Lattanzi-Silveus ’14: Solidarity with resistance to apartheid

Opinions Columnist
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

This week marks the fourth annual Israeli Apartheid Week at Brown. It comes at a time of great Palestinian resistance. These are some of the broadest protests we’ve seen in a while, which makes solidarity with this resistance to apartheid all the more important.

The first major protest was held Feb. 21 in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners at Ofer Prison. Many of the prisoners at Ofer are Palestinian children. These hundreds of children were prosecuted by military court — something that, of course, would not occur to a Jewish Israeli citizen. Most of the children plead guilty, whether or not they actually were. They pled guilty because the alternative would mean detention whilst awaiting the outcome of lengthy court proceedings. This detention could ultimately last three times longer than detention for a guilty plea. These protests intensified after it was revealed on Feb. 24 that one of the detainees, Arafat Jaradat, was tortured to death.

This and many other forms of legal discrimination are made possible by the unique distinction Israel draws between citizenship and nationality. While it is much easier for Jews to gain Israeli citizenship than it is for Arabs, technically anyone can become an Israeli citizen. But only Jewish people can obtain Jewish nationality, which grants a whole distinct set of rights. There are some thirty laws that specifically privilege people of Jewish nationality, in areas such as immigration rights, naturalization, access to land and employment. Citizens of Israel are also required to carry identification cards that allow the Israeli military to immediately determine whether a person is Arab or Jewish.

Another major protest took place in response to the continued closure of Shuhada Street to Palestinians in Hebron. This street is the heart of the Hebron market. While Jewish settlers are allowed to set up shops on this street, Palestinians are legally forbidden to do so. Palestinians are also not allowed to use certain Israeli-only highways in the West Bank. Most of the Hebron settlement is illegal under international law, as are many other settlements in occupied Palestine. And yet the Jewish settlers are protected by the Israeli military, while this same military does very little to protect Palestinians from regular violent abuse by the settlers.

Meanwhile, there was a protest last Friday against the separation wall. The wall puts many parts of the West Bank on the Israeli side, de facto annexing these parts for Israel. It is one of the many elements severely restricting Palestinian movement. Palestinians sometimes have to wait days at checkpoints before being allowed to pass between regions — if they are allowed at all. Palestinians cannot return to their homeland or move freely in the area that is supposedly Palestine.

The Israeli army responded to this series of protests with gas canisters, rubber bullets, skunk water, flashbangs, live rounds and, in the last case, tank-fire.

These protests aren’t just a response to recent events. They are about decades of occupation and apartheid. The United Nations’ definition of apartheid is “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” As the definition suggests, the crime of apartheid is not something that is meant to apply only to South Africa.

The system in place in Israel today, while of course in some ways different from that which occurred in South Africa, fits the definition of apartheid perfectly. The Israeli laws mentioned above are inhuman and specifically set up so that Jewish people systematically dominate the Arabs.

The purpose of this apartheid is the removal of Palestinians from the land. It is a settler-colonial project meant to create a modern, Jewish state — at the expense of the Palestinians. Israel has managed to make about 5.5 million Jewish people the majority in a state which encompasses most of the native homeland of about 10 million Palestinians. Around half of the Palestinian people have been forced out of their land and are now refugees. This is the secret of the so-called democratic state of Israel. Palestinians can vote, but the Israeli government keeps them artificially in the minority by not allowing the Palestinians that they forced out of Israel to return.

The Palestinian people are fighting back against Israeli apartheid, but they could use all of the help they can get. Not only are all of the forces of the Israeli state against them, but this state is propped up by $3 billion every year in United States foreign aid as well as the technical expertise of many U.S. companies. Israeli Apartheid Week is meant to help people learn about Israeli apartheid and the hardships of the Palestinian people. But more importantly, it is meant to involve people in the goal of divesting from this apartheid state.



Luke Lattanzi-Silveus ’14 is a member of Brown Students for Justice in Palestine and would love to be contacted at


  1. Apartheid?


    “To clarify: Wahhabism is the only officially
    recognized and allowed religion in Saudi Arabia. Other forms of Islam and other
    religions are banned and persecuted by the state. Saudi Arabia is the only
    Islamic state in which there is no church, no synagogue and no other place of
    worship of any other religion. Shiite Muslims have been systematically
    discriminated against for decades. Jews are even forbidden to enter the
    Kingdom. Saudi Arabia practices a form of Sharia law that is one of the most
    brutal systems in the world. Saudi Arabia has at all times rejected the
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Women may not drive a car and
    can be punished by flogging. Corporal punishment, including amputations and
    executions, are part of everyday life in the country. Just two weeks ago a
    Sudanese immigrant in Saudi Arabia was publicly beheaded for ‘sorcery.’ Saudi
    Arabia is one of the few countries in the world in which the death penalty is
    enforced even on teenagers,” the paper said.

  2. ·
    There is no “Palestine”. There might have been, but they chose war instead-
    time and again:

    The would-have-been “Palestinians” would have had a state IN PEACE in 1937 with the
    Peel Plan, but they violently rejected it.

    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 1939 with the MacDonald White Paper, but
    they violently rejected it (and Jews would have even been restricted from
    BUYING land from Arabs).

    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 1948 with UN 181, but they violently
    rejected it (and actually claimed that the UN had no such mandate!).

    They could have had a state IN PEACE in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza from 1948-1967
    without any Jews- because the Arabs had ethnically cleansed every last one; but
    they violently rejected it. In fact, that’s exactly when they established Fatah
    (1959) and the PLO (1964).

    They could have had a state IN PEACE after 1967, but instead, the entire Arab world
    issued the Khartoum Resolutions:

    A. No peace with Israel

    B. No recognition of Israel

    C. No negotiations with Israel

    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 2000 with the Oslo Accords, but they
    violently rejected it- as always.

    And as soon as Israel pulled every single Israeli out of Gaza, what did the
    would-have-been “Palestinians” do? They immediately started shooting thousands
    of missiles into Israeli population centers, they elected Hamas (whose official
    platform calls for jihad with no negotiations until Israel is destroyed) to
    rule them, and they have dug tunnels crossing into the Negev to kill and kidnap

    And even afterwards, Ehud Olmert made his subsequent generous offer that went far beyond even that of Barak. The would-have-been “Palestinians” rejected it.

    They had many chances.

    They threw them all away because destroying Israel was higher on their priority
    list. It still is.

    Oh well. That’s their choice.

  3. Given that you support the Palestinians who openly advocate Jewish genocide (see
    their duly elected leaders clear-cut party covenants), you correspondingly do
    as well. It’s hard to believe in this day and age that anyone would openly
    advocate the liquidation of Jews, but you clearly do and it doesn’t seem to
    bother you a whit.

    Moreover, it would be hard to believe that anyone would support second class status for
    women, the honor murder of teenage girls, the brutalization of gays and the
    suppression of dissenters. But you, as supporters of the Palestinians who
    regularly practice all of the above, are therefore complicit in these sexist,
    racist and fascist beliefs as well.

    Why are you so bigoted, misogynist, anti-gay and such hater of Jews? Please tell us
    pray tell.

    And if to be opposed to such garbage practiced by so many Muslims world-wide makes one an Islamophobe, count me and all who believe in freedom and hate sexism and
    bigotry vs Jews as a proud Islamophobe.

  4. Your article reads like a piece of Palestinian propaganda–it provides a distorted, inaccurate view of events. For instance, the prisoner at the center of the hunger strike is a member of a terrorist group. The wall has decreased suicide bombings by roughly 90 percent since its construction and noone waits days at checkpoints as the article claims. Additionally, the millions of Palestinian refugees fled the Arab armies which attacked Israel in 1948. There are many other errors in this article and Israel is in no way an apartheid state.

  5. ‘Arafat’ has said it concisely. Can ANYONE deny the truth of the matter. Israel wishes to live in peace and the so called ‘Palestinians’ have shown in every and any way possible that they want the destruction of Israel and the Jews more than any other consideration. The ‘editorial above is long on words and loose on fact and truth.

  6. This is Luke’s M.O.


    “Now the very twisted illogic that has characterized classic anti-Semitism is being directed at the Jewish state, which for the anti-Semite has become “the Jew” among nations. When Israel sent help to tsunami and hurricane victims, the Jewish state was accused of merely trying to garner positive publicity calculated to offset its mistreatment of Palestinians. When Israeli medical teams save the lives of Palestinian children, they must be up to no good. When it was disclosed that the Israeli army has the lowest rate of rape against enemy civilians, radical anti-Zionists argued that this was because Israeli soldiers were so racist that they did not find Palestinian women attractive enough to rape! Nothing the Jew or the Jew among nations does can be praised, because its purpose is always to “manipulate,” to “conceal,” to “divert attention away from” or to “distort” the evil that inheres in all Jewish actions and inactions. Everything the Jewish nation does is part of a grand conspiratorial plan.”

  7. As an Alum, I just want to thank Mr. Lattanzi-Silveus for his critically important article. This is a wonderful article. It is clear that the people below have not even read the article and go back to old argument lines that suffer from a severe lack of fact. What Mr. Lattanzi-Silveus has written is well agreed upon by most of the world. The question for us is how we can act in solidarity with Palestinians. Mr. Lattanzi-Silveus offers an important suggestion for a first step. Thank you. These articles make me proud I went to Brown. Keep them coming!

  8. Thank you Luke for your piece! As you eloquently note, it is not that we are innocent bystanders in the violence visited against the Palestinian people by Israeli forces–we are part and parcel of that terror because of our monetary support of Israel. At the minimum, we should divest from companies that support occupation and discrimination and allow the Palestinians to effectively resist Israeli colonization efforts.

  9. tory elmore says:

    luke- i, too, am proud to be a brunonian when i read your articles, though much less so when i read the incoherent, ranting comments left on them. not a single person that is familiar with ‘your m.o.’ could possibly construe it as ‘bigoted, misogynist, anti-gay and hater of Jews.’ rather, luke’s m.o. is to take an honest look at the world and write about what he sees where most people choose to turn a blind eye or uphold blatantly self-serving opinions. i know luke to be both intelligent, well-informed, and reasonable- i challenge his dissenters not to stop dissenting, but rather to make some type of coherent argument that luke can engage with.

    rock on luke. your voice makes the world a more informed place.

  10. Great article, Luke. As a Brown alum, I’m glad to see current students shedding light on Israel’s racist apartheid regime, a regime that has become a linchpin of the American government’s imperial strategy in the Middle East and the world at large. It’s critical for people of conscience everywhere to speak out and identify the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people for the crime that it is, and join in the BDS movement to win equal rights for the people of Palestine.

  11. Luke, i am glad people like you exist. Considering the history of solidarity with those fighting against Apartheid, it is important that we continue doing this work.

    People get mad because they do not like to be reminded that they are complicit in genocide.

    Keep up the good work.

  12. Jared Paul says:

    This is a very well written article. Thank you for laying out the facts so clearly. The U.S. government is using our tax dollars to fund apartheid and time will show that we are the wrong side of history

    • Well it’s sweet to see the Luke fan-club out in force. Very touching. Really. Leaves me wondering what else you fellas do in your free time.

      Riddle me this, dear chaps:


      Why is it Muslims are free to violently conquer lands
      anywhere and everywhere without a word of protest from American Muslims, or any
      Muslims for that matter, but if Jews have a legally established homeland
      Muslims will never stop protesting against it? Why is this do you suppose? What
      explanation can be given other than as the Qur’an states repeatedly that
      Islam’s goal is to establish a worldwide caliphate in which all non-Muslims are

      For instance, Mohammed was born around 571 AD thousands and
      thousands of years after Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism existed. But within a
      few centuries of Mohammed’s birth Islam had violently conquered vast sections
      of Asia, all of North Africa and smaller sections of Southern Europe.

      Now Muslims tell us that all this land belongs to them even
      though, for instance, in Afghanistan they killed every last Buddhist who
      once lived there.

      According to Muslim logic per Israel shouldn’t this land
      belong to the Buddhists?

      Or in North Africa all the Berbers have been forcibly
      converted to Islam or have been killed and now we’re told all this vast landmass
      belongs to Islam. That’s interesting, if not completely hypocritical.
      And what about Southern Thailand. Did anyone know that in the last several years
      something like 5,000 Buddhists have been killed by Muslims because, or so we’re
      told, the land the Buddhists are on belongs to Islam.
      And Southern Russia? Muslims are relentlessly waging a slow reign of terror in Russia because, you guessed it, Russians are treating Muslims poorly and they should give up the Southern section of that country to Muslims.

      Or, let’s take Sudan as another example. How many millions
      have been killed in Sudan? How many babies and children have starved in Sudan
      while Islamists steal the food from aid compounds? How many women have Muslims
      gang-raped in Sudan all because that land belongs to Muslims and only Muslims.
      All other people can go somewhere else to live, I guess.

      And Kashmir? The same. Despite Hindus having lived there for
      3,000 years – something like 2,000+ years before Mohammed was born –
      Muslims tell us Kashmir belongs to them. Amazing logic isn’t it?

      And that brings us to Israel. Israel also belongs to Islam.
      Did you know that? It’s true. Even though it’s no bigger than a small pimple on
      the caliphate’s ass it is still their land and they will fight to the death
      to prove their point.

      Doesn’t the logic here make a lot of sense. Isn’t it as
      clear as day? Of course it is. The world belongs to Islam and we’re mere players on
      their stage.

      • anonymous says:

        what is it exactly that YOU do in your free time? it seems you spend a lot of it here, ranting at mr. lattanzi-silveus

      • anonymous says:

        also, do you simply post the same argument, word-for-word on any article mentioning israel and palestine? your copy/paste keys seems to getting some good exercise…

        what was it that albert einstein said? ah, yes. the definition of insanity… doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

        just a thought

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