Human Rights Watch calls on UN member states, including Canada, to “impose targeted sanctions (…) against Israeli officials responsible for grave international crimes, including apartheid and persecution”

After many years of careful research, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has come out with a strong report condeming Israel for its “Crimes of apartheid and persecution” against Palestinians. Palestinians have been saying this for many years but up to now, few have been listening. This report comes on the heels of a similar report by B’tselem, an Israeli organization and a determination by the International Criminal Court to investigate Israeli actions. Canada has yet to comment. In a video interview, CTIP talks with HRW’s Canada director Farida Deif. Read more and watch the interview.

“The report covers nearly every aspect of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians in Israel proper, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank. It is impressively detailed—marshalling Israeli laws, government plans, statements by politicians, and evidence accumulated over years of monitoring Israeli abuses (…) everywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea” wrote Jewish Currents magazine.

The significance of this latest report from Human Rights Watch “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authoriies and the Crime of Apartheid and Persecution”, lies NOT in the detailed outlining of human rights violations by Israel against the Palestinians. All that has been laid out many times before by Palestinian speakers, analysts, organizations and movements. They have been echoed by United Nations organizations, including the OCHA and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian territories. And the refrain has even been picked up by some Israeli organizations like Bt’selem, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Zochrot and Breaking the Silence, among others.

HRW’s recent report recognizes that there are differences between how Israel treats Palestinians inside Israel, in Jerusalem, in the West Bank and in Gaza. But EVERYWHERE it is based on discrimination and Jewish Supremacy.

What’s new in “A Threshold crossed” are three new and significant elements:

  1. The allegation that Israel practices apartheid NOT ONLY in the Occupied Territories, but everywhere Israeli rule extends, including inside Israel itself in its treatment of its own Palestinian Citizens of Israel. It is a regime of “Jewish Supremacy” everywhere.
  2. The claim that 50 years after Israel took over the West Bank and Gaza, it is clear that this is not meant to be a “temporary occupation” but a permanent takeover, which is illegal under international law.
  3. Its call on specific actors – including states like Canada– to apply sanctions against the responsible Israeli authorities.

“This report connects the dots between Israel’s varying policies to show that they are driven by “one system, one policy, and one intent” to secure the permanent rule of one group over another”, explained Omar Shakir, the organization’s Israel-Palestine director, in an interview with +972 Magazine.

Shakir participated in an hour long webinar with progressive American jews organized by Peter Beinart on Friday, April 30. He was asked many probing questions about the report, and why HRW decided to come out with it at this point.

What role Canada?

HRW (…) said Canada and other foreign governments should re-evaluate their relationships with Israel and impose sanctions on the officials responsible for the discriminatory policies.” wrote Mark McKinnon of the Globe and Mail.

CTIP spoke to Farida Deif, HRW’s Canada director about the report, and specifically about how the Canadian government (and the Canadian media) has responded.

“Successive Canadian governments have long viewed Israel’s 54-year abusive occupation as a temporary situation that a 30-year peace process will soon cure,” said Farida Deif, Canada director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s high time for the Trudeau government to acknowledge that Israeli authorities are committing crimes against humanity and leverage its close partnership with Israel to end these violations.”


Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

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  1. Thank you, Peter and HRW Canada for this interview. I think that the HRW report is getting the attention it deserves (though not on CBC apparently) and is one more indication that the situation in Israel is untenable.

  2. Thanks CTIP for raising this important issue.

    Soon, on May 15th, Palestinians and their friends will commemorate Nakba (the expulsion of more than 700 000 Palestinians from their homes in 1947-48 by Zionist militia to create Israel on the Palestinian land). Human Rights Watch report says:

    “International human rights law guarantees to refugees and exiles the right to enter the territory they are from, even where sovereignty is contested or has changed hands, and reside in areas where they or their families once lived and have maintained links to.”

  3. Thanks Peter for the interview and publicity for the Hrw report on apartheid and persecution in Israel Palestine. Canada should be encouraged to follow the recommendations for targetted bilateral sanctions against Israeli officials who perpetrate these crimes and to support international investigational prosecution through the ICC UN and other organizations. Canadian govt excuses for inaction are no longer valid given the evidence presented. They should end with a full recognition of Palestine at UN in concert with EU countries US and the 160 countries that already recognize Palestine . Recalling the NGO forces and boycotts that contributed an end to apartheid in South Africa, Canada should as as well as supporting NGO action like BDS which seek to end apartheid, persecution and occupation in Israel Palestine with the 2 state solution of equal Israel qnd Palestine which Canada claims to be its and the international community’s final goal.

  4. Thank for this Peter. Given the Human Rights Watch report ,along with the recent one by the Israeli organization B’tselem , one wonders how long Prime Minister Trudeau can continue the narrative that Canada and Israel “share common values”.

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