John Kerry may well have apologised for his Israeli 'apartheid' remarks after the rather predictable Israeli response which comes whenever anybody says anything unfavourable about them but it is not the first time someone has made the link between Israel in 2014 to the South Africa of the last century.
In 1973 the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and defined the crime of apartheid as 'inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one group over another group and systematically oppressing them'.
So is Israeli an apartheid country oppressing and maintaining domination over the Palestinians?
In January 2004 Colin Powell beat John Kerry to labelling Israel as an apartheid state by saying about the West Bank barrier: 'I don't believe that we can accept a situation that results in anything that one might characterise as apartheid' and the then-President of the United Nations General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, likened Israel's policies toward the Palestinians to South Africa's treatment of blacks under apartheid.
According to a 2004 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practises for Israel and the Occupied Territories, it reported that 'the Israeli government had done little to reduce institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country's Arab citizens' so John Kerry isn't the first American in a position to accuse Israel of being anything other than hostile to its non-Jewish citizens.
In a 2007 report, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestine John Dugard stated 'elements of the Israeli occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid' and the same year the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reported that Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the occupied territories are subject to different criminal laws, leading to longer detention and harsher punishments for Palestinians than for Israelis for the same offences.
Amnesty International also reported that in the West Bank, Israeli settlers and soldiers who engage in abuses against Palestinians, including unlawful killings, enjoy impunity from punishment and are rarely prosecuted. However Palestinians detained by Israeli security forces may be imprisoned for prolonged periods of time and face torture and other ill-treatment.
Henry Siegman, a former national director of the American Jewish Congress, has stated that the network of settlements in the West Bank has created an 'irreversible colonial project aimed to foreclose the possibility of a viable Palestinian state' and in accomplishing this Israel has 'crossed the threshold from the only
democracy in the Middle East to the only apartheid regime in the Western world'.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel concluded in 2008 that a segregated road network in the West Bank, expansion of Jewish settlements, restriction of the growth of Palestinian towns and discriminatory granting of services, budgets and access to natural resources 'are in many ways reminiscent of the Apartheid regime in South Africa'.
In 2009 the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) published a report stating, 'the State of Israel exercises control in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with the purpose of maintaining a system of domination by Jews over Palestinians and that this system constitutes a breach of the prohibition of apartheid'.
In 2010 United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard A. Falk reported that criminal apartheid features of the Israeli occupation had been entrenched in the three years since the report of his predecessor and in March 2011, Falk said 'The continued pattern of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem combined with the forcible eviction of long-residing Palestinians is creating an intolerable situation and can only be described in its cumulative impact as a form of ethnic cleansing. Israeli policy in the West Bank clearly constitutes a form of apartheid with an effect on the Palestinian people much the same as apartheid had on the non-White population in South Africa'.
In January 2012, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French parliament published a report describing Israel's water policies in the West Bank as 'a weapon serving the new apartheid' on their findings that Palestinians are not allowed to use the underground aquifers, and that Israel was deliberately destroying wells, reservoirs and water purification plants.
Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States, Camp David Accords negotiator and Nobel Peace Prize winner, wrote a book titled 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid' and stated that Israel's options included a 'system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights. This is the policy now being followed, although many citizens of Israel deride the racist connotations of prescribing permanent second-class status for the Palestinians'.
When the UN, Human and Civil Right Groups, previous American Presidents and the current US secretary of state label you as an apartheid state, it doesn't matter how much you scream that you aren't because the weight of evidence shows that you most certainly are.