Coined in South Africa, apartheid is a universal legal term enshrined in the Rome Statute establishing the ICC. It is composed of three elements: an intent to maintain domination by one ethnic group over another; systematic oppression by the dominant group over a marginalised group and inhumane acts.
However, the Rome Statute, as correctly cited in the HRW report, officially defined apartheid – adopted a few years after the end of South African apartheid – in part as the “intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another”.
The word “ethnic”, contrary to the wording in The Times article, is not used in the definition.
This is important distinction, since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can not reasonably be characterised as one based on race. The word “ethnic”, in its common usage, encompasses of “large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background”, a much broader category which, the Times journalist would have known, lends more credibility to the charge of apartheid against Israel.
Whilst we don’t know what was in Ms. Philps’ mind when she made that error, it seems unlikely she could have accidentally gotten the entire definition right, save that one word – especially since, as we noted, the HRW report she cited used the correct word “racial”.
To their credit, editors promptly upheld our complaint and changed the word “ethnic” to “racial”.