ISRAELI APARTHEID WEEK:
POLITICAL THEATER AT ITS WORST
FrontPage Blog, March 8, 2011
The mob roars its hoarse, ear-splitting chants. “Death to the Jews,” “Death to Zionism,” “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free.” Keffiyas abound: On heads, over faces, around shoulders. The Arab “street” is on the move—in Toronto, Montreal, Amherst, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, St. Louis, Houston, Berkeley, and in Oxford, Belfast, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Zurich, and many other Western cities.…
Yes, it is that time of year again. March is not only Women’s History Month. It is also the month in which Israeli Apartheid Week is appearing in 55 cities around the world. I use the word “appearing” advisedly. This is political theatre at its worst (or at its diabolical best), the kind of Living Theatre (pace, Judith Malina, I am not writing about your Living Theatre) that is meant to end with a genocidal attack on the Jewish state or, at the very least, its dismantling. There is no such thing as truth, everything is relative, there is no reality, only theatrical subjectivity. One of Berkeley’s Apartheid Week activities is “Resistance Through Rhymes,” a free concert and presentation including various hip-hop artists.
Oh, I am such an alarmist. So selfish, so provincial. The Arab Muslim Middle East is on a major meltdown; even as I write, Daffy Gaddafi is brutally massacring his own people, and here I go again, concerned with the Jews. There are eighty million non-Jews in Egypt alone, and here I am, concerned with the fate of, at most, 13-14 million Jews world-wide, of whom a mere six million live in Israel. Have I no shame?
But Israel is the symbol of what’s best about the West: the rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to dissent, individual rights, human rights, gay rights.… Allow me to say, not once, but a hundred times: Israel is not now and has never been an Apartheid or Nazi nation state. It is nothing—absolutely nothing–like the former South Africa.…
The Israel = Apartheid charge is not only anti-Semitic and therefore racist; it is ridiculous on its face. How can Israel be an apartheid state when there is no legal separation between Arabs and Jews in Israel? Unlike black South Africans under apartheid, Arabs (“the Palestinians”) are citizens. Fourteen of the 120 members of the current Knesset are Arabs. Arabs can work in the same offices, learn in the same schools, receive medical treatment in the same hospitals, and relax on the same beaches. Yes, there is some discrimination against Muslim and Christian Arabs, (as well as discrimination against Jews from Arab countries), and some de facto racial segregation in Israel—just as there is in America, Canada and Europe, and in every other country where Israeli Apartheid Week events will be taking place.
Please realize: The Arab, mainly Muslim Middle East, is almost entirely “judenrein;” Jews have been ethnically cleansed from these lands. For that matter, Christians, cannot worship openly and are savagely persecuted. Muslims who convert to Christianity are honor murdered. Finally, both Jews and Palestinians are denied citizenship, residency, and certain jobs in the Arab Muslim countries of the Middle East.
These week-long/nearly month long Israeli Apartheid Week pageants provide no such balance, no context, no historical or moral perspective. They fail to note that Muslim-majority countries are religious supremacists; that Muslims feel “persecuted” when infidels have rights of any kind, and have persecuted, exiled, force-converted or slaughtered Hindus, Sikhs, Ba’hai, Zoroastrians, Christians, and Jews—who are also peoples of color.…
How and why has Israeli Apartheid Week come into being and remained in existence for six years? The monied Saudi Lobby, the former Soviet Lobby, the Arab League Lobby; the influence of Edward Said’s work on the post-colonial anti-racist western academy; the world-wide rise and influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Liberation Movement, Hamas, Hezbollah and Khomeinism; the anti-American and pro-”Palestinian” Western Left (with its penchant for theatrical politics)–have all played a part in this grotesque tragedy.
In addition, Charles Jacobs, President of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, has suggested that the extraordinarily ugly, and really out-of-control anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred on American campuses is due, in part, to the failure of American Jewish organizations to both acknowledge and combat it. And to a long-term, patient, and little-noticed Arab-American strategy. Jacobs writes:
“In 1990, (more than 20 years ago), James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, explained on Jordanian TV how the Arab Lobby can and will match Jewish political and organizational success in America. Zogby and his allies recognized that the campus and the media, unlike Capitol Hill, are two battle grounds that Arabists could win by allying themselves with the American left. In both venues they already had beachheads and feet on the ground. The campus was in transition politically, influenced by ‘60s tenured radicals who had adopted the dogma of post-colonialism, and its Palestinian version, Professor Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism.’” Moreover, America was experiencing a significant increase in foreign born Muslim students as well as increased Muslim immigration (many from countries with a culture of vicious anti-Semitism). Zogby focused on forming alliances with Marxist professors, die-hard socialist activists, African- American student groups, gay-lesbian groups and, most importantly, Jewish progressives.
Zogby’s strategy, together with massive Arab funding, has quite clearly worked. The world now believes that the most important and most persecuted group alive are the Palestinians and that the Israelis oppress and torment them, are the sole cause of their enormous suffering, and that Israel is, indeed, an Apartheid nation state.
However, the real victim is not the barefoot Palestinian peasant but the Jewish state. Israel is engaged in an asymmetrical battle for its very existence.… The propaganda war against Israel, especially as personified by Israeli Apartheid Week has grown grotesquely out of hand. It will not be simple or easy to reverse.…
CANADIAN LEADERS STANDING TALL
AGAINST ISRAEL APARTHEID WEEK
Pajamas Media, March 4, 2010
In the aftermath of what emerged…as a wildly successful Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canadians are basking in an uncharacteristically bullish glow of national pride.… [However], hard on the winged heels of an inebriating Olympics…with nation rivaling nation through positive, amicable achievement, there slouched into Canada (amongst other countries) a rough beast that shames the very idea of man as political animal: the annual eight-day immiseration known as Israel Apartheid Week (IAW).
IAW is something like a multi-site Olympiad itself, except that in this cheerless, failure-glorifying anti-Olympiad, the world does not come together. Instead, it is prised apart in a scapegoating orgy of thinly disguised Jew-hatred.
On this front, ironically without spending a cent, by dint of political courage and real leadership, Canadian politicians have begun in earnest to take ownership of a long-empty moral podium by addressing the escalating pathology of anti-Semitism fueling IAW and reaffirming Israel’s legitimacy—and more, Israel’s importance to Western interests.
Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) has for some years now been a well-oiled engine of hate belching toxic black smoke as it chugs in full-throated spate across a good part of the academic globe. It may have reached a tipping point of its own making in Canada (whose University of Toronto campus “boasts” the dubious distinction of having provided the venue for this continent’s first IAW). Indications of this tipping point are not making their way to public podiums via the obvious spokespeople: university presidents and their boards of governors. Academics and their administrators—with honorable exceptions—have been traditionally timid about standing up to campus thugs, preferring to hide behind the rubric of academic freedom to allow hate speech, while refusing to exercise their own academic freedom to condemn it.…
Fear, not justice, drives university administrations, and so these bodies are too often the last place to look for political boldness in dealing with organized bigotry. For too long, indeed, anywhere was the last place to look for political courage in staring down the obscenity of IAW. So it has come as a pleasant surprise to fair-minded Canadians that recently politicians of all stripes have felt emboldened to step up to the radioactive plate of expressed solidarity with Israel and/or expressed disassociation with Israel-haters.
In late February the province of Ontario’s legislature issued a denunciation of IAW. Progressive Conservative party legislator Peter Shurman, its promoter, stated: “The term Israeli Apartheid Week incites hatred against Israel, a democratic state that respects the rule of law and human rights, and the use of the word ‘apartheid’ in this context diminishes the suffering of those who were victims of a true apartheid regime in South Africa.”
The motion received unanimous support from all sitting members of the provincial parliament (MPPs), including—and this surprised many Canadians—members of the staunchly socialist New Democratic Party (NDP)…[whose] elected members’ views on the Middle East range from merely hostile to virulently anti-Israel. So if provincial NDPers felt free to join in this motion, then the denunciation was not an aberration, but an indicator that the times they are a-changin’ in Ontario, Canada’s bellwether province.…
Apart from rabid anti-Semites and true politicopaths, there would be a natural limit to how many times even the most “progressive” amongst our left-leaning elites can listen to the same frothing-at-the-mouth diatribes against Israel, the same demonstrably odious canards of “apartheid,” “terror state,” and “Nazis” leveled against a demonstrably democratic state, without feeling intellectually soiled by their complicity with the evil of anti-Semitism demonstrably fueling the IAW phenomenon.
One senses an air of the general public being fed up, causing a trickle-down of self-doubt to circulate among the reflexively Israel-bashing herd of political correctniks. One feels a turning in the zeitgeist, the dawning realization even among the dullest-witted sympathizers of the Palestinians that their so-called anti-Zionist militants in the IAW movement, who have never been at pains to disguise the anti-Semitism driving their political campaign, are finally becoming an embarrassment to their rank-and-file leftist shills.
Clinging to their tattered rags of political dignity, IAW’s erstwhile useful idiots are beginning to tire of dancing like trained monkeys to their zealous organ-grinder’s grotesque polka: “It’s about Israel, not Jews.” Fewer and fewer passers-by are attentive to that superannuated jingle, or throwing even small change into that rusty tin cup.…
Today, a little confused, I must confess I am having difficulty adjusting to the new reality of Canadian leadership…on the Israel file. I have rubbed my eyes a few times, but there they are: Canadian political leaders at the podium, wearing the gold medal for courage, integrity, and good judgment, and for this brief, shining moment at least, history is playing the Canadian national anthem.
(Barbara Kay is a weekly columnist in the comment pages of the National Post.)
LET’S HAVE A REAL APARTHEID EDUCATION WEEK
Alan M. Dershowitz
FrontPage Blog, March 5, 2010
Every year at about this time, radical Islamic students—aided by radical anti-Israel professors—hold an event they call “Israel Apartheid Week.” During this week, they try to persuade students on campuses around the world to demonize Israel as an apartheid regime. Most students seem to ignore the rantings of these extremists, but some naïve students seem to take them seriously. Some pro-Israel and Jewish students claim that they are intimidated when they try to respond to these untruths. As one who strongly opposes any censorship, my solution is to fight bad speech with good speech, lies with truth and educational malpractice with real education.
Accordingly, I support a “Middle East Apartheid Education Week” to be held at universities throughout the world. It would be based on the universally accepted human rights principle of “the worst first.” In other words, the worst forms of apartheid being practiced by Middle East nations and entities would be studied and exposed first. Then the apartheid practices of other countries would be studied in order of their seriousness and impact on vulnerable minorities.
Under this principle, the first country studied would be Saudi Arabia. That tyrannical kingdom practices gender apartheid to an extreme, relegating women to an extremely low status. Indeed, a prominent Saudi Imam recently issued a fatwa declaring that anyone who advocates women working alongside men or otherwise compromises with absolute gender apartheid is subject to execution. The Saudis also practice apartheid based on sexual orientation, executing and imprisoning gay and lesbian Saudis. Finally, Saudi Arabia openly practices religious apartheid. It has special roads for “Muslims only.” It discriminates against Christians, refusing them the right to practice their religion openly. And needless to say, it doesn’t allow Jews the right to live in Saudi Arabia, to own property or even (with limited exceptions) to enter the country. Now that’s apartheid with a vengeance.
The second entity on any apartheid list would be Hamas, which is the de facto government of the Gaza Strip. Hamas too discriminates openly against women, gays, Christians. It permits no dissent, no free speech, and no freedom of religion.
Every single Middle East country practices these forms of apartheid to one degree or another. Consider the most “liberal” and pro-American nation in the area, namely Jordan. The Kingdom of Jordan, which the King himself admits is not a democracy, has a law on its books forbidding Jews from becoming citizens or owning land. Despite the efforts of its progressive Queen, women are still de facto subordinate in virtually all aspects of Jordanian life. Iran, of course, practices no discrimination against gays, because its President has assured us that there are no gays in Iran. In Pakistan, Sikhs have been executed for refusing to convert to Islam, and throughout the Middle East, honor killings of women are practiced, often with a wink and a nod from the religious and secular authorities. Every Muslim country in the Middle East has a single, established religion, namely Islam, and makes no pretense of affording religious equality to members of other faiths.
That is a brief review of some, but certainly not all, apartheid practices in the Middle East. Now let’s turn to Israel. The secular Jewish state of Israel recognizes fully the rights of Christians and Muslims and prohibits any discrimination based on religion.… Muslim and Christian citizens of Israel (of which there are more than a million) have the right to vote and have elected members of the Knesset, some of whom even oppose Israel’s right to exist. There is an Arab member of the Supreme Court, an Arab member of the Cabinet and numerous Israeli Arabs in important positions in businesses, universities and the cultural life of the nation. A couple of years ago I attended a concert at the Jerusalem YMCA at which Daniel Barrenboim conducted a mixed orchestra of Israeli and Palestinian musicians. There was a mixed audience of Israelis and Palestinians, and the man sitting next to me was an Israeli Arab, who is the culture minister of the State of Israel. Can anyone imagine that kind of concert having taking place in apartheid South Africa, or in apartheid Saudi Arabia?…
Israel is a vibrant democracy. “[Applying the word “Apartheid” to Israel] does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong.” The current “Israel Apartheid Week” on universities around the world, by focusing only on the imperfections of the Middle East’s sole democracy, is carefully designed to cover up far more serious problems of real apartheid in Arab and Muslim nations. The question is why do so many students identify with regimes that denigrate women, gays, non-Muslims, dissenters, environmentalists and human rights advocates, while demonizing a democratic regime that grants equal rights to women (the chief justice and speaker of the Parliament of Israel are women), gays (there are openly gay generals in the Israeli Army), non-Jews (Muslims and Christians serve in high positions in Israel) and dissenters, (virtually all Israelis dissent about something).
Israel…has sacrificed more for peace than any country in the Middle East. Yet on many college campuses democratic, egalitarian Israel is a pariah, while sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, terrorist Hamas is a champion. There is something very wrong with this picture.
THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO—
THE INSTITUTION WHERE ISRAEL APARTHEID WEEK WAS BORN
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, December 2008
…Israel Apartheid Week’s (IAW) origins can be traced back to the University of Toronto (U of T) in 2004, when student groups sympathetic to the Palestinian cause sought to delegitimize the democratic State of Israel. By early 2005, the university’s Arab Students Collective (ASC) had initiated its first annual event. Authorized by the University of Toronto administration, IAW has since developed into an annual international occurrence targeting Israel and Zionists with malevolent and grossly misrepresentative accusations. The ASC has been joined by a variety of planning partners, including the Coalition Against Israel Apartheid, and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights.
As the chief mouthpiece for anti-Zionism in the university world, the organizers of IAW seek to shape the opinions of future leaders of Western society and industry by distributing information which portrays Israel as an undemocratic state that tramples on the rights of its own citizens and disrupts the lives of its neighbors. Israel is presented as an illegal occupier of land, and a failed experiment in Jewish nationhood which must be terminated. The organizers strive to encourage a global campaign of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against the Jewish state.
The University’s Stance
The University of Toronto’s early and largely unchanged approach to IAW can be found in the Vice-Provost’s Students’ Report (2004-05), as presented to the University Affairs Board. The key statement in the article upholds IAW’s right to operate on campus:
Upon review of the group’s plans, the administration determined that it had no reason to believe that the events would exceed the boundaries for free speech as articulated in the Statement on Freedom of Speechand other relevant University policies.… The ability to question, examine and comment on issues of the day, even when such commentary may be repugnant to some, is central to the mission of the University.…
In a more recent pronouncement regarding freedom of speech on campus, University [of Toronto] President David Naylor addressed the issue in February 2006, when a statement was published on the President’s website a week before that year’s IAW events. He reiterated that “the university is very deeply committed to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.…”
[However], in a statement released one month [after the 2006 IAW], President Naylor…[somewhat revised his position], adding that [IAW had caused] situations in which individuals [were] targeted on the basis of their identity, [and] though not qualifying as an actual hate crime, [the incidents had] caused the university “grave concern.…”
The Inadequacy of the Organized Jewish Community’s Response
The response of the organized Toronto Jewish community was and continues to be inadequate.… Shaun Hoffman, a former Vice-President and Israel Affairs chair at Hillel at the U of T (2006-07)…[claims] that “there was much pressure placed on the students and staff of Hillel by the Jewish community to successfully combat IAW, though assistance from community organizations was either of no help, or not coming at all.”
This stands in stark contrast to the organization and teamwork of the twenty-five groups that organized IAW at Toronto universities in 2008 (including the University of Toronto, York University and Ryerson University).… [More worrisome, is the fact that] some organizations that consider themselves Zionist do not approach IAW with any desire to counter it at all.
[For example], Hillel at the University of Toronto has a key influence on Jewish campus life. [However], the local Jewish Federation, United Jewish Appeal (UJA), which is the principal financial benefactor of Hillel, [only] permits a non-confrontational non-approach to the annual event. [Accordingly], Hillel does not actively respond to accusations against Israel, or to the protests on campus. Instead, the campus group creates feel-good programming about Israel which, while obviously important, does not directly address the dissemination of misinformation on campus which directly target Israel.…
As a Jewish campus group, Hillel at the University of Toronto puts a considerable amount of money into funding educational programs about Israel. Students can take part in seminars and Israel advocacy training. Yet this training has not been put into action against IAW with official Hillel approval. Hoffman reasons that: “Hillel, the organization which is best equipped to offer a decisive response to IAW in terms of resources and manpower, is ultimately handcuffed by a pluralistic maxim inextricably linked to the organization. The result is a type of super-soft advocacy that offers no real counter to the allegations leveled during IAW.…”
Hillel at the University of Toronto operates under the umbrella of Hillel of Greater Toronto, a non-profit organization run by non-student staff that influences and shapes programming in individual Toronto Hillel chapters. In the past, Hillel student leaders have had to alter their response to IAW to fall in line with the philosophy of the parent organization. This is a common occurrence in North America: philanthropy fuelled Jewish communal non-profit organizations have their say on the type of programming offered by their student group beneficiaries.
The University’s Failure
…The University claims that it monitors all IAW events in order to ensure compliance with university policies. One example of this policy is the aforementioned Statement on Freedom of Speech. It declares that “the values of mutual respect and civility may, on occasion, be superseded by the need to protect lawful freedom of speech.…” [However], lawful freedom of speech was [likely] violated in 2005 when…a mock refugee camp constructed in [U of T’s] Sydney Smith Hall foyer was adorned with [lifelike Arabic recruitment] posters calling on camp residents to support or join the terror group Islamic Jihad. This group was banned by the government of Canada in November of 2002, [and] according to Canada’s criminal code…it is an offence to engage in an activity for the benefit of a terrorist group.…
When President David Naylor of U of T was pushed…to respond to [this]…he wrote that “The University does not sponsor, organize, or even implicitly endorse these events.…” Writing in the National Post newspaper, George Jonas remarked, “So U of T only provides a roof and a postal code for a blatantly racist event.… It’s just that U of T doesn’t sponsor it.…”
Israel Apartheid Week has now become a regular event at the University of Toronto. Jewish students know it is [March] when flyers featuring abrasive illustrations appear all over campus advertising a bevy of anti-Israel demonstrations.… Even though speakers on campus deny Israel its right to exist and accusations of genocide and ethnic cleansing are tossed about, the University of Toronto continues to give the organizers a venue and thereby a platform for this continued abuse of freedom of speech.
This is likely to be a sore point in years to come, when the university looks back and wonders how it could have misjudged so badly. This is the case now when…the administration remembers the [U of T] medical school’s Jewish quota system which was enforced until the 1960s. Eventually the permissive approach to Israel Apartheid Week will stand as another example of a failed policy within the University’s history—a failure which launched a hate event that has since spread to campuses worldwide.…