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I recently watched a video (https://bit.ly/2mzut9M) of a Birthright trip gone wrong. A young man confronted the Birthright guide asking why the West Bank is not shown on the map distributed to the group, that instead names the territory “Judea and Samaria”. The guide states that it is Israel’s position that the entire land belongs to Israel…it is part of the country called Israel. This is refreshing to hear stated so blatantly, when for decades, the world has been fed lies about negotiations towards a two state solution. I guess the Israeli settlements spreading like wildfire on top of the Palestinian territories were not a clear enough message that there was never an intention to see a free and contiguous Palestine.

Whether intentionally or out of ignorance, the Birthright tour guide made an important statement about Israeli ambitions of sovereignty over the land—the fact that Israel, the Jewish state, sees itself as the owner of all the land between the river and the sea. This has two key implications:
1. Israel wants/imagines sovereignty over the land
2. Israel sees indigenous Palestinians, as interlopers, preventing a contiguous Jewish state.

Let’s get real. What sovereignty do the Palestinians have? Israel in all practical senses has defacto sovereignty over all the land. The “security coordination” with the Palestinian Authority is just another brick in the Apartheid wall. The current expired PA government is in collusion with the colonizer, reaping the benefits from the stalemate in “negotiations”. Israel controls all ports of entry and borders across the land. It claims no control in Gaza strip, while it holds close to 2 million people hostage in what many have called a concentration camp—even controlling the number of calories the average Gazan should consume (https://nyti.ms/2LD5qO3). The Jewish state controls ALL aspects of Palestinian life across the territories, make no mistake.

So what does it mean? It means that no matter how you look at it, Israel is an Apartheid state. Not just inside what is known loosely as “Israel proper” and pertaining to Israeli citizens of Palestinian descent, but across the entire land. Israel’s main mission vis-a-vis the land is two-fold: continue to appropriate more Palestinian land, which it anyway considers a repatriation of Jewish land to restore Eretz Israel and to eliminate as many Palestinians as possible while making the life of millions of other Palestinians completely unbearable by reducing their quality of life and their ability to make a living. The latest Jewish nation state bill, the closest to a living constitution, has just legalized racial segregation and institutionalized discrimination. Ethnic cleansing is not just the killing of Palestinian bodies, but the systematic erasure of Palestinian attachment and claim to the land, history and language. The nation state bill creates a framework for legal ethnic cleansing.

Millennia of human history have witnessed territories being conquered through war. More often than not, it resulted in migration and a merging of civilizations that resulted in a new nation, where it was more common for the the culture of the conquered and their structures of governance to remain mostly intact and dominant. That’s what should have happened in Palestine in 1948. Instead, it was determined by the Zionist establishment that in order for a Jewish state to emerge, all traces of the indigenous Palestinians must be erased. Much to Israel’s dismay, the Palestinians are still on the land. What is notable is that while Israel continues to feed the world the lie that all that stands in the way of peace is failed negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and the terror kites of Hamas, Israel rules over them all with an Apartheid system not seen since South Africa. And we know how that ended.

Iman Najjar-Annab was until recently a professional research consultant serving large multinationals based in the Middle East. Her interest in social issues motivated her to continue her education in the area of social justice, policy and education. Iman holds a BA (honours) in Graphic Design from the London College of Communication, a certificate in Community Engagement, Leadership and Development from Ryerson University and an M.Ed. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto.

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