Secretary of State John Kerry with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

UPDATE: After this article was published, Secretary of State John Kerry issued an apology for saying in a closed door session with world leaders that Israel was at risk of becoming an “apartheid state.” Kerry said he wished he would have chosen a different word. “I do not believe, nor have I ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one,” he said. “Anyone who knows anything about me knows that without a shred of doubt.”

When President Jimmy Carter, 24 years after leaving office, accused Israel of carrying out “apartheid” policies in the West Bank even worse than the pre-1994 South African government, he was fiercely criticized by figures from both left and right.

Indeed, U.S. officials, including President Obama, have avoided making the provocative comparison to the institutional racism of the old South African regime until Secretary of State John Kerry warned Friday that Israel could become an “apartheid state” if it fails to negotiate a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

While Kerry didn’t say Israel currently employs apartheid policies, his utterance of the term evokes the position of Palestinian leaders and allies in academia and the United Nations who have used it to brand Israel as a racist government whose policies are motivated not by self-defense against an existential threat, but by bigotry and even genocidal aims.

In one of countless instances since the early 1990s, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas used the term in his 2011 address to the U.N. General Assembly.

“Our people will continue their popular peaceful resistance to the Israeli occupation and its settlement and apartheid policies and its construction of the racist annexation Wall,” Abbas said, referring to the barrier Israel constructed to prevent terrorist attacks.

U.N. Special Rapporteur for Palestine John Dugard stated in a 2007 report that “elements of the Israeli occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law.”

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, a leading anti-apartheid figure in South Africa, last month compared Israel to his home country.

“I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces,” he said in a statement. “Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”

In a closed door meeting Friday with influential world leaders, the Daily Beast reported, Kerry said he believed a two-state solution is the “only real alternative, because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens, or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.”

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, reacted, charging Kerry “used the repugnant language of Israel’s adversaries and accusers.”

“It is startling and deeply disappointing that a diplomat so knowledgeable and experienced about democratic Israel chose to use such an inaccurate and incendiary term,” Foxman said.

Caroline Glick, author of the newly published “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East,” asserted that the possible scenarios for Israel’s future Kerry described in his “apartheid” reference are based on phony demographic data.

Glick, senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post, presents evidence in her book that Israel would maintain a strong and growing Jewish majority in a “unitary state” that includes the territory within the 1949 armistice lines and Judea and Samaria, the West Bank.

In a column, she said that “even if Kerry’s fictional data were correct, the only ‘apartheid state’ that has any chance of emerging is the Palestinian state that Kerry claims Israel’s survival depends on.”

“The Palestinians demand that the territory that would comprise their state must be ethnically cleansed of all Jewish presence before they will agree to accept sovereign responsibility for it,” said Glick.

Carter: ‘A wonderful democracy’

Even Jimmy Carter said after his controversial “Peace Not Apartheid” was published in 2006 that his book had “nothing to do with what’s going on inside Israel, which is a wonderful democracy, you know, where everyone has guaranteed equal rights and where, under the law, Arabs and Jews who are Israelis have the same privileges about Israel.”

His criticism was aimed at Israel’s actions within the Palestinian Territories, which have been governed since the 1993 Oslo Accords by the Palestinian Authority along with Israeli control of certain strategic areas for defense purposes.

Apartheid is defined under the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as: “Inhumane acts … committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

Unlike the old South Africa, in Israel, the Arabs who make up 20 percent of the country’s citizens vote, establish political parties, have representatives in the Knesset and rise to prominent positions, including Supreme Court justice.

Critics of Israel who use the term apartheid charge the Palestinians, in the West Bank and Gaza, are under the occupation of a colonial power that is inflicting physical, emotional and economic suffering through military insurgencies, checkpoints, walls and other restrictions.

Some critics contend that peace talks broke down at the end of 2000 under the Bill Clinton administration in part because Israeli PM Ehud Barak insisted on confining Palestinians to disconnected islands, called “Bantustans” after the territories set aside for blacks in the old South Africa. However, according to negotiators, Israel offered the Palestinians a contiguous state in 97 percent of the territory of the West Bank plus Gaza, which was rejected by Yasser Arafat.

Israel insists its measures in the West Bank, known historically as Judea and Samaria, are necessary, because of the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks on its citizens.

In a New York Times op-ed in 2011, Richard J. Goldstone, a former justice of the South African Constitutional Court, who led the United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict of 2008-9, called the “apartheid” accusation a “particularly pernicious and enduring canard that is surfacing again.”

“Those seeking to promote the myth of Israeli apartheid often point to clashes between heavily armed Israeli soldiers and stone-throwing Palestinians in the West Bank, or the building of what they call an ‘apartheid wall’ and disparate treatment on West Bank roads,” he said. “While such images may appear to invite a superficial comparison, it is disingenuous to use them to distort the reality. The security barrier was built to stop unrelenting terrorist attacks; while it has inflicted great hardship in places, the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the state in many cases to reroute it to minimize unreasonable hardship. Road restrictions get more intrusive after violent attacks and are ameliorated when the threat is reduced.”

Further, Israeli officials argue they have agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank and are calling for negotiations to reach a final agreement.

Destruction of Israel ‘in stages’

Meanwhile, many Palestinian Authority officials have acknowledged to Arabic-language audiences that while they can’t reveal it to the world, their ongoing strategy is to eliminate the Jewish state “in stages” through terrorism and diplomacy.

A senior Palestinian Authority official, Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki, told Syrian TV in January that any agreement will simply be the “first stage” in eradicating Israel.

Zaki explained in a 2011 interview with Al Jazeera that “it is impossible to realize the inspiring idea, or the great goal (of eliminating the Jewish state) in one stroke.”

“If I say that I want to remove it from existence, this will be great, great, [but] it is hard. This is not a [stated] policy. You can’t say it to the world. You can say it to yourself.”

On Palestinian Authority TV last month, Zaki expressed his belief, regarding the Israelis, that “Allah will gather them so we can kill them.”

The charter or covenant of Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and has a joint agreement with Abbas and Fatah, restates the parent Muslim Brotherhood’s slogan of “Allah is its goal, the prophet is the model, the Quran its constitution, jihad its path, and death for the sake of Allah its most sublime belief.” It says Israel “will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.”

Abbas’ Fatah has praised Hamas vows to destroy Israel, and the constitution of the Palestinian Liberation Organization still calls for the elimination of Israel.

The Jews’ 3,000-year connection to the land is regarded as an exaggeration or complete fabrication in Palestinian Authority media and schools, and Jews’ are demonized by political leaders, religious clerics, media and even PA TV children’s programs

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