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Hafrada (Hebrew: הפרדה‎ lit. separation) is the policy of the Government of Israel to separate the Palestinian population in Palestinian territories from the Israeli population.[1][2][3][4][5]

In Israel, the term is used to refer to the concept of "segregation" and "separation",[6][7] and to the general policy of separation the Israeli government has adopted and implemented over the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.[8][9][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

The Israeli West Bank barrier, (in Hebrew, Geder Ha'hafrada or "separation fence")[8] the associated controls on the movement of Palestinians posed by West Bank Closures;[8][10][16] and Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza have been cited as examples of hafrada.[8][10][16][17]

Other names for hafrada when discussed in English include unilateral separation[8][18] or unilateral disengagement.[10][12][19][20][21][22][23]

Since its first public introductions, the concept-turned-policy or paradigm has dominated Israeli political and cultural discourse and debate.[2][7][8]

In 2014, United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard A. Falk used the term repeatedly in his "Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967".[24][25][26]


  • Origins and Public Discourse 1
    • Israel-Gaza barrier 1.1
    • Unilateral separation and unilateral disengagement 1.2
    • Israeli West Bank barrier 1.3
  • Usage examples 2
    • By Israelis 2.1
    • By Palestinians 2.2
    • By activists & advocacy organizations 2.3
    • By journalists 2.4
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Origins and Public Discourse

The adoption by the Israeli government of a policy of separation is generally credited to the ideas and analysis of Daniel Schueftan as expressed in his 1999 book, Korah Ha'hafrada: Yisrael Ve Harashut Ha'falestinit or "Disengagement: Israel and the Palestinian Entity".[8][27][28] An alternate translation for the title in English reads, "The Need for Separation: Israel and the Palestinian Authority."[29]

In it, Schueftan reviews new and existing arguments underlying different separation stances, in order to make the case for separation from the Palestinians, beginning with those in the West Bank and Gaza. Schueftan favours the "hard separation" stances of politicians like Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, while characterizing the stance of politicians like Shimon Peres, as "soft separation".[28]

Israel-Gaza barrier

Yitzhak Rabin was the first to propose the creation of a physical barrier between the Israeli and Palestinian populations in 1992, and by 1994, construction on the first barrier - the Israeli Gaza Strip barrier - had begun. Following an attack on Bet Lid, near the city of Netanya, Rabin specified the objectives behind the undertaking, stating that,
"This path must lead to a separation, though not according to the borders prior to 1967. We want to reach a separation between us and them. We do not want a majority of the Jewish residents of the state of Israel, 98% of whom live within the borders of sovereign Israel, including a united Jerusalem, to be subject to terrorism."[30]

The first Israeli politician to campaign successfully on a platform based explicitly on separation, under the slogan of "Us here. Them there," was Ehud Barak.[10][30]

In the U.S.-based journal Policy Review, Eric Rozenman writes:
"Barak explained hafrada — separation — this way in 1998: 'We should separate ourselves from the Palestinians physically, following the recommendation of the American poet Robert Frost, who once wrote that good fences make good neighbors. Leave them behind [outside] the borders that will be agreed upon, and build Israel.'"[8][30]

After assuming office in 1999, Barak moved to "stimulate cabinet discussion of separation" by distributing copies of Haifa University Professor Dan Schueftan’s manifesto, Disengagement, to his ministers.[8] The separation policy was subsequently adopted by Israel's National Security Council, where Schueftan has also served as an advisor.[28] According to Gershon Baskin and Sharon Rosenberg, Schueftan's book appears to be "the working manual for the IDF and wide Israeli political circles" for the implementation and "unilateral construction of walls and fences."[28]

In October 2000, Ha’aretz journalist Gideon Levy commented in the Courrier International that public support by an overwhelming majority for "hafrada" was an outgrowth of the average Israeli's indifference to the history and lot of the Palestinians - which he contrasted with Israel's demand that Palestinians study the Holocaust to understand Jewish motivations.[2]

In Mapping Jewish Identities, published that same year (2000), Adi Ophir submitted that support for what he calls "the major element of the apartheid system – the so-called separation (hafrada) between Israelis and Palestinians," among Zionists who speak in favor of human rights is attributable to internal contradictions in Zionist ideology.[31]

In February 2001, Meir Indor, Lieutenant Colonel in the Israeli army submitted that "hafrada (separation) – they are there and we are here" had become the "new ideology" and "new word for those who fantastize about peace."[32] Indor aimed strong criticism toward Ariel Sharon's proposed peace agreement put forward during the 2001 elections in which Sharon claimed he would provide "peace and security" by making "a hafrada the length and breadth of the land."[32] Indor stated that in his opinion, "If it were possible to make a hafrada, it would have been done a long time ago." He also noted that, "Binyamin Ben Eliezer himself said hafrada is impossible to implement."[32]

Unilateral separation and unilateral disengagement

In 2002, Rochelle Furstenberg of Hadassah Magazine reported that the term "unilateral disengagement" or "Hafrada Had Tzdadit" had been unknown to the public eight months previous, but that the notion had gained momentum.[19]

That same year, a television broadcast of The McLaughlin Group on the subject of Israel’s separation policy opened with the words: "Jews call it hafrada, "separation," in Hebrew. Critics call it apartheid. The more technical neo-nomenclature is, quote, unquote, "unilateral disengagement." It's an idea that has gained ground in Israel."[12]

Israeli West Bank barrier

Construction on the Israeli West Bank barrier or "separation fence" began in 2002. Forming "a central pillar" of Ariel Sharon's "unilateral separation plan" or what is known today as Israel's unilateral disengagement plan,[18] it was put before the Israeli public in mid-December 2003.[33]

The barrier has been described by Daniel Schueftan as constituting, "the physical part of the strategy," of unilateral separation. Schueftan has explained that: "It makes the strategy possible because you cannot say 'this is what I will incorporate and this is what I will exclude' without having a physical barrier that prevents movement between the two."[33]

Sharon had originally dubbed his unilateral disengagement plan - in Hebrew, Tokhnit HaHitnatkut, or Tokhnit HaHinatkut - the "separation plan" or Tokhnit HaHafrada before realizing that, "separation sounded bad, particularly in English, because it evoked apartheid."[21] Formally adopted by the Israeli government and enacted in August 2005, the unilateral disengagement plan resulted in the dismantlement of all settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank.

Schueftan has characterized Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan as only the first step in a "wider historical process."[29]

Telling The Jerusalem Report in 2005 that he could "even pin the dates on it," he suggested that in 2007 or 2008, there would be another major disengagement in the West Bank; and that before 2015, Israel would unilaterally repartition Jerusalem along lines of its own choosing. Schueftan argued that the "underlying feature" of disengagement is not that it will bring peace, but rather that it will prevent "perpetual terror".[29]

Implementation of hafrada has continued under the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.[10][13][18][34]

Usage examples

By Israelis

  • Eitan Harel, professor of Biology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told Le Monde Diplomatique in May 1996: "Our priorities have changed. The dream of a Greater Israel has been replaced by the reality of a small Israel. What matters to people is to live better here, and if you ask them what they wish for and wait for, the majority response is : hafrada, separation."[35][36]
  • Esther Zandberg described an art exhibition entitled "Hafrada (Separation)" in a June 2005 edition of Ha'aretz as consisting of pictures of 12 separation sites photographed by Yair Barak, Orit Siman-Tov and Amit Grun that represent, "apartheid walls between Caesarea and Jisr al-Zarka and between Nir Zvi and the Arab neighborhood of Pardes Snir in Lod; the architectural monstrosity of the Carmel Beach Towers in Haifa, which stick up like a raised fist opposite the distressed neighborhood of Neveh David; the threatening wall surrounding the luxury residential Holyland neighborhood in Jerusalem; and several other sites."[7]
  • In a paper entitled "Nishul (Displacement):Israel's Form of Apartheid," Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, wrote that: "Hafrada (Apartheid in Afrikaans) is the official Hebrew term for Israel’s vision and policy towards the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories – and, it could be argued (with qualifications), within Israel itself."[9]

By Palestinians

  • In a 2006 discussion on the prospects for peaceful resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict sponsored by The Institute of Strategic and Development Studies, Mazin B. Qumsiyeh, a former Yale professor and geneticist and advocate for a one-state solution, said: "Now, Israel today uses a new word. You probably have heard it mistranslated. In Hebrew it’s called hafrada. Hafrada means literally segregation or separation. But in the worst Israeli propaganda machine at CNN and other news outlets, they use the word 'convergence' - you heard about [Olmert Ehud], Olmert’s convergence. Convergence doesn’t mean anything. What is convergence? It’s not a translation of hafrada. Hafrada means segregation, separation; that’s what it means."[11]

By activists & advocacy organizations

  • In 2006, James Bowen wrote in an opinion editorial in Ha’aretz that he and fellow activists from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign see, "hafrada (separation) [a]s the Zionist form of apartheid" and argued that "...Israel should be treated like the old South Africa."[15]
  • In a 30 May 2006 media communique entitled Sunday Herald's Linguistics Gymnastics, Honest ReportingUK addressed the use of the word hafrada by Sunday Herald editor David Pratt. It stated that, "just a cursory glance at a Hebrew-English dictionary reveals that the term 'Hafrada' does not literally mean 'apartheid'. Also, as a concept, 'Hafrada' has certainly not entered the Israeli lexicon, but rather, the term 'Geder Hafrada' ('Separation Fence') referring to Israel's security barrier. Thus, Pratt deliberately and dishonestly claims that Israelis have begun to privately use their own term for "apartheid" while inaccurately stating that Israel's security barrier and the apartheid ideology are one and the same."[41]

By journalists

  • On 26 May 2006, David Pratt, Scottish Sunday Herald Foreign Editor wrote that: "Even among Israelis, the term 'Hafrada', 'separation or apartheid in Hebrew' has entered the mainstream lexicon, despite strident denials by the Jewish state that it is engaged in any such process."[41]
  • In a January 2007 article entitled "Further footnotes on Zionism, Yoder and Boyarin," Alain Epp Weaver wrote that it was, "strategic demographic and territorial goals" that gave birth to "a policy of hafrada, Hebrew for separation."[10]

See also


  1. ^ Cultural Autonomy in Contemporary Europe, edited by David J. Smith, Karl Cordell, "The Hebrew term Hafrada is the official descriptor of the policy of the Israeli Government to separate the Palestinian population in the territories occupied by Israel from the Israeli population, by means such as the West Bank barrier and the unilateral disengagement from those territories. The barrier is thus sometimes called gader ha'hafrada (separation fence) in Hebrew. The term Hafrada has striking similarities with the term apanheid, as this term mean 'apartness' in Afrikaans and Hafrada is the closest Hebrew equivalent."
  2. ^ a b c  
  3. ^ According to the Milon and Masada dictionaries, hafrada translates into English as "separation", "segregation", "division", "severance", "disassociation" or "divorce". Milon: English Hebrew Dictionary
  4. ^ Alcalai, Reuben (1981). The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary. Masada. 
  5. ^ Undoing and Redoing Corpus Planning, Michael G. Clyne, p.403, "In the Language of “us" and “them" we could have expected an undoing when an integrative policy of the two communities was introduced. Obviously the [Peace] Process moves in the opposite direction: separation. Actually, one of the most popular arguments use by the government to justify its policy is the "danger" (“the demographic bomb”, “the Arab womb") of a “bi-national state" if no separation is made: the Process is thus a measure taken to secure the Jewish majority. The term ‘separation’ ‘’hafrada’’ has become extremely popular during the Process referring to fences built around Palestinian autonomous enclaves, to roads pave in the Territories exclusively for Israelis to the decrease of the number of Palestinians employed in Israel or allowed to enter into it altogether. The stereotypes of the Palestinian society as backward" have not changed either."
  6. ^ Beyond the Two-State Solution: A Jewish Political Essay, Yehouda Shenhav, "Israel's present separation policy - known in Israel as hafrada, a Hebrew Word which can mean both segregation and separation - is a natural continuation of the cultural-political position designed by the new nostalgia and of the demographic project, which constitutes the continuation of the war through other means."
  7. ^ a b c Esther Zandberg (28 July 2005). "Surroundings: Separation Seems to Have Spread Everywhere".  
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Eric Rozenman (April & May 2001). "Policy Review"Today's Arab Israelis, Tomorrow's Israel: Why "Separation" Can’t Be the Answer for Peace in .  
  9. ^ a b c  
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Alain Epp Weaver (1 January 2007). "Further footnotes on Zionism, Yoder, and Boyarin". Cross Currents. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  11. ^ a b Mazin B. Qumsiyeh (28 June 2006). "Discussion on: Searching for Peace in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict". Institute of Strategic and Development Studies,  
  12. ^ a b c "Transcript from broadcast of The McLaughlin Group". The McLaughlin Group. Taped 24 May 2002 & broadcast 1 to 2 June 2002. Retrieved 2007-03-22. 
  13. ^ a b Ben Shani (19 January 2007). The Result of the Hafrada Policy is Quiet in Hebron, But All Await the Storm" (Hebrew)""". Magazine (original from Channel 10 News). 
  14. ^ Fred Schlomka (28 May 2006). "Toward a Third Intifada".  
  15. ^ a b James Bowen (28 September 2006). "Making Israel Take Responsibility". Retrieved 2007-03-22. 
  16. ^ a b Neil Sandler (11 March 2002). "Israel: A Saudi Peace Proposal Puts Sharon in a Bind". Business Week Online. 
  17. ^ Tanya Reinhart (March 22, 2004). "Israeli policy in Gaza: Sharon's Disengagement". Center for Research on Globalization. 
  18. ^ a b c  
  19. ^ a b Rochelle Furstenberg (November 2002). "The Left Regroups on the Fence". Hadassah Magazine. Retrieved 2007-03-22. 
  20. ^ Shlomo Brom (November 2001). "Strategic Assessments"The Many Faces of Unilateral Disengagement in . Volume 4, No. 3. The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at  
  21. ^ a b  
  22. ^ Aaron Klieman has distinguished between partition plans based on "hafrada", which he translated as "detachment"; and "hipardut", translated as "disengagement."
  23. ^ Aaron S. Klieman (2000-01-15). Compromising Palestine: A Guide to Final Status Negotiations. Columbia University Press. p. 1.  
  24. ^ "A/HRC/25/67, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967". 2014-01-13. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^  
  28. ^ a b c d Gershon Baskin & Sharon Rosenberg (June 2003). "The New Walls and Fences:Consequences for Israel and Palestine". Centre for European Policy Studies. 
  29. ^ a b c Leslie Susser (19 September 2005). "Gaza: The Doomed Experiment (Reprinted at the website of the Australian/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council)".  
  30. ^ a b c David Makovsky. "How to Build a Fence". 
  31. ^ Adi Ophir (2000). "The Identity of the Victims and the Victims of Identity: A Critique of Zionist Ideology for a Post-Zionist Age". In Laurence Jay Silberstein. Mapping Jewish Identities. NYU Press. p. 196.  
  32. ^ a b c Interview by Shai Gefen. "Waiting To See Which Sharon We'll Get After The Elections". Beis Moschiach Online Edition. 
  33. ^ a b "The ICJ Hearing on the Wall Awaiting a Momentous Ruling". Zawya (original from Monday Morning). 25 February 2004. Retrieved 2007-03-22. 
  34. ^ Jerrold Kessel & Pierre Klochendler (February 2006). "Israel votes for separation". Ha'aretz, English Edition. Retrieved 2007-03-17. 
  35. ^ Original French reads: "Nos priorités ont changé. Au rêve du Grand Israël a succédé la réalité du petit Israël. Ce qui compte pour les gens, c’est de vivre mieux, ici. D’ailleurs, demandez-leur ce qu’ils souhaitent, surtout après les attentats. La réponse majoritaire, c’est : hafrada la séparation."
  36. ^  
  37. ^ a b "The Hafrada Wall".  
  38. ^ Roxane Ellis Rodriguez Assaf (May 2003). "Sabeel's Rev. Naim Ateek Calls Israeli apartheid by its Hebrew Name: Hafrada (Special Report)".  
  39. ^ Michael Hirst (October 2004). "Four Years Later: Assessing the status of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, four years after the start of the second intifada".  
  40. ^ Commitment for Life Programme, United Reformed Church, UK (September 2004). "Israel/Palestine: The Wall Is Illegal". Christian World Service. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  41. ^ a b  

External links

  • Baltimore Sun"Toward a Third Intifada" by Fred Schlomka, opinion piece published on May 28, 2006 by the
  • (Hebrew) Know what is the Separation Fence
  • Readers respond to Sunday Herald
  • The Israel Project, USA
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