CBS's Bob Simon Describes Israel As An Apartheid State

Bob Simon, CBS On Sunday’s ‘60 Minutes’ on CBS, anchor Bob Simon reported on the spread of Jewish settlements and at one point described the situation this way: "Demographers predict that, within ten years, Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Without a separate Palestinian state, the Israelis would have three options...They could try ethnic cleansing...they could give the Palestinians the vote...or they could inflict apartheid -- have the minority Israelis rule the majority Palestinians. But apartheid regimes don't have a very long life." In April 2008, Simon interviewed an Israeli Air Force pilot and remarked: "You don’t look like a killer."

Simon spoke to a Palestinian doctor and former presidential candidate, Mustafa Barghouti, who declared: "Unfortunately, and I have to say to you that apartheid is already in place." Simon asked: "Apartheid is already in place?" Barghouti replied: "Absolutely." Simon then made Barghouti’s argument: "Apartheid? Israel is building what it calls a security wall between the West Bank and Israel. The Palestinians are furious because it appropriates 8% of the West Bank. Not only that, it weaves its way through Palestinian farms, separating farmers from their land. They have to wait at gates for soldiers to let them in. Settlers get a lot more water than Palestinians, which is why settlements are green and Arab areas are not."

At the beginning of the segment, Simon laid peace process failures solely at the feet of Jewish settlers: "For peace to have a chance, Israel would have to withdraw from the West Bank, which would then become the Palestinian state. It's known as the two-state solution. But while negotiations have been going on for 15 years, hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers have moved in to occupy the West Bank." Later, Simon explained: "Palestinians had hoped to establish their state here on the West Bank, an area the size of Delaware. But Israelis have sliced it up with scores of settlements... When they [Palestinians] want to travel from one town to another, they have to submit to humiliating delays at checkpoints and roadblocks. There are more than 600 of them on the West Bank."

Simon even described the Jewish settlements as: "...dominating the lowlands like crusader fortresses. Many are little cities, and none of them existed 40 years ago. The Israelis always take the high ground, sometimes the hills, sometimes the homes. And sometimes, Arabs are occupied inside their own homes."

Here are the relevant portions of the ‘60 Minutes’ transcript:

7:21PM SEGMENT:

BOB SIMON: Getting a peace deal in the Middle East is such a priority to President Obama that his first foreign calls on his first day in office were to Arab and Israeli leaders. And on day two, the president made former Senator George Mitchell his special envoy for Middle East peace. Mr. Obama wants to shore up the cease-fire in Gaza, but a lasting peace really depends on the West Bank, where Palestinians had hoped to create their state. The problem is, even before Israel invaded Gaza, a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians had concluded that peace between them was no longer possible, that history had passed it by. For peace to have a chance, Israel would have to withdraw from the West Bank, which would then become the Palestinian state. It's known as the two-state solution. But while negotiations have been going on for 15 years, hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers have moved in to occupy the West Bank. Palestinians say they can't have a state with Israeli settlers all over it, which the settlers say is precisely the idea. Daniella Weiss moved from Israel to the West Bank 33 years ago. She's been the mayor of a large settlement.

DANIELLA WEISS: I think that settlements prevent the -- the establishment of a Palestinian state in the land of Israel. This is the goal, and this is the reality.

SIMON: Though settlers and Palestinians don't agree on anything, most do agree now that a peace deal has been overtaken by events. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti is a former candidate for Palestinian president.

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: While my heart still wants to believe that the two-state solution is -- is possible, my brain keeps telling me the opposite, because of what I see in terms of the building of settlements. So, in a way, these settlers are destroying the potential peace for both people that would have been created if we had a two-state solution.

SIMON: And he told us Israel's invasion of Gaza, all the death and destruction, convinces him that Israel does not want a two-state solution.

BARGHOUTI: I am very worried that what Israel has done has furthered us much further from the possibility of two-state solution.

SIMON: Palestinians had hoped to establish their state here on the West Bank, an area the size of Delaware. But Israelis have sliced it up with scores of settlements and hundreds of miles of new highways that only settlers can use. Palestinians have to drive or ride on the older roads. When they want to travel from one town to another, they have to submit to humiliating delays at checkpoints and roadblocks. There are more than 600 of them on the West Bank. Why do the Israelis have so many checkpoints?

BARGHOUTI: I think the main goal is to fragment the West Bank. Maybe a little bit of them can be justified because they say it's for security. But I think the vast majority of them are basically to block the movement of people from one place to another.

SIMON: Here's how they blocked Dr. Barghouti, who was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Jerusalem, and worked in a hospital there for 14 years. Four years ago, he moved to a town just ten miles away. But now, because he no longer lives in Jerusalem, he can't get back in, ever. Now wait a minute -- you cannot go to Jerusalem?

BARGHOUTI: At all.

SIMON: Can't you get a permit to go?

BARGHOUTI: I asked for a permit to go to Jerusalem during the last year -- the last two years, about 16 times, and 16 times they were rejected. Like most Palestinians, I don't have a permit to go to the city I was born in, to the city I used to work in, to the city where my sister lives.

SIMON: Here's what he's up against -- scores of Israeli settlements dominating the lowlands like crusader fortresses. Many are little cities, and none of them existed 40 years ago. The Israelis always take the high ground, sometimes the hills, sometimes the homes. And sometimes, Arabs are occupied inside their own homes.

...

SIMON: Another crippling reality on the West Bank is high unemployment, now about 20%. So some Palestinians can only find jobs building Israeli settlements. They're so ashamed to work here that they asked us not to show their faces. The settlers now number about 280,000, and as they keep moving in, their population keeps growing -- about 5% every year. But the 2.5 million Arabs have their strategy, too; they're growing bigger families. Demographers predict that, within ten years, Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Without a separate Palestinian state, the Israelis would have three options, none of them good. They could try ethnic cleansing, drive the Palestinians out of the West Bank; they could give the Palestinians the vote -- that would be the democratic option, but it would mean the end of the Jewish state; or they could inflict apartheid -- have the minority Israelis rule the majority Palestinians. But apartheid regimes don't have a very long life.

BARGHOUTI: Unfortunately, and I have to say to you that apartheid is already in place.

SIMON: Apartheid is already in place?

BARGHOUTI: Absolutely.

SIMON: Apartheid? Israel is building what it calls a security wall between the West Bank and Israel. The Palestinians are furious because it appropriates 8% of the West Bank. Not only that, it weaves its way through Palestinian farms, separating farmers from their land. They have to wait at gates for soldiers to let them in. Settlers get a lot more water than Palestinians, which is why settlements are green and Arab areas are not.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC