation, and perpetuate ethnic cleansing under Israeli jurisdiction.

The letter explicitly references the long-standing occupation as the “elephant in the room,” acknowledging the creation of an apartheid regime.

The authors contend that democracy cannot coexist with such an oppressive system, emphasizing that Jewish Israelis cannot fully experience democracy while Palestinians are subjected to apartheid.

Bartov noted that Israeli scholars, including significant figures like Benny Morris, who once hesitated to equate occupation with apartheid, are now joining the cause due to the escalated brutality in recent years.

Prominent academics, including Peter Beinart from City University of New York and Avrum Burg, the former Knesset speaker, have signed the letter. Supporters span diverse fields, from evolutionary biology at Hebrew University to choreography and rabbinical studies at Hebrew College.

The initiative has gained traction in institutions such as Yale, Brown, Columbia, and Harvard in the United States.

The widespread engagement of academics signifies a pivotal moment in American Jewish perspectives on Israel, reflecting a generational shift in willingness to critique Israeli policies.

The letter’s significance extends to a connection between Israel’s far-right government’s actions to reshape the judiciary and the ongoing occupation. This convergence is leading more individuals, including regular citizens, intellectuals, and leaders, to recognize the indissoluble link between the occupation and current political dynamics.

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