Make Apartheid History



Launched in 2015 – a year that marks:

10 years since the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

25 years since Mandela’s release

60 years since Rosa Parks sat down

800 years since Magna Carta

Make Apartheid History is a follow-up to Bethlehem Unwrapped

A group of artists built a full-scale replica section of Israel’s apartheid wall in central London, revealed on Christmas Eve 2013 in front of one of the UK’s most famous churches. Thirty thousand people visited the Wall installation. The Wall and the accompanying Bethlehem Unwrapped festival (music, dance, poetry, film comedy, cuisine, debate) received global media coverage, reaching a worldwide audience of millions via social media.

Following this success, the lead producers of Bethlehem Unwrapped are working with new partners in the UK and Palestine to launch an ambitious programme of events beginning in July 2015 under the banner Make Apartheid History.

Our mission: to honour Mandela Day with an action that:

  • Alerts the world to an ongoing system of apartheid oppressing the Palestinian people
  • Strengthens solidarity between artists, activists and civil rights movements around the world
  • Inspires people to take action to ensure the full recognition, exercise and enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms for all.






Events & updates 

Video collection



OPGAI (Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative), PSCC  (Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee), Bedouins Without Borders, Tipping Point North South, Pressure Cooker Arts,   ICAHD UK (Israeli Committee against House Demolitions UK).  In partnership with Artists for Palestine UK and Palestine Legal Action Network.

Why we STILL need to Make Apartheid History – Our Rationale

Although South Africa is most associated with apartheid and is the context from which the term originates, the crime of apartheid has a far broader definition. ‘Apartheid’ isn’t a term of insult; it is a word with a specific legal meaning. [1]

While the regime that inspired the drafting of the Apartheid Convention came to an end in South Africa in 1990, apartheid continues to exist under international law as a crime against humanity that applies to other situations.

The term ‘the crime of apartheid, which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to … 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.

Article II, International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, UN General Assembly Resolution 3068, 30 November 1973

Injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine. In the same period the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; … which helped us to bring an end to this ubiquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.

Address by President Nelson Mandela at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, 1997

I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, June 2014

The following examples of the crime of apartheid specifically mentioned in the Convention are important to highlight in relation to Israel’s ongoing policies and practices towards the Palestinians:

  • Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right of life and liberty of person … by the infliction upon 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
  • 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 … [including] the right to leave and return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence …
  • 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 expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group. [2]

In 1998, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted at an international conference. The ICC Statute includes the ‘crime of apartheid’ in a list of ‘crimes against humanity, describing apartheid as:

inhumane acts … committed in the context of an institutionalised 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 …

Israel was one of the seven countries (out of 148) to vote against the statute.

In 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) criticised Israeli policies in terms of ‘apartheid’. The Committee’s observations covered Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and highlighted how the same discriminatory patterns are found on both sides of the Green Line (i.e. in both occupied territory and in Israel). It described ‘segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities’ a lack of ‘equal access to land and property’, and ‘the ongoing policy of home demolitions and forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities’ in the Negev (Naqab).

CERD also focused on the lack of a ‘prohibition of racial discrimination’ in Israel’s Basic Law, as well as more recent developments, such as the restrictions on family unification affecting Palestinian citizens.

The Committee’s 2012 observations, which echo a stream of reports by respected human rights organisations and observers, have been described as the most cutting CERD recognition and condemnation of a legal system of segregation since apartheid South Africa.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

The Russell Tribunal was initiated by Lord Bertrand Russell to ‘prevent the crime of silence.’ It has no legal status but acts as a court of the people, a Tribunal of conscience, faced with injustices and violations of international law, that are not dealt with by existing international jurisdictions, or that are recognised but continue with complete impunity due to the lack of political will of the international community.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) was established in 2010, in response to the international community’s inaction towards Israel’s recognised violations of international law. The RToP was composed of eminent people – Nobel Prize Laureates, two former heads of state, writers, journalists, actors, film directors, scientists, professors, lawyers and judges – from all states, including Israel.

The final session in 2013 summarised the Tribunal’s findings which defined Israel’s overarching treatment of the Palestinians as apartheid and sociocide. In addition to the responsibility of states, the UN and the EU, it highlighted the responsibility of private corporations that assist Israel in its violations of international law.

Jurors brought the Tribunal to a close with an urgent appeal to all political actors and civil society to bring pressure to bear on Israel to halt its violations of international law, to dismantle its system of apartheid and rescind all discriminatory laws and practices.

Let’s heed their call. Take action. Make Apartheid History.

  1. Saree Makdisi, Does the term ‘apartheid’ fit Israel? of course it does,Op-Ed, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2014.
  2. For further information and examples of how apartheid applies to the situation in Palestine, see Ben White’s Israeli Apartheid: A Beginners Guide, Pluto Press 2009.

Special Thanks To

Thanks to Amiel and Melburn Trust for support of Make Apartheid History’s educational and informational activities.

Amiel and Melburn Trust


Make Apartheid History is supported by funding from Trust Greenbelt.