On 24 July, Israeli apartheid crossed the Atlantic Ocean, 9437 km (5864 miles) to detain five American human rights defenders. The group was denied entry to Israel while still on American soil, at the Dulles International Airport, in Virginia. The passengers, prohibited from boarding the plane destined for Tel Aviv, were part of a larger group of a multi-denominational delegation. The ‘grounded’ group of five represents three non-governmental organizations in the USA: Jewish Voice for Peace, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and American Muslims for Palestine. Each organization has deeply-rooted human rights principles that unapologetically embrace the full spectrum of Palestinian rights; a common denominator with BADIL.
BADIL, as a Palestinian human rights organization, works to promote and defend the rights of the Palestinian people, specifically those who have been displaced. The reference for all our work is the frameworks of international humanitarian, human rights, and refugee law. Under Israel’s colonial and institutionally discriminatory regime, the most basic and fundamental Palestinian rights are ignored and violated. BADIL, through its awareness raising, research and advocacy engages the international community to address this reality.
Apartheid and particularly Israeli apartheid knows no bounds, no distance too great for it to infiltrate. While it was initiated against the Palestinian people in Palestine, it has expanded both geographically and with respect to the targeted group. At each evolution of Israeli apartheid, international complicity was sought and ultimately received.
Not only were Palestinians forcibly displaced en masse but they were also prevented from returning – whether displaced 1 km (0.62 mile) or 10,000 km (6214 miles) away. Preventing Palestinian return is one of the main tenants of Israeli apartheid. Israel extended its apartheid towards the United Nations (UN), repeatedly and consistently denying entry to special committees and rapporteurs and commissions of inquiry. In addition to effectively and erroneously disrupting the work of the UN, Israel fails to fulfill its duties as a member of that international body. And as in the past, these breaches of international law are accompanied by the absence of effective international intervention.
The denial of entry of the five American human rights defenders signals another chapter in the Israeli apartheid saga: anyone who promotes human rights and specifically stands in solidarity with Palestinian rights is now a target. According to testimony from one of the group of five, ‘Israeli immigration authorities’ via a written request, instructed Lufthansa Airlines not to allow these passengers to board the plane. Their request to see the document was denied and no further explanation was provided. In this particular incident, Lufthansa Airlines overtly abetted Israeli apartheid by following through with the order to not allow the human rights defenders to even check in their bags and board the plane.
Israel’s evolution from denying the right of return to the almost 8 million Palestinian refugees and IDPs, to denying entry to official and sanctioned international representatives of the UN, to denial of entry to any and all who promote a just and durable solution to the plight of the Palestinian people bears serious deliberation to say the least. This evolution is the result of the lack of political will to hold Israel accountable to its innumerable human rights violations and crimes, specifically in this case apartheid. Furthermore, the enablers of Israeli apartheid, like Lufthansa Airlines, should reassess the consequences of their actions which amount to complicity in the international crime of apartheid.
In March and April, through its partnership with JVP, BADIL embarked on a speaking tour to the USA. The two week tour provided the opportunity to connect with these organizations and many others. By establishing strategic links and transcending borders through shared principles and goals of a rights-based approach for democratic and equitable societies, the scope and impact of our individual organizations multiplied exponentially. Our combined strengths and efforts create a powerful force that provides the foundation to combat the injustice of Israeli apartheid from Palestine to the USA and brings us closer to actualizing Palestinian return.