Separate and Unequal: Discriminatory Policies in Israel and Palestine

This week marks the ninth annual international Israeli Apartheid Week, which serves to highlight the Israeli state’s systematic discrimination and human rights violations against Palestinians and to build the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to hold Israel accountable to its international humanitarian law obligations.

For some, the word apartheid is controversial. Without commenting on the term myself, I offer three snippets of life in Palestine from the five weeks I spent living there last summer to allow students to decide for themselves. Part one will focus on some invisible aspects of the Israeli occupation of PalestineIsraeli control of Palestinian infrastructure and development. Part two will focus on how Palestinian activists are treated by Israel, with a focus on Stanford alumnus Fadi Quran 10. Part three will highlight the experience of everyday Palestinians, who seek life’s basic liberties while living under occupation. I will conclude the series next week with my own analysis of the term ‘apartheid.’

At the beginning of my time in Israel and Palestine, I went on a tour of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank with Jeff Halper, co-founder of the Israeli Committee against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD). To those who are unfamiliar with Israeli settlements, they are outposts where Israelis set up villages on land that is internationally recognized as belonging to the Palestinian people. They are illegal under international law, which prohibits an occupying military power from transferring its citizens to the territory they administer. In some cases, Israelis kick Palestinians out of their homes; in others, they build on land that the Palestinians cannot receive permits to build upon.

The settlements usually come with many resources — paved roads, sidewalks, grass, malls, olive trees that are hundreds of years old and uprooted from Palestinian villages, and more. We saw an Olympic-sized swimming pool in one of the more developed settlements. We also saw a huge decorative fountain at the base of a valley, complete with grass and a couple of palm trees. This site may not seem abnormal, but when you consider that the rest of the area looked like a desert, and that Palestinians in the West Bank only receive 15% of the water that comes from their land, this story changes very quickly.

Decorative pool with lush greenery for illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

Decorative pool with lush greenery for illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank. (Photo by Kristian Davis Bailey)

 

 

Water control is one of the invisible but vital issues of the occupation. On opposite sides of the highway on the drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, you can see evidence of separate and unequal treatment of Israelis and Palestinians. You can determine the distinction between Palestinian villages and Israeli settlements in the West Bank by looking at their roofs. Palestinians have multiple black water towers peppered all over every roof. The Israeli settlements either have no water towers at all (they have 24/7 access to water) or small white storage tanks that are noticeably smaller than the Palestinian ones.

In this area and in places across the West Bank, Israel supplies Palestinians with water as little as once a week. Palestinians gather water in these tanks to use during the outages, but have to allot the resources accordingly. Israeli settlers and soldiers sometimes target these water tanks for attacks.

Water tanks in a Palestinian village.

Water tanks in a Palestinian village. (Photo c/o Nadya T.)


In East Jerusalem, Palestinian areas do not get serviced
by public buses, garbage collectors or ambulances (to call an ambulance requires a police escort). Israel captured East Jerusalem at the end of the Six Day War in 1967 and claims East and West Jerusalem as the unified and eternal capital of Israel, though it is technically occupied territory, just like the West Bank. While Israel should not be in East Jerusalem under international law, since it treats the city as its territory, it is practicing de facto segregation by not providing services to people who pay taxes and live in its capital, based on their ethnicity. The roads we saw in East Jerusalem are significantly narrower, frequently have no sidewalks and are strewn with trash when they do exist.

Streets in a Palestinian village in East Jerusalem and streets in an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem.

Streets in a Palestinian village in East Jerusalem and streets in an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem. (Photo by Kristian Davis Bailey)

 

Palestinian roads in East Jerusalem compared with Israeli roads in West Jerusalem.

Palestinian roads in East Jerusalem compared with Israeli roads in West Jerusalem. (Photo by Kristian Davis Bailey)

 

This distinction is currently being established even further, as Israel is currently building a separate highway for Palestinians in the West Bank on a road that is currently shared between illegal Israeli settlers and Palestinians. Once the road is completed, a wall will divide the highway between Palestinians and Israeli settlers, only the latter of whom will have direct access to Jerusalem. Palestinians living in the West Bank are not allowed to enter Jerusalem under most circumstances.

 

Current highway in the West Bank — connects illegal Israeli settlements to Jerusalem

Current highway in the West Bank — connects illegal Israeli settlements to Jerusalem. (Photo by Kristian Davis Bailey)

 

The issue of settlers may seem distant, but there is a lot of American involvement in this process. Jeff Halper from ICAHD spoke to us about one American who donated a police station for illegal Israeli settlers in order to convert the old police station into condominiums for additional settlers. To be clear: a private US citizen gifted a police station to a national government to grow the illegal occupation of land halfway across the world.

Police station for Israeli settlers donated by a private American citizen

Police station for Israeli settlers donated by a private American citizen. (Photo by Kristian Davis Bailey)

 

Similarly, at one settlement stop, the billboard for the project featured an American number and a U.S. contact person to inquire about more details.

Advertisement for Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem next to parked construction gear. On the bottom left is a US number (1-700-700-XXXX)

Advertisement for Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem next to parked construction gear. On the bottom left is a US number (1-700-700-XXXX) (Photo by Kristian Davis Bailey)

 

US sales director advertisement for Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.

US sales director advertisement for Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem. (Photo by Kristian Davis Bailey)

 

A view of one illegal Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem. This is the settlement in the advertisement above.

A view of one illegal Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem. This is the settlement in the advertisement above. (Photo by Kristian Davis Bailey)

 

In the entire time I was in the region, I could not wrap my mind around the existence of the settlements, the discrepancy in resources between villages immediately next to each other and the fact that the settlements are blatantly illegal yet approved by the Israeli government anyway. What is clear when all of these photos come together is that the society we are looking into is one that is separate and unequal. We cannot allow such discrimination to remain.

(Photo by Kristian Davis Bailey)

Kristian is co-president of the newly-renamed Students for Justice in Palestine. He invites anyone interested in continuing this conversation to hear Palestinian activist and Stanford alumni Fadi Quran 10 discuss the movement for justice in the region this Thursday at 7:15 p.m. in the Ujamaa House Drake Lounge.

 

Contact Kristian Bailey at kbailey@stanford.edu.

About Kristian Davis Bailey

Kristian Davis Bailey is a junior studying Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. A full time journalist/writer and occasional student, he's served as an Opinion section editor, News writer and desk editor for The Daily, is a community liaison for Stanford STATIC, the campus' progressive blog and journal, and maintains his own website, 'With a K.' He's interested in how the press perpetuates systems of oppression and seeks to use journalism as a tool for dismantling such systems.
  • Old News

    I guess it’s that time of the year again: time for Mr. Bailey to undertake his one-sided, bigoted anti-Zionist tirade against Israel.

    Great that Bailey visited Israel and Palestine since his last series of articles on this region of the world, but I am boggled that he still fails to frame the conflict with any sense of nuance or interest in the bigger picture. In this article, Bailey merely provides casual observations of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. He never frames his survey in the larger context of understanding the conflict as a two-sided clash with hundreds of years of historical, religious, and political discord.

    How embarrassing and misleading to publish such a one-sided series of observations, without any analysis of the historical, political, and religious intricacies of a dispute as complex as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • Disheartened

    The saddest thing is you’re an anti-semite and you don’t even know it- you were just brainwashed by the BDS movement. The Palestinians live in poor conditions because they cannot act civilized- that is not Israel’s fault. The reason they need to have a soldier escort them with the ambulance is because many have killed the medics just to take another Israeli life. They live in the result of their own behavior. If tomorrow they decided to be civilized and sophisticated and create a democratic society not founded upon the rule of a terrorist group, their territory would look very different.

  • matinl90

    Gosh! I wish you would come up with another excuse apart from the Anti-semite thing. At least be a little creative and don’t use the same stereotypes we hear from every Israeli who doesn’t like to see that facts in any different point of view but his!

  • We have heard that

    Your article should start at the last line: “We cannot allow such discrimination to remain”. What do you suggest we do? We all know what you’re talking about. The reason it hasn’t been solved is because it is difficult to do so. You are not addressing that difficulty.

  • Stanford student

    thanks for all this info, Kristian! I’ve always searched for accessible explanation of the conflict and its aftermath and this does a great job of providing that.

  • gabriel314

    Get over the historical/political/religious nonsense and be a good person to your fellow man. No rational person buys into the “God gave us this land because we’re the chosen people” nonsense.

    The Jews were given land that belonged to others, and that wasn’t good enough. They wanted more, more, more by any means necessary and shriek about anti-semitism when anyone complains. Did they expect the Palestinians to thank them and bow down before their superiors?

  • sam1am

    I
    read a lot of garbage from the anti-Israel crowd, but this hogwash tops them
    all and completely turns reality upside down……

    This
    inane article wants to portray Israel as an Apartheid state, yet
    it selectively ignore the simple FACT: The areas of Gaza and the West Bank
    are NOT, say it again Sam, are NOT part of Israel, they are under the
    civil administration of the Palestinian Authority which receives over $3.5
    billion annually, but chose to spend it on global terrorism and BDS campaign
    against Israel, rather then invest it in improving the WB infrastructure.

    This
    simple fact needs to resonate clearly in the mind of Stanford students, who consider
    themselves as educated and informed.

    Israel
    has NO Obligation to invest in the WB area under the PA control, and the photos
    clearly represent the Palestinians failure to take care of their inhabitants.
    Further, Israel built over 6 deslaination plants along the Med sea and recycle
    80% of the waste water for agricultural purposes, while Hamas and the PA spend
    their ‘donation’ on rewarding thousands of terrorists families with lavish
    stipends and awards.

    Maybe
    the moral hypocrite author of this article open his eyes and present “the truth
    and whole truth”, rather than recite blindly the Pallywood narrative of
    victimhood and misery.

    What
    you see in the above photos is a STARK
    TESTIMONY of the way each government treats its inhabitants.

  • Ashley Dickenson

    ‘I will make you a great nation .. you shall be a blessing (Israel is proving to be a blessing to other nations) .. I will bless those who bless you and I will bless those who curse you’ (Genesis Ch 12) and ‘To your descendants I will give this land’.
    Who are ‘others’ to whom this land allegedly belongs?

  • the olive tree

    Thank you Christian…I just returned from the Occupied Palestinian Territories planting olive trees with Palestinian farmers…I absolutely resonated with your images, observations and commentary…and also have a photograph of the water park of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement taken for the same reasons. Besides the contrast between the Palestinian Villages and the Settlements in or near Jerusalem we also visited a Bedouin village nearby…that contrast is even more stark and disturbing…Thanks for sharing. Everyone will have to conclude their own view, but you were there and you can tell your story…first hand, with pictures. Some people believe this is such a complicated situation which must be framed in hundreds of years of historical context…as though that changes what is happening now. It is not complicated to me…it is simple…there are human rights violations against the Palestinians…and a systematic forced removal of the members of that ethnic group from their communities in order to change the composition of the West Bank Region…it’s about taking land for Israel. These are crimes against humanity and are illegal based on International Law. There has been a systematic destruction of homes, personal property (farmland in particular), violence, and killings. This is one of the legal definitions for ethnic cleansing. That intention is absolutely at the core of everything. The fact that Israel is occupying illegally is paramount. Keep this conversation alive…it is necessary.