'Odious' Israeli Apartheid Week condemned - Macleans.ca

‘Odious’ Israeli Apartheid Week condemned

Yearly campus event denounced by politicians as a ruse for racism


Israeli Apartheid Week, held annually on university campuses around the world, has always provoked a strong reaction and this year Canada’s politicians are denouncing the event that began Monday. Later this week, Edmonton Conservative MP Tim Uppal will put forward a motion calling on the House of Commons to unanimously recognize that Israeli Apartheid Week is a  ruse for anti-Semitism.

The proposed motion reads: “That this House considers itself to be a friend of the State of Israel; that this House is concerned about expressions of anti-Semitism under the guise of “Israeli Apartheid Week”; and that this House explicitly condemns any action in Canada as well as internationally that would equate the State of Israel with the rejected and racist policy of apartheid.”

A similar motion was passed by the Ontario Provincial Parliament in late February, where all present members supported a motion put forward by Tory MPP Peter Shurman. Shurman told the Toronto Star that he would like to see the name changed. “Israeli Apartheid Week is not a dialogue, it’s a monologue and it is an imposition of a view by the name itself—the name is hateful, it is odious.” Similar sentiments were expressed by both Liberal and NDP members of the provincial legislature.

On Monday of this week, federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff released a statement that would seem to suggest that the Liberal party will endorse Uppal’s proposed motion. “The very premise of Israeli Apartheid Week runs counter to our shared values of mutual respect and tolerance, regardless of nationality, race or creed. It is an attempt to heighten the tensions in our communities around the tragic conflict in the Middle East,” Ignatieff said.

As for the event itself, at York University, where tensions caused by the event have often run the highest,  the Excalibur reported today that so far Israeli Apartheid Week has been civil. The Excalibur also reported that York’s president Mamdouh Shoukri encouraged students to not use the event to engage in racist behaviour. “Political activism is no excuse for racism, intimidation or hatred of any kind,” he said.


‘Odious’ Israeli Apartheid Week condemned

  1. It’s about time all our politicians condemned this outrageous nonsense. Congratulations to ALL of our politicians who are obviously much smarter than these early 20’s “know it alls” who haven’t even begun to live and pay taxes yet and have yet to figure out how the world is – and works.

  2. High time someone did something about this blight on our national consciousness – after all, it began at U of T., for which as an alumnus, I am not proud..I also beleive that one should not let today’s young students beleive that they can always get away with misrepresentation, blatant accusations and information which they have not validated – in other words scurrilous behaviour and lies.

  3. It is of utmost urgency the House of Commons condemns and put into law for Canadian universities to do away with IAW. I heartily endorse free speech, what I do not stand for is speech which de-ligimizes a country or a people who are Canada’s allies in every way. Israel Apartheid Week is based on lies, hatred, jealousy – every negative feeling you can think of. Have we not learned anything from Nazi Germany who also began his illustrious career by de-ligitmizing Jews? I am happy Michael Ignatieff came onboard and also condemned IAW verbally. I would also like to see his signature on this Bill and there should and must be a Bill condemning this odious IAW in the House.

  4. Such an outbreak of camouflaged anti-semitism in Canada, of all places? To boot, these people are illiterate: they don’t know what the word ‘apartheid’ means. I would be happy to see more politicians, on provincial and federal level, to condemn the monstrosity of Israel Apartheid Week. Kudos to those who took a determined stand. The green-black wave must be stopped at its very beginning; if it acquires momentum, we know what happens next.

    Igor Mel’čuk,
    Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
    Professor Emeritus
    University of Montreal
    POB 6128 Centre-ville
    Montreal H3C 3J7 CANADA

  5. Israel Apartheid Week promotes cultural destructiveness, the elimination of other people’s culture, cultural incapacity, the belief in the superiority of one’s culture and behavior that disempowers another’s culture and cultural blindness,acting as if the cultural differences do not matter. IAW is based on the pre sumption of entitlement, a system of oppression and a complete lack of awareness of the need to adapt.The time has come for universities to demonstrater their leadership by adopting a Cultural Proficiency approach that moves indivduals from the acceptance of diversity to transformational thinking and behavior for equity.
    Cultural Proficiency is the policies and practices at the organizational level and values, beliefs and behaviors at the indivdual level. Immediate change is required to honour and respect all cultural identities.

  6. Like many posters here, I worry about anti-Semitism hidden under the veil of anti-Israel political statements.

    But I checked out the IAW web site and from what I can see, their campaign is a political one, aimed at the specific policies of the State of Israel, not at Jews in general. Is there a hidden agenda, here? Put another way, what specific lies are being told, here. Is it merely the term “apartheid”. The word is originally Africaans and meant “apartness.” It became widely used to describe racial segregation in South Africa, but has been extended to mean any similar system of racial or cultural segregation (see OED for more). Even Jimmy Carter, who I have always thought of as a friend of Israel, uses the term apartheid in the context of Palestine.

    Now, I’m not personally convinced the word is the right one here — Israelis are in a much different situation than white South Africans were — but using the term is a statement of political opinion, not a deliberate lie or deception. What am I missing?

  7. To those who would question the nature of the IAW and its organizers, I offer Natan Sharansky’s 3D test of Anti-semitism:

    The first “D” is the test of demonization. When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel’s actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz – this is anti- Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel

    The second “D” is the test of double standards. When criticism of Israel is applied selectively; when Israel is singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers, such as China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, is ignored; when Israel’s Magen David Adom, alone among the world’s ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross – this is anti-Semitism.

    The third “D” is the test of delegitimization: when Israel’s fundamental right to exist is denied – alone among all peoples in the world – this too is anti-Semitism.

    I would suggest if we use this as a bar for the activities, events and speakers associated with Israel Apartheid Week, there is no question.

    To the Ontario and hopefully Canadian legislatures, condemnations
    without teeth are like guard-dogs without teeth. Kind of funny to look at, but otherwise pretty ineffective.

  8. This “3d test” doesn’t actually explain why criticism of Israel is, by default, anti-semitic. Surely one can critique the actions of a state without being bigoted. That list/internet chain letter you posted doesn’t seem to provide any indication at all as to why any of those things automatically prove anti-semitism, it just states them as opinons.

  9. If you look at the speakers from Israel and respected academics from different countries participating in these events, you will see that the hysterical reaction is not justified. Those who say that the term apartheid is wrong and hateful should bear in mind that Jimmy Carter who visited Israel and the occupied territories many times has called Israel an apartheid state as has Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. I think the latter two know something about apartheid.
    No one is denying Israel’s right to exist-many are calling for Palestine’s right to exist.

  10. Baiting and bashing don’t solve much. Join the Pax101 evolution on Facebook and Twitter – @Pax_101. Civil dialogue and respectful debate are the roads to the future. Peace.

  11. What is “odious” is that many of our politicians lack the courage to even have a fair, public debate on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as they are so immersed in using identity politics to garner votes. Harper and his gang have gone out of their way to smear anyone who dares criticize Israel. Ignateiff in 2002 claimed that the West Bank looked like “bantustans” but now apparently must think that the military occupation,the wall, the Israeli only roads, the hundreds of checkpoints and the Israeli only settlements and outposts don’t exist. When Israel is mentioned the competition is on for which one can claim to be the most supportive.
    Given our “official” policy and our support for the UN Resolutions and Declaration on Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the Internaional Court of Justice they have no comment on the plight of the Palestinians. It appears that they think that the Palestinians don’t exist let alone have rights.
    The very point of this week is a debate but instead those who disagree ofter resort to name-calling, smears and blaming the Palestinians.
    I for one applaud these students for their courage to stand up for the rights of the oppressed, for expanding this protest to other campuses and for not bowing to those who demonize them for exercising their right to free speech. It is clear that it will take this kind of pressure to force our cowardly politicians to respect our own “fair-minded” policy and those international institutions which we clain to support.

  12. I applaud Peter Shurman in leading the condemnation of “Israel Apartheid Week” in Ontario. It is encouraging to see this kind of condemnation of an event that is so fraught with misrepresentation and demonizing of the only true democracy in the Middle East. I am thankful that Canadian legislators are taking action to stop the hijack of the university system by an element unwilling to tell the truth.

  13. Kudos budster for your post – if anything is “obious”, it’s the Israel-can-do-wrong and Palestinian-demonization mindsets of the Canadian MSM.

    The disproportionate influence of the vile AIPAC in the US and of similar organizations in Canada have cowed politicians and the MSM to an almost unbelievable extent in their unqualified support of Israel actions and policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians.

    Additionally “odious” is the Israeli propaganda campaign to conflate criticism of Israeli actions and policies with anti-semitism. For those who are dubious about the claim of an organized campaign, I invite you to google GIYUS (Give Israel Your United Support) and Hasbara Fellowship.

  14. On Facebook, Pax101 promotes on-campus understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a refreshing way: http://www.facebook.com/pax101

    Pax101 is fronted by a cardboard robot with a peace agenda, and the publication is called The Middle East Tutorial.

    Pax couldn’t agree with this article more!

  15. Thanks Chet for your comment. You are so right about the Israeli propaganda machine and if you want to know where the Harperites get their witch-hunting material, check out NGO Monitor. You will probably have a good idea which NGO is due for a funding cut.

  16. MPP Peter Shurman
    MP Tim Uppal

    Thank you both for showing us what Canada respects.
    You bring credit to our Federal and Provincial legislatures.

    It would be good to see all of our provinces respond as well.

    This is not a political issue, it is a Canadian one.

  17. Hillel@York (Jewish student group) and the various Muslim organizations should be banned from York University, plain and simple. Too often, these students have proved that they are incapable of rational debate.

    IAW gives extremists a forum. During last year’s IAW, I was forced to walk through a “demonstration” being held in Vari Hall. The room was even split in half, with one side waving the Palestinian flags, and the Israeli flag on the other. I can not describe the hatred in the eyes of the demonstrators. I heard comments like “filthy terrorist”, “god damn Jew” and various other profanity laced nonsense being volleyed back and forth. It was heartbreaking. These students are the future to solving the conflict? The nationalism in the room was nauseating. How is this productive? What do I, the student, gain from having this on my campus? Nothing, just a loud disruption in my education (why must demonstrators always have mega-phones and drums?!?!). How does this benefit the Palestinians or the Israelis, or humanity in general? It doesn’t.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I do not understand the conflict surrounding Israel and Palestine, but I want to learn about it. After reading the IAW website, I noted that its purpose is to bring awareness and education to the situation in the Gaza Strip. It doesn’t do that. It just confuses and presents the same old partisan garbage. I want to hear academics explain the complexities of the region and the history behind the conflict in a way that I can understand it. I don’t want to hear the words “baby-killers” being thrown around. It is incredibly difficult to find an outside, unbiased perspective. Non-extremists (you know, the majority of people) are going to continue to be turned off by IAW as long as it so obviously presents a one-sided perspective.

  18. In Canada we do not condone murder. We do not allow spitting on the street.
    We do not allow discrimination in our public education system.
    We allow people into this country from everywhere to live as we live and to abide by our laws. Not to bring the laws of a foreign country that do not blend into Canadian Law. In the past perhaps some laws were unfair or needed to be amended. These have been corrected.
    We do want discussion and debate in our education system but we do not want discrimination, bigotry, racism. When the exodus of Europeans, Asians and anyone wanting to have a better life came to Canada we welcomed them. If they want the life they left, then go back and be happy.
    It is a shame on all of Canada that York University has fallen down and allowed such a mess to simmer at their institution.
    Currently there is discussion about or National Anthem. …”We stand on guard for thee”.
    Where is York U standing ?

  19. This, amongst other things, is what the IAW is trying to bring to the attention of Canadians most of whom barely know what is going on in the Occupied Territories, and most importantly how much of that is being done IN THEIR NAME:

  20. How does banging drums, waving flags and shout obscenities bring “what is going on in the Occupied Territories” to people’s attention?

  21. MikeG-

    Start your education with Prof, Steven Walt at FP and follow his links.

  22. @ Mike G: You’re here commenting, aren’t you? Well, at least, IAW got YOUR attention. And that’s good.

  23. @Gene – Yeah… great. And I’ve still learned nothing. Is it really too much to ask that IAW present itself in an academic manner when it takes place on a university campus?

    @chet – Thanks! I’ll check that out.

  24. Desmond Tutu himself called the occupation, expulsion and ethnic preference Israel exercises is tantamount to apartheid. But what does he know about apartheid.