Apartheid. This word conjures up specific images and ideas: Mandela, Sharpeville, De Klerk, pariah status, divestment and perhaps most importantly, South Africa. Thus, discourse about Israel’s status as an Apartheid state devolves into discussions about the similarities and differences between Israel and South Africa.
Such debate is unhelpful and distracting. Apartheid, like genocide, has an internationally recognized legal definition. For genocide, the definition was institutionalized in the aftermath of World War II. Obviously genocides differ with respect to policies, severity, and method: compare the Rwandan genocide and the Nazi Holocaust, for example. But few would argue that what happened in Rwanda was not genocide because it looks different from other genocides.
And given the definition of Apartheid, Israel’s domination of the Palestinians fits the bill.
The 1998 Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court defines Apartheid as actions or policies “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” (Emphasis mine).