It’s okay to say apartheid…but only about Bahrain

on 7 Comments

Nicholas Kristof tweets that Bahrain is “apartheid-like” on the news that the country has sentenced doctors to prison for treating demonstrators during this year’s uprising in Bahrain.  Anthony Shadid, the veteran New York Times Middle East correspondent, also used the term “apartheid” in a recent piece on Bahrain:

Five months after the start of a ferocious crackdown against a popular uprising — so sweeping it smacks of apartheidlike repression of Bahrain’s religious majority — many fear that no one can win.

It’s true that the Bahraini state is, at the very least, “apartheid-like” for its brutal repression of and discrimination against the majority Shi’a population.  It’s also true that Bahrain, and occasionally Saudi Arabia, are the only countries that the New York Times would dare call apartheid states.  Perhaps Bahrain would escape the label if its prime minister was named Benjamin Netanyahu.


Shadid outlines what tools the government is using in the repression of Bahraini activists:  torture, arrests, discrimination, killing, bulldozing Shiite mosques and more. 

A very similar situation is the everyday reality in Israel/Palestine.  There, an apartheid state [pdf] that privileges one ethnicity over another tortures, arrests, discriminates, kills and bulldozes the property of its non-Jewish subjects.  Apartheid, anyone?  Yes, but not in the New York Times.

Alex Kane is a New York City-based freelance journalist who blogs on Israel/Palestine at  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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7 Responses

  1. seafoid
    September 29, 2011, 10:11 am

    The Bahraini Sunni ruling minority raises the spectre of Iran as a reason to deny the majority Shia their rights. Where else in the Middle East is this technique used?

  2. Dex
    September 29, 2011, 10:31 am

    The term “apartheid” is not even controversial when applied to Israel at this point. We all know it is an apartheid state.

    Part of the Zionist strategy is to control the vernacular of the discourse, and ensure it remains endless. So instead of developing coherent strategies of resistence, we were, for a long time, bogged down in a war of definitions/words: is it “disputed” or is it “occupied;” what is “apartheid,” are they “settlements” or “neighborhoods;” and so forth…

    • seafoid
      September 29, 2011, 12:39 pm

      They aren’t settlements. They are Jewish communities.

      “Livni: My problem is that of security. Some said to me that there would be violence among my people if I evacuated them, but the pressure will be less if I give the right to choose. I cannot bear the responsibility of their life in case they are exposed to danger and then the army will have to interfere. ”

      Livni: “The idea behind our desire to annex Ariel settlement was not to get more water but because thousands of people live there. We want to have an answer for those who have lived there for forty years.”

  3. justicewillprevail
    September 29, 2011, 12:43 pm

    Actually, it is even worse than apartheid in Israel. As reported recently it is ‘apartheid on steroids’.

  4. piotr
    September 29, 2011, 1:41 pm

    Of course, there is an enormous difference between Aparheid state in South Africa and Israel.

    For starters, Africaners mistakenly thought that they are Chosen people, while Jews in Israel are indeed Chosen.

    Second, South African Whites got control of the land by a very precise unequivocal act of British Parliament, while Zionists got a seemingly vague declaration that can be properly interpreted only with divine guidance. And because of that divine guidance, the moral claim of Zionists is much superior.

    Third, Aparteid regime was oppressing nearly 80% of people under its control, and Israeli duly elected democratic government only 30%. Another 10% enjoy full freedom, except for serving as exhibits in a shooting gallery and subjects of experimentation of Israeli dieticians.

    Fourth, Apartheid regime did not really care how the oppressed people live. While Israeli care enormously. Did South African White cut trees here, bury wells there, demolish house extension here, close preschool there, douse the oppressed with properly skinking water here (secret formula obtain through years of research!), subject them to intolerable electonically generated noise there, wake kids in the middle of the night here….

    I think it is utterly unprecedented how energies and creativity of one nation can revolve on making shit to another one.

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