Executives at a major broadcasting company stepped in this week to block the airing of a segment on Hill TV that defended Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., amid an ongoing controversy inside the Democratic Party.
Tlaib had been attacked by colleagues for saying, “I want you all to know that among progressives, it becomes clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values yet back Israel’s apartheid government.”
As a co-host of the Hill TV morning show “Rising,” presenter Katie Halper on Monday made the controversy the subject of her Radar: the name “Rising” uses to brand its monologues. Each show includes two Radars, one from a left perspective and one from a right perspective, and as a former co-host of the show, I’ve recorded more than 150 of them. There is no approval process: A co-host files a script, which is loaded into a teleprompter. The monologue is then recorded, with a back-and-forth discussion and debate with the other co-host following it. The segment is then uploaded to a variety of platforms along with the rest of the show.
But Halper — who spoke publicly about the censorship Thursday evening on her livestream — said that Monday’s process was different. After the taping of the segment, producers asked co-host Robby Soave to do what’s known as a “pick up,” a fairly standard editorial addition to a segment. In this case, Soave was asked to repeat something that had already been included, namely the perspective of Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt that stood in opposition to Tlaib. Later, Halper was told the segment was being reviewed and held up. Later in the week, she was told it wouldn’t run. When she asked if she could discuss the subject in her next appearance on Hill TV, she was told her invitation had been rescinded, according to an email from an executive with Nexstar Media Group, which owns Hill TV, along with scores of local news channels and the cable channel NewsNation, which recently hired former CNN presenter Chris Cuomo.
Halper’s monologue examined Tlaib’s claim that Israel has the characteristics of an apartheid state by exploring the definition of apartheid and quoting from human rights organizations such as Israel-based B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. She quoted former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak saying that Israel could become an apartheid state if it didn’t change course, and so on.
Halper also made reference to Israeli laws that bar Palestinians from traveling freely or living in Israel proper even if they are married to an Israeli, as well as to laws that grant or exclude entry into the country specifically on the basis of religion or ethnicity.
The decision of whether to post the segment was kicked from “Rising” producers to The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack. In a call with Halper on Wednesday, he framed Halper’s segment as similar to an op-ed submission, telling her that The Hill accepts some submissions and rejects other submissions, and that this right extends to Hill TV journalism as well.
Producers told Halper that perhaps a standard segment would work, but when Halper proposed to a Nexstar executive that she use her next appearance for such a segment, she was told her services would no longer be needed.
“We wanted to let you know that we will not be needing you to appear on Rising tomorrow am,” the executive told Halper Wednesday in an email she provided to The Intercept. “Please feel free to submit any unpaid invoices for your work on Rising. We wish you all the best.”
Gary Weitman, the chief communications officer for Nexstar, declined to comment.
Halper’s monologue is below:
I’m not a Jewish colleague of Tlaib, but I am a Jew and I am outraged. Not by Tlaib, but by the attacks on Tlaib. Rashida Tlaib is saying that Israel is an apartheid state and that people who claim to have progressive values cannot support an apartheid state. No matter how loose a definition of progressive we use, it certainly excludes supporting a racist apartheid system.
What’s outrageous is that Tlaib would be pilloried over her comments. What’s outrageous is that the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt would claim that Israel is not an apartheid government. What’s outrageous is that Jake Tapper would accept Greenblatt’s judgment as the truth and not propaganda that needed to be pushed back against.
I understand that Greenblatt and perhaps Tapper “feel” like Israel is not an apartheid state but unfortunately for them, apartheid isn’t about your feelings. It’s about facts.
So let’s look at the facts on the ground.
First of all, what is apartheid?
Apartheid is an Afrikaans word that means apartness. It was the official policy in South Africa from 1948 and 1994, allowing white South Africans, in the minority, to rule over and discriminate against the vast majority of Black South Africans.
But apartheid doesn’t just apply to South Africa. In 1973, the U.N. defined “the crime of apartheid” as including “similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in Southern Africa,” as well as any “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.” In 1998, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defined apartheid as “inhumane acts of a character” that are “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.”
These inhuman acts include, among others “infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups. … Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including … the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. … Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof.”
Israel’s own laws certainly fit this definition of apartheid.
Look at the Law of Return of 1950 and tell me it’s not apartheid. The law allows any Jew, which means anyone with one Jewish grandparent, the right to move to Israel and automatically become citizens of Israel. It gives their spouses that right too, even if they’re not Jewish. Palestinians, of course, lack that right.
Lest you had any doubts about that, the Israeli Citizenship Law of 1952 deprived Palestinian refugees and their descendants of legal status, the right to return and all other rights in their homeland. It also defined Palestinians present in Israel as “Israeli citizens” without a nationality and group rights.
These laws together obviously fit into the International Criminal Court’s apartheid criteria: The Israeli laws prohibit “members of a racial group” “the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence.”
The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law of 2003, which was reauthorized in March of this year, makes people who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip ineligible for the automatic granting of Israeli citizenship and residency permits that are usually available through marriage to an Israeli citizen. Not only can non-Israeli Jews not get Israeli citizenship through their Israeli spouses, but in some cases they can’t live with them in Israel.
More recently, the controversial Nation State Law established that “The fulfillment of the right of national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It also stipulated, “The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.” It cancels the status of Arabic as an official language, and omits all mention of Israel as a democracy, the equality of its citizens, and the existence of the Palestinian population.
This legal obliteration of Palestinians clearly fulfills the U.N.’s definition of apartheid, dividing “the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups.”
These are just some of the reasons that human rights organizations have declared Israel an apartheid state. Of course it should come as no surprise that Palestinian human rights organizations have been calling Israel’s government an apartheid one for decades. Al Haq, Al Mezan’s Center for Human Rights, Adalah: the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and Addameer: Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association have documented Israeli apartheid.
More recently, organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also conceded that Israel enacts apartheid policies.
Israel’s own human rights organization B’Tselem has declared, “The Israeli regime enacts … an apartheid regime. B’Tselem reached the conclusion that the bar for defining the Israeli regime as an apartheid regime has been met after considering the accumulation of policies and laws that Israel devised to entrench its control over Palestinians.” B’Tselem divides the way Israeli apartheid works into four areas:
“Land – Israel works to Judaize the entire area, treating land as a resource chiefly meant to benefit the Jewish population. Since 1948, Israel has taken over 90% of the land within the Green Line and built hundreds of communities for the Jewish population. Since 1967, Israel has also enacted this policy in the West Bank, building more than 280 settlements for some 600,000 Jewish Israeli citizens. Israel has not built a single community for the Palestinian population in the entire area stretching from the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River (with the exception of several communities built to concentrate the Bedouin population after dispossessing them of most of their property rights).
Citizenship – Jews living anywhere in the world, their children and grandchildren – and their spouses – are entitled to Israeli citizenship. In contrast, Palestinians cannot immigrate to Israeli-controlled areas, even if they, their parents or their grandparents were born and lived there. Israel makes it difficult for Palestinians who live in one of the units it controls to obtain status in another, and has enacted legislation that prohibits granting Palestinians who marry Israelis status within the Green Line.
Freedom of movement – Israeli citizens enjoy freedom of movement in the entire area controlled by Israel (with the exception of the Gaza Strip) and may enter and leave the country freely. Palestinian subjects, on the other hand, require a special Israeli-issued permit to travel between the units (and sometimes inside them), and exit abroad also requires Israeli approval.
Political participation – Palestinian citizens of Israel may vote and run for office, but leading politicians consistently undermine the legitimacy of Palestinian political representatives. The roughly five million Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, cannot participate in the political system that governs their lives and determines their future. They are denied other political rights as well, including freedom of speech and association.”
Israeli officials and politicians, too, have described their own country as an apartheid state.
Former attorney general Michael Ben-Yair wrote in 2002, “we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture. That oppressive regime exists to this day.”
Zehava Galon, former chair of Israel’s Meretz party, said in 2006, Israel was “relegated” to “the level of an apartheid state.”
In 2007, Israel’s former education minister Shulamit Aloni wrote, “the state of Israel practices its own, quite violent, form of apartheid with the native Palestinian population.”
In 2008, former environment minister Yossi Sarid said, “what acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck — it is apartheid.”
Even Israel’s prime ministers have used the A word. In a recently published 1976 interview, assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said, “if we don’t want to get to apartheid … I don’t think it’s possible to contain over the long term, a million and a half [more] Arabs inside a Jewish state.”
In 2007 yet another prime minister, Ehud Olmert, warned, “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.” Well, Israel isn’t finished, but they do face a “South African-style struggle.”
Prime Minister Ehud Barak said in 2010, “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan river there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”
Surely South African leaders who suffered, struggled, and finally destroyed apartheid in their nation understood what apartheid is. And the great South African leaders Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu saw Israel policies as apartheid. In 1997 Mandela said, “The U.N. took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
In 2013, Desmond Tutu recalled being struck by the similarities between what he experienced in apartheid South Africa and what he observed in Israel.
To my friends in the Democratic Party who want to support Israel and who who want be progressives, it is important to listen to what international law, Israeli politicians and South Africans leaders and apartheid survivors say about the apartheid system in Israel. But we would all do well to look at what South Africa did with its apartheid system. Simply put, it left apartheid behind.
So the question we should be asking ourselves as progressives and Americans and some of us as Jews is not how to excoriate Rashida Tlaib for pointing out the obvious, or how to turn all criticisms of Israel as challenges to Israel’s right to exist or as expressions of anti-Semitism. Rather, the question to ask is how an apartheid-free Israel would look.