It’s Israeli Apartheid Week again. Pick your villain.

IAW activists hate Israel more than they hate oppression itself

by Emma Teitel

It’s ‘apartheid’ time again. Pick your villain.

Daniel Etter/Redux

March is upon us, which means the Oscars have been awarded, and that other harbinger of spring is around the corner: Israeli Apartheid Week. Ordinarily, both events are masterpieces of predictability, with the Academy Awards ushering the usual suspects to the podium (Meryl Streep anyone?), and Israeli Apartheid Week featuring the usual anti-Zionist suspects on megaphones (among them the now famous IAW sub-group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, which I’d argue is largely composed of gay Jewish girls who didn’t have fun at summer camp.) This year the Oscars have come through in predictability, but Israeli Apartheid Week is shaping up quite differently. It’s traditional at Passover seders for the youngest member of Jewish families to ask the “four questions,” which inquire why “this night is different from all other nights.” This year it might be prudent to ask a fifth: why is this Israeli Apartheid Week different from all the others?

The answer is just northeast of Israel, in Syria. In the past 11 months, almost 9,000 civilian protesters and nearly 3,000 anti-government rebels have been murdered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Ba’ath party dictatorship. Approximately 400 children have been imprisoned and tortured. Meanwhile, Assad’s government claims that 89.4 per cent of Syrians had approved a new constitution that could keep Bashar in power for another 16 years, along with the 12 years he’s already ruled, and the 29 years his father Hafez held power before him. You’d think that anyone committed to the cause of justice in the Middle East would put the atrocities in Syria at the top of their to-do list. But the Canadian organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week—loudly devoted to ending oppression and achieving social justice for all—won’t be talking about Syria this year. Instead, they’ll spend March 5-9 railing exclusively against the “Zionist regime” at a university campus near you. Events will include slam poetry renditions, hip-hop shows, and an apartheid poster contest with a top prize of $400.

You could accurately call this tunnel vision activism. Most hopes for mainstream credibility IAW activists might have in their criticism of Israel tends to be destroyed by their singular abhorrence of the Jewish state. No country deserves a free pass because its crimes don’t add up to its neighbour’s, but to boycott one injustice and ignore the far bloodier one next door isn’t just odd: it’s a clear statement that those at the helm of Israeli Apartheid Week hate Israel more than they hate oppression itself.

This is a reality noted by even the anti-Zionist darling and American intellectual Norman Finkelstein, in an interview at Imperial College this month. Finkelstein, who has long been a supporter of the BDS movement, named for its focus on punishing Israel through boycotts, divestments, and sanctions, now claims, scathingly, that the BDS is doomed to irrelevancy by its gross “disingenuousness” on the subject of whether or not Israel should exist to begin with. “I support the BDS,” he says, “[but] their goal has to include the recognition of Israel, or it’s a non-starter.” Finkelstein is right. If you want to uproot a country’s policies, you should make it explicitly clear that you don’t want to uproot the country itself. Unless, of course, you do.

That the folks behind Israeli Apartheid Week wouldn’t mind if the country disappeared is evident in their blasé response to terrorism against Israelis. The movement’s promotional video features a series of cartoon slides about the conflict, one of which reads: “When a people fight the occupier / It is not terrorism / It is resistance.” But there is nothing noble or necessary about blowing up innocent civilians at a falafel stand. Such terrorism is not resistance. It’s murder—something IAW leaders have accused Israel of time and time again.

Hypocrisy aside, the movement’s reluctance to recognize the Jewish state’s right to exist (they claim to be “agnostic” about Israel’s existence), coupled with its failure to stand up for any other oppressed or occupied peoples, is an open invitation for Jews to cry anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, anti-Zionists argue, but Israel’s unique distinction in their ideology as the very worst place in the entire world has most Jews begging to differ. In my final year of university, a friend of mine—who we’ll call Sandy Cohen—wanted to organize a non-aligned event to run alongside Israeli Apartheid Week, to educate uninformed students about the conflict from a neutral standpoint. Organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week were less than pleased with the idea—they were having a party, and she was trying to crash it. One organizer even compared her to a Nazi and claimed that, like “all Zionists,” she had a knack for “twisting her words.” Not once did Cohen declare herself a Zionist. The only thing her detractor knew about her was her name—which is, undeniably, Jewish.

If all people who criticized Israel were anti-Semites, I’d be an anti-Semite. But it’s this kind of nastiness and hypocrisy that makes you wonder if the week isn’t an indictment of so-called Israeli apartheid, but rather a morbid celebration of a problem none of the protesters really wants solved. Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston argues that peace isn’t the product of “freedom for one people at the expense of another, but freedom and independence for both.” Until the Israeli Apartheid Movement acknowledges this, it will remain nothing more than a thinly veiled anti-Semitic frosh week for the far, far left.




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It’s Israeli Apartheid Week again. Pick your villain.

  1. You don’t have to go outside of Israel’s borders to see hypocritical attitudes toward opression on the part of a lot of these folks. The Palestinian Authority executes homosexuals, and could hardly be called progressive on issues of women’s rights. I find it really bizarre that Palestinian liberation has become such a cause celebre – it is a classic case of national liberation conflicting with individual liberty.

    My own blase support for a two-state solution was challenged by the views of a group called Al Auda (sp?). They spoke as part of a campus debate on whether campus groups should be able to hold closed meetings. Because some of their number are gay, and didn’t want to be outed they quite reasonably argued for closed meetings. They support a one-state solution, in which Palestinians are treated similarly to Israeli Arabs – ie. granted full rights of citizenship in a single state, avoiding the death sentence that life in a free Palestine (or even the status quo) would represent.

    A two-state solution won’t solve anything – Palestine will still be economically dependent on Israel, Israeli force will still be necessary to stop Hamas terrorism and many Palestinians will still work in Israel. So as much as many Jewish Israelis dislike the demographic implications of a one-state solution, it is by far the most just, and the best basis for a lasting peace. Of course, the longer we wait, the more demographically difficult such a solution becomes.

    Nations are no more natural a repository for rights than any other arbitrary grouping of people. Real liberty is individual liberty, which is why I look at the champions of Palestinian liberation with incredulity. Are they fighting for a scenario that will be good for minorities in Palestine? For women? For homosexuals? For those without strong connections to Hamas or Fatah? Or at least, to paraphrase our own national unity debate, if Israel is divisible, is not Palestine also?

  2. Israel is a criminal state.   The Likud Charter (Netanyahu’s party) denies the right of the Palestinian state to exist.  The Foriegn Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, promotes a “peace plan” that ethnically cleanses arab Israelis from Israel.  Shall we talk about the Dayiha Doctrine? 

    Israel does not deserve Canadian support until it learns adhere to international legal principles.  The writer excuses every Israeli action, and then condemns those principled enough to fight for universal human rights.

    • Apparently J-Ben didn’t actually read the article. Like IAW’s assault on Sandy Cohen, a cogent reflection of the facts seem to be beyond this lefty terror supporter.

  3. “But, but, Syria is much worse on a scale of 10!”
    -Zionism’s sole argument.

    •  ..except that, when all Palestinian casualities, 1950-2010, are taken as a whole, Israel is much worse than Syria, much much worse.

      • I wonder where are facts to support this. Like all Anti-Israel pseudo-intellectuals, you have none.

        • http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/deaths.html

          Here is your breakdown. Palestinians have virtually no army, you would think it would have been worse. It just goes to show you that Isreal is still weak even when they are 1000x more powerful then their enemy. lol…

          • This comment was deleted.

          • What you call weak, I call restraint.

            The very fact that Palestinians are still around claiming to be the victims of apartheid by monstrous Israel is proof that Israel is not monstrous.

            If the Israelis wanted to they could have turned Gaza into powder long ago, but the didn’t.  They could have easily killed millions of Palestinians and done more damage to Hamas if they just carpet bombed the place rather than use surgical strikes, same is true for all Palestinians.

            Imagine for a moment that the balance of power were reversed, and the Palestinians had the military capabilities of the Israelis.  Do you honestly think any Muslim would be fighting and existential battle for decades, when they have the ability to  simply obliterate their in a hell storm of bombs and missles?

            If you do, then you don’t know a thing about the precious Palestinian darlings, and their Muslim friends, as you lovingly think you do.

            So, let me talk to you about a bridge.

      •  ”when all Palestinian casualities, 1950-2010, are taken as a whole, Israel is much worse”

        Your argument is of course illiogical but over the past 80 years the death total between Israel (& pre-Israel) and Arabs is around 100k. That includes the major wars and averages out to about 1,250 a year.  100k is the death toll in just a few months in any number of places that the UN makes no fuss over.

        • Scrutineer is wildly mistaken, and even the 100k death toll  that Brzezinki provides is somewhat inflated. 

          Since 1948, some 62,000 people (40,000 Arabs, 22,000 Jews) have been killed in all the Israeli-Arab wars, intifadahs, and Palestinian terror attacks. Most of the Arab fatalities occurred during various Israeli-Arab wars. The number of Palestinian Arabs who have been killed since the first intifadah is less than 10,000.

          To be sure, this loss of life was tragic, but it hardly qualifies as a genocide, as one sometimes hears from Israel’s detractors. In fact, these numbers are quite small compared to the number of Arabs killed in wars and terror attacks at the hands of other Arabs during the same period: E.g., in Lebanon, 150,000 dead in the civil war between 1975 and 1990; in Algeria 200,000 dead in the Islamists’ war against their own people between 1999 and 2006; in Somalia, 400,000 and counting.  

      • No, it is because Syria is a Muslim country that the Left ignore it so.  For all the talk of peace, tolerance, and respect for human rights, the activities and concerns of the Left are so parochial.

        Only Western countries like America earn your ire, and only the Jewish state of Israel can get your blood boiling, because these are the politically correct enemies that must be destroyed.

        Israel apparently must fight for its existence against genocidal enemies using the power of love, and flowers.  Anything else would be mass slaughter.

        It is the racism of low expectation.  For all the talk of how wonderful Muslims are from the Leftist talking heads, you inevitably treat them like savages devoid of any moral agency or personal responsibility.
         
        Anything horrendous Muslims do is always the fault of the Israelis, or the Americans, or evil Danish cartoonists.

        I’m sure when Palestinians slaughtered the sleeping Fogel family, including children and a 3-month old baby, that those deaths were praised and advocated for.

        in contrast if an Israeli so much as belches in front of a Palestinian, that is enough to stoke a month of non-stop protests.  

  4. it’s all bad :(

  5. “No country deserves a free pass because its crimes don’t add up to its neighbour’s, but to boycott one injustice and ignore the far bloodier one next door isn’t just odd:”

    —————-

    Where then is your condemnation of Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman and Kuwait? Oh wait, I forgot, they’re buddies of the US.

    • You’re really grasping at straws, here.

  6. I’m not sure where this idea that people need to acknowledge Israel’s “right to exist” comes from. Countries don’t have guaranteed rights, to their existence or to anything else. Israel does not have the right to exist any more than Canada, Paraguay, or the Sudan do. The people who live within a country have fundamental rights, including the rights to life, to freedom from oppression, to have a voice in their government. But the political entity, the state, does not have such rights. What would such a thing even mean? Did the Soviet Union have the right to exist? Was some sovereign right violated when Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic and Slovakia? States change borders, governments, and names all the time; they split apart and join together. Why should Israel be granted a special right that we do not grant to any country–not even our own?

    • Agreed. I never understood the whole “Right to exist” rhetoric. Did Nazi Germany have a right to exist? Libya? Saddm’s Iraq? Does Syria have a right to exist? Seems a lot of people say no these days and that intervention is necessary.

      • SuperMENSA. The reason “Right to exist” comes up is because Israel is the only country (I know of)  which is constantly told it does NOT have a right to exist.  It therefore is necessary to mount a defence against this bizarre charge.

        It is also in modern terms, probably the most legally instituted country. There are three basic reasons:
        Jewish history in the region.
        The Zionists bought land in the area for Jewish use.
        The League of Nations in 1922 issued the Mandate for Palestine granting Jews rights to live anywhere in the region and naming it the Jewish National Home. (All this talk of kicking Jews out of Gaza, Jerusalem etc is against international law.)

      • And yet your entire reason for posting here revolves around the belief that Palestine has a right to exist.

        • That’s not my position.

    • The Soviet and Czechoslovak cases are unique to each other and to Israel.

      The USSR was a somewhat loose confederation made up of many semi-independent republics. The confederation broke up voluntarily as a result of internal political forces.

      The Czechs and the Slovaks were two ethnic groups mashed together in the post-WWI breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They separated amicably after the end of the Cold War, again as a result of internal political forces.

      Israel is a democratic state which the majority of its population wishes to remain in existence. Those who would deny the right of Israel to exist are external actors from other states. Most of the Arab world denies the right of Israel to exist and many, including most Palestinians, would gladly dismantle the State of Israel if they had the power to do so.

      No external actors forced the USSR or Czechoslovakian states to breakup. Some in the international community would force Israel to cease existing if given the chance.  Big difference. No other state on earth faces such an existential threat. Advocating a two-state solution is one thing: denying the right of Israel to be a state is entirely something else.

  7. I think the one major fact that the author omits is that Israel receives loads of US and German (and other…) money to keep it afloat. It is politically bound to the West and we by association (and dollars) support their actions. People are protesting them because they are connected to us.

    …the same cannot be said of Syria, who we (the west) are on the brink of military conflict with.

    • Israel does receive aid from the US (as does Egypt and Jordan). Almost all U.S. aid to Israel is now in the form of military assistance. Israel does not receive financial from Germany or any other country.

      West Germany did agree to pay reparations to Israel for German atrocities against the Jews in WWII, but these payments ended more than 40 years ago. Germany currently pays reparations to Holocaust survivors, many of whom live in Israel, but that hardly counts as financial aid to Israel.

      The EU and countries in Europe provide considerable financial aid to the Palestinians (as in they keep the PA afloat). Why is it that we are not protesting them? (Would you like a list of human rights violations perpetrated by the PA?) 

  8. I’m sorry, but Israel isn’t an apartheid state at all. I’m an Israeli myself. I remember the days when my parents didn’t allow me to ride on buses, go to malls or enter discos with the fear that I would never return. Israeli-Arabs have full rights in Israel, and I myself have no problem with them apart from the fact that most of them smoke, and I don’t like smoking (though that could be said on many Israelis, so…). I agree that the Israeli government could have acted differently and better in some situations, but every person makes mistakes. An apartheid state is a state where the rulers are a minority and are discriminating the majority harshly. In Israel, 80% of the population are Jewish and only 20% are minorities (Bedouin, Christians, Arab-Israeli, etc…). And as I mentioned, Arab-Israelis have full legal and social rights, and by the constitution are equal to any Jew. The Palestinian Authority will be economically and socially destroyed without the aid brought in by Israel. Terrorist groups have over 50,000 missiles aimed at Israeli civilians – a horrible figure we do not wish to rise even further – the reason for the strict policy on external aid to the Gaza strip. The reality here is that we have less than 15 seconds to drop what we’re doing – whether it’s playing, working, sleeping or eating and run for our lives to the nearest shelter. In 15 seconds I can barely reach and unlock the front door of our house (it’s locked so my dog doesn’t run away). I am personally sorry that we do not have peace with the Palestinians, but they are for blame as much as us. If both sides would agree to sit down and make a mutual agreement that everyone benefits from – that would be amazing.

    • @f219dd80e74892b59f485c01dfc377c8:disqus FYI, Israel has more technological start-ups than any place in the world outside the silicon
      valley. Intel chips are manufactured in Israel, the mobile phone was
      invented in Israel, popular apps “Waze” and “Viber” were created in
      Israel, Instant Messaging, was invented in Israel, and the Disc-On-Key
      was Invented in Israel. Have you heard about the pill-cam? It’s a pill
      with a camera that you swallow painlessly and it films your inside. It comes instead of pushing a tube with a microscope inside ones body – a process that could even kill in the event of vein expansion (common in alcoholics). Oh and Better Place, the electric car, is Israeli. Microsoft XBOX Kinect was developed
      in Israel, and Google + was also developed in Israel. Cisco has a large
      factory here as well, HP’s first R&D facility outside of the US is
      in Israel. Israel has more Scientific and Medical Papers, PhD’s and Start-Ups per-person than anywhere else in the world. The new wing of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art has been awarded “Best Museum of 2012″ by the Travel and Leisure Magazine. Please come to me, look me in the eyes and tell me that Israel has nothing to offer the world.

    •  ”Israel isn’t an apartheid state”

      Oh yeah? How come Arabs don’t have to go to the army? Special laws single them out. Yes I know it’s demanded by their leadership but still ……

      • Israel is not an apartheid state; in fact, it is the only apartheid free state in the Middle East. The Arab minority enjoys full equality before the law. It also enjoys more “reasonable accommodation”  than most ethnic minorities in the West: Arabic is an official language; non-Jewish religious holidays are recognized as legal days of rest.

        The fact that Arabs are not conscripted to serve in the army hardly counts as an indication of apartheid. Arabs can, and do, serve in the IDF; in fact, they can, and do, serve as officers.

  9. These wieners can whine all they like. Israel was attacked. Israel defeated every state that surrounds it. Israel will exist long after these losers have died, poor, bitter and ignored.

  10. I’m sorry, but I don’t get the point. Is the author suggesting that because a neighboring country is an evil tyranny we should overlook the evil tyranny that the US supports with tax dollars and military support?

    The way I see it, if a country wants to call themselves a Western democracy, they shouldn’t be a tyranny. If they want to practice apartheid and ethnic cleansing, fine. Just don’t ask us to pay for it or support it in any way.

    If Israel wants to steal Palestine, steal it. But leave America out of it. The Jews have been trying to take and hold that area since the Bronze Age. It’s not America’s fight.

  11. What a pile of rubbish.  Standard practice for the pro-Israel propoganda machine — divert attention — look a squirrel.  It must be from Syria. Last year it was Sudan. Or wherever. Why do these people always pick on Israel?

    I think this writer would be hard pressed to come up with any evidence that IAW organizers refuse to recognize Isreael’s “right-to-exist” except in a context of it’s present day apartheid state. But there is ample evidence that certain countries, like Canada, refuse to recognize the right-to-exist for a Palestinian state.

    “But there is nothing noble or necessary about blowing up innocent civilians at a falafel stand.”

    Ah yes, the old suicide bomber canard.  I think the last one in Israel was about 6 years ago. But lets keep bringing that up and  çomplely forget about the 2010 Gaza massacre (1400 killed, 30% of them children) or the high-seas murder on the Gaza Flotilla or the fact that Palestinian chlidren are imprisoned for months for throwing rocks at Israeli settlers armed with assault rifles.

    Too much cognitive dissonance for you Emma?

  12. Yawn.  More “you’re a hypocrite for picking on us when that guy is acting worse” crap.  So Emma, if I understand you correctly, nobody should fight against any injustice unless we collectively deem it to be the worst injustice on the planet at this given moment?  Everyone should give up fighting for the environment?  Against the robocall scandal?  In favour of Tibetans’ rights?  all until Syria is fixed?

    Here’s a hint:  If you can’t defend Israel’s actions on their merits, then they’re indefensible.  And, if their actions are indefensible, than activists are justified in fighting them.

    • The facts are quite simple.  If the Palestinians laid down arms, there would be peace tomorrow.  If the Israelis laid down arms, there would be another Holocaust tomorrow.  The Palestinians will deserve their own state the moment they stop trying to destroy Israel.  In the meantime, Israel is in the unenviable position of defending itself against people who have no qualms about using suicide bombers to murder defenceless Israeli civilians, nor about siting rocket batteries among defenceless Palestinian civilians with the express purpose of drawing forth Israeli retaliation which will inevitably cause collateral damage, despite Israel’s best efforts (e.g. sending robocalls to Palestinian cellphones warning them to evacuate targeted areas during Operation Cast Lead).  Not all critics of Israel are anti Semites by any means – Israel, like any country, makes its share of mistakes and deserves criticism for that –  but the “Israeli Apartheid” movement really does seem obsessed with demonizing Israel in a way that is hard to explain by anything other than rabid, visceral hatred of the Jews.

      • Sentences two and three sum it up quite well. They explain why fewer and fewer people are ready to listen to pro-Israel propaganda, and excuse the actions of the region’s largest and only nuclear-armed military power.

  13. Once again, any legitimate attempt to hold the Government of Israel responsible for it’s abhorrent treatment of the Palestinian people is declared nothing but “anti-semitism.”  And even the right to discuss the issues at the heart of the Israeli apartheid is deemed wrong.  The Palestinians seem to be the only group of people with no basic rights.  It is very sad.

  14. I’m sure Emma, and those who support this general argument that there are worse things going on outside Israel/Palestine, are at the forefront of human rights campaigning for these countries outside Israel/Palestine.

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