According to Saree Makdisi (2010), “Israeli apartheid is about the irrelevance, removal, and erasure of the Palestinians”; this is apparent from the apartheid of the occupations.
It has been argued that the Israeli Apartheid to some extent parallels the apartheid era of South Africa. For John Maxell Coetzee (2016), there is a comparison between the South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid where he states “in Jerusalem and the West Bank we see a system of enforced segregation based on race or ethnicity, put in place by an exclusive, self-defined group in order to consolidate colonial conquest particular to cement its hold on the land and natural resources.” This is achieved by the apartheid policies implemented by the Israeli government where the Israeli apartheid is used as a system to discriminate Palestinian Arabs in which they are deprived of basic rights. For instance, through the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories such as the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the basic necessities of Palestinian’s such as water, electricity, healthcare and education are controlled by the Israeli government/military. Additionally, since Palestinians are not full nationals they are treated as second class citizens where they don’t possess basic rights such as the right to vote, and don’t have the right of free movement which in turn denies them from accessing their basic necessities. The Israeli Apartheid is a system of control in which the components of the apartheid are explicitly visible in the matrix of control; a term coined by Jeff Halper.
According to Eyal Weizman, the purpose of the matrix of control is to “superimpose two separate political geographies- one Jewish, one Palestinian” where Israel has employed governmental methods of spatial control to regulate the lives and movements of Palestinians by occupying their spaces and by restricting their movements. The matrix of control is the overarching spatial logic that uses mechanisms of denial, repression, power and control by using space and architecture to discriminate, restrict and deprive Palestinians. This spatial expression of the matrix of control is visible in the separation wall, roads, checkpoints and settlements. Thereby, for Halper (2009) the matrix of control “is intended to perpetuate Israeli control”. The West Bank Separation Wall also known as the ‘Apartheid Wall’ was established in the year 2002 around East Jerusalem and is conceptualised as a “barrier constructed through the entire West Bank to separate Jewish settlements and Israeli cities from Palestinian towns and villages” (Weizman, 2007). The common features of the separation wall are electronic fences, barbed wire, cameras and watchtowers which are put in place by the Israeli government to embody power and control. According to Dona J Stewart in ‘The Middle East Today: Political, Geographical and Cultural Perspectives’ (2008), Palestinians refer to the West Bank wall as a racial segregation wall or apartheid wall. Therefore, the wall expresses “a kind of apartheid because of the principle of ethnic separation it involves” (Makdisi, 2010).
Conversely, most Israeli’s refer to the wall as a security fence which is ultimately used as a barrier to prevent terrorism. The paradox interpretation that Palestinians and Israeli’s possess regarding the role of the separation wall implies that the wall performs two significant roles. On one hand, the wall represses Palestinians by depriving them from accessing basic necessities which are only available on the Israel side. On the other hand, the wall protects Israeli’s by preventing terrorism and keeps their state and civilians safe.
As a result, it can be argued that the separation wall is an embodiment of racism and becomes a visible marker of racial segregation used by the Israeli state to ultimately separate the Palestinian Arabs from the Israeli Jews which in turn creates and ‘us’ and ‘them’ dichotomy wherein Palestinians are ‘othered’.