Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Israeli Apartheid" Week


Every March, extremists converge on campuses across the country. For a week or two, they strive to sow divisions, encourage prejudice, and incite hostility.

They come as part of "Israeli Apartheid Week," a series of lectures, exhibits and events that single out Israel for fierce attack. Students are told the Jewish state is, by nature, a racist, colonial and oppressive state. They are told Israel should be boycotted, and even destroyed. They are told this by ideologues who distort facts about Israel while ignoring genuine oppression in the Middle East and across the world. One need look no further than the event's title to understand its malignant nature. The canard that Israel is an apartheid state is an assault on the country's very legitimacy. South Africa's racist, apartheid regime was rightfully dismantled, and this campaign seeks absurdly to cast Israel — the Middle East's most progressive state and only liberal democracy — as being guilty of similar policies and equally deserving to be dismantled.

Apartheid Week is an affront to Palestinian and Israel moderates who seek to reach peace through compromise and mutual recognition. It opposes equality and tolerance by seeking to do away with the Jewish people's right to self-determination. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that Israel, which he described as "one of great outposts of democracy in the world", has an "incontestable" right to exist. Apartheid Week's push against King's truth can only impede the dream of peace and justice in the Middle East.

Information available at this site includes such topics as:

xtremists and Their Message

In the contentious debate about the Middle East conflict, there are many voices. Among the most intolerant and hateful is the viewpoint promoted by "Israeli Apartheid Week."

The extremism of the Apartheid Week organizers can be better understood when looking at some of the speakers from past Apartheid Weeks.

Omar Barghouti, a featured speaker during Apartheid Week 2009, doesn't bother to hide that his goal is to rewind history by returning the Jewish people to the dark era in which being a Jew meant being an ethnic minority. With chilling frankness, Barghouti admits that he seeks to replace Israel with what he describes as "a unitary state, where, by definition, Jews will be a minority."

Not only is this immoral goal is opposed by those who would be most harmed (Jews), but it also runs counter to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the international community, and human rights leaders. (See more here.)
Palestinian writer and outspoken critic of the anti-Israel boycott movement Samir el-Youssef Samir El-Youssef

Samir El-youssef, a Palestinian writer who criticizes both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict and genuinely seeks reconciliation, says that Barghouti's calls to boycott Israel are "full of questionable assumptions, biased assertions, reductive and dismissive statements, condemnations and accusations against those who disagree with him." Barghouti has "other concerns than peace on his mind," he adds.

Norman Finkelstein was another extremist participant from Apartheid Week 2009. Just before his scheduled lectures on campuses in New York City and Atlanta, the Teheran Times published a venemous interview with Finkelstein in which he called Israel a "vandal state," an "insane state," a "lunatic state" and a "terrorist state." And those were the nicer things he had to say about the country. He also referred to the Jewish state as a "satanic state" from "the boils of hell" which "is committing a holocaust in Gaza." While he directs such venom toward Israel, Finkelstein has expressed support for Hezbollah, a violent, racist group listed by European and North American countries as a terror organziation, in part because of its numerous attacks on Americans and its deadly bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina. (Hezbollah leaders have explained that they seek to destroy Israel, force most Jews out of Israel, and [not unlike Barghouti] relegate the remaining few to minority status.)
Not to be outdone in the hate department is Apartheid Week 2009 speaker Ronnie Kasrils, who has argued that Israelis are "baby killers" that "behav[e] like Nazis."

It's disturbing that these statements by Barghouti, Finkelstein and Kasrils each match items in the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia's list of "examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel." That list includes:

* "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor)";
* "Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation"; and
"Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis."

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