"Israeli Apartheid Week" is not about Social Justice!

Posted by Olivier Melnick on March 18, 2016

For the twelfth year in a row, campuses around the United States and now even around the world are promoting an event known as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). The decade old movement has picked up quite a bit of momentum in the last few years as we can see on their interactive map of events around the world. The vast majority of anti-Israel events will take place in the United States and Western Europe, with more in South Africa and South America. The claim is made that Israel is guilty of apartheid just like South Africa was. In a short video, a spokesperson for the AJ+ news website explains apartheid and leads the viewers to connect South African protest against it to Palestinian protest against Israeli apartheid. While her description of South African apartheid is somewhat accurate, her linking it to Israel is a giant stretch based on many false presuppositions. Yet, that well produced video and many more of the sort are fueling organizations such as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).

In their mission statement, which they call their "Basis of Unity", IAW claims that:" The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement." furthermore, they also state that they are "against the racist ideology of Zionism, which is the impetus for Israeli colonialism, because it inherently discriminates against those who are not Jewish. We are against all forms of discrimination, and believe that there can never be justice without the restoration of full rights for everyone, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or nationality."

Their promotional video has a message of unity and social justice accompanied by a catchy reggae-style tune. It starts with a bold statement saying:" One has to keep telling the story in as many ways as possible, as it insistently as possible, and in as compelling a way as possible, to keep attention to it, because there is always a fear it might just disappear." In and of itself the message is true, but what they apply it to isn't. Over the years, the IAW organizers have invited Israel haters, antisemites, historical revisionists and Holocaust deniers alike. People such as Noam Chomsky, Illan Pappé, who while not blatantly denying the Holocaust, accuses the original victims [the Jews] of perpetrating a new Holocaust on the new victims [the Palestinians] and Rabbi Yisrael David Weiss from anti-Jewish (you read it right!) group Neturei Karta, to name just a few. Or even Omar Barghouti from Qatar who along with his anti-Israel BDS stance has also pursued a PhD at Tel Aviv University. So much for apartheid Mr. Barghouti!

So, if I understand IAW promoters, it is appropriate to further tell the story–as unfounded as it might be–of Israeli occupation and crimes against Palestinians, and it is equally appropriate, if not expected, to perpetuate the notion that the Holocaust never happened or was grossly exaggerated.

Over the years, what started as a series of meeting over a few campuses in America and even fewer across the globe, has grown to over 150 locations globally. IAW sympathizers go out of their way to encourage others to boycott Israel and  divest any funding they could from the only democracy in the Middle East, all in the name of social justice. Recently they have used what is known as intersectionality. This approach to social justice connects all types of oppressions and abuses under the same banner. Writer and lecturer Ziva Dahl explains "Proponents of intersectionality see a world of all-encompassing oppression, where racism, classism, sexism, homophobia and ableism constitute an intersecting system. All injustices are interconnected, even if occurring in unconnected geographic, cultural and political environments. This is the rationalization for building alliances among unrelated causes like LGBTQ rights, fossil fuel divestment, prison reform, racial discrimination and immigration."

Anti-Israel organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, are quick to add the Palestinian struggle to all other minorities' fights against injustice. So, now we can save the whales, promote transgender people and divest from Israel all in one fell swoop! After all, it is all about minorities being abused! This also leads to having groups who share no common ground ideologically, hold hands against Israel and the Jewish people. This builds a stronger case for what I call End-Times antisemitism as it illustrates incredible irrationality.

But where is the outrage for all the other countries of the world that commit or have committed crimes against humanity? According to the International Criminal Court in La Hague, Netherlands, a crime against humanity, as defined in their "Rome Statute" is any of the following:

• Murder
• Extermination
• Enslavement
• Deportation or forcible transfer of population
• Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law
• Torture
•  Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity
• Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious and/or gender
• Enforced disappearance of persons
• The crime of apartheid
• Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

Where is the call to boycott China, Sudan, North Korea, Rwanda, Congo or Syria among others? Where is the public cry to denounce the multiple genocides and ethnic cleansing around the globe? It is a stretch, but even if these people were to continue pointing the finger at Israel for crimes that they haven't committed, why are they not also pointing the finger at Hamas for crimes that they are committing? Sure, it can be argued that not all Palestinians are terrorists, but regarding those who are, why are they still being given "carte blanche" to commit more crimes? Israel Apartheid Week is more than blindness or ignorance, it is a willful vilification of Israel and it has absolutely nothing to do with global social justice.

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6 comments on “"Israeli Apartheid Week" is not about Social Justice!”

  1. It is difficult for Americans to have sympathy for Jewish people because the typical American Jew is (1) wealthy, (2) in a high position of the corporate ladder, and (3) they do not act oppressed or discriminated against. As a matter of fact, American Jews seem to have no complaints at all. Therefore that's how we view the Jews in Israel and around the world. What's the fuss? My Jewish friends are fat, healthy, wealthy, happy, and have no complaints!

    1. Gary, I am not fat nor wealthy. I am Jew and proud that I was born Jewish 89 years ago and that I am British. Could it be that you are an anti-Semite? You should have a deep think about that.

  2. It's obviously not time yet, but the bations are certainly beginning to line up against Israel. How much longer, Lord? Save your people!

  3. You are mistaken about apartheid in South Africa. Mandela and the African National Congress were communist. There was a more popular party; Inkatha, which was primarily Zulu but also many whites. They were overran by the powers that be in favor of Mandela. Your typical white So. African farmer did not murder black men and rape their wives. Since the take-over by Mandela and his party there has been a great deal of this happenning to the whites. The horrors of South Africa do not make the news as they are definitely not politically correct. It is very much like the horrors in Israel. Please do not allow the world to shape your views of those issues other than Israel as you do not regarding Israel. Thank you

  4. If you think all Jews are wealthy then you are very much misinformed. In Israel 25% of adults and 30% of children live below the poverty line. Most American Jews are not "in a high position of the corporate ladder". Many American Jews are found among doctors, scientists, lawyers and judges, and teachers. Many are also businessmen but not usualy CEOs of big corporations. More often they own smaller business or middle-level real estate Some are movie producers or agents. Some are rabbis or teaching Judaism. Most of the Jews I have met and hard-working and well educated and have earned their place in society through their own efforts.

    Before you judge Israelis I suggest you go to Israel and spent some time among Jews who live their. Many of them descendants of Holocaust survivors. If there is No Jewish state then any nation in the world that turns against Jews puts their lives at risk. The history of the Holocaust makes the existence of a Jewish state imperative. Non-Jews who live in Israel have democratic rights. Jews are not allowed to live in any Palestinian controlled territory. This is the real Apartheid.

  5. Gary, you are very misinformed yourself and do not have the capacity to speak on behalf of Americans because of your inaccurate beliefs. First of all to say that all Jews are rich is perpeturating a stereotype. In Israel 25% of adults and 30% of children live below the poverty line. In America very few are high on the corporate ladder. You obviously do not personally know very many Jews or you would know that they are found in many different professions and most are middle-class and not wealthy. Most work hard and value education and have earned their place in society. More and more American Jews today are experiencing antisemitism which is growing throughout the world. They may not seem to have complaints but if you eally knew many Jews personally you would know that they have concerns about the future. They see for example that many Jews in France are leaving to go to Israel because they no longer feel safe and they may wonder if the same thing could happen in America even if they do not share this with you. If I were Jewish I would not feel safe to confide in you because of your antisemitic attitudes (holding on to stereotypes)

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