March 1-14, 2010 is the 6th Annual Israel Apartheid Week, a “week” of events held in cities and on campuses around the world, to raise awareness of the current Palestinian situation, and support for Palestinian resistance, including a boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign modeled on the one which ultimately had such an impact on South African apartheid. Its history, philosophy, activities and aims are well described in the History section of the official site, which included the following:
The past few years have seen a sharp increase of literature and analysis that has sought to document and challenge Israeli apartheid, including reports issued by major international bodies and human rights organizations and findings published by political leaders, thinkers, academics, and activists. Many of these efforts have highlighted the role that could be played by people and governments across the world in providing solidarity with the Palestinian struggle by exerting urgent pressure on Israel to alter its current structure and practices as an apartheid state.
Prominent Palestinians, Jewish anti-Zionists, and South Africans have been at the forefront of this struggle. At the same time, an international divestment campaign has gained momentum in response to a statement issued in July 2005 by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations calling for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) against apartheid Israel. Important gains have recently been made in this campaign in countries like South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
As well as the official site for Israel Apartheid Week 2010, this official trailer gives an idea of the why, and the what.The aim of IAW is to contribute to this chorus of international opposition to Israeli apartheid and to bolster support for the BDS campaign in accordance with the demands outlined in the July 2005 Statement: full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands – including the Golan Heights, the Occupied West Bank with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – and dismantling the Wall, and the protection of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in U.N. resolution 194.
The Toronto trailer features a good rapid historical overview, and, among others, Jewish Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein expressing her support for Israel Apartheid Week and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
The term apartheid is being used purposefully and more frequently in reference to the occupation of the West Bank, the circumscription of Gaza, and the differential status of Israeli Arab citizens based on religion and ethnicity. Another term that occurs is bantustanization, in reference to the impact of the Wall (see also the Stop the Wall campaign) which increasingly surrounds the West Bank, and the walls within the West Bank which, along with check points and superhighways reserved for Israelis only, have created a series of “bantustans” or islands of Palestinian people fully contained and controlled by Israel.
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) [or BDP] supports Israel Apartheid Week and announced that for the first time this year Gaza City would be one of the cities participating. They situate the Israel/Palestine situation as firmly within the colonial power/ colonized dynamic, as well as within the particular approach to empire, colonization and occupation that was South African Apartheid.
The demands/goals of the campaign are clear from the Media Section of the website:
The 6th annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) will take place March 1 – March 14th in various cities across the globe. IAW will feature lectures, film screenings, cultural activities, and demonstrations aimed at raising awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies toward Palestinians and to gather support for the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The demands of the BDS campaign are:
1. Ending Israel's occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
For further information visit city specific media sections on the front page of www.apartheidweek.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jenin Refugee Camp
Of the 40+ cities/campuses participating this year, 13 are Canadian. The major cities and campuses are represented, the modest-sized ones, and the smaller ones as well, from coast to coast, Halifax to Vancouver, and many points in between, including (east to west) Fredericton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and a number of lesser known ones. This is perhaps fitting as IAW was first launched in Toronto in 2005. Other cities internationally include major ones throughout the world--Amsterdam, Beirut, Capetown, Edinburgh, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, New York, Oxford, Rome, San Francisco; and historic ones--Al Quds (University), Bethlehem, Berkeley, Durbin, Gaza, Jenin (refugee camp), Utrecht, as well as lesser known ones.
Interestingly, no Gulf countries, nor Saudi Arabia is participating, which makes me wonder why not. Perhaps some reader will enlighten me. All I am coming up with is a general dislike of political rallies, arts fora, and activism; and, a preference for not mentioning Israel at all. However, these are speculative. Please feel free to inform, correct, or otherwise comment on this absence.
Israelis Fight Fire with Fire over Apartheid Week", in the English version of Israel's Haaretz newspaper.
Needless to say there are debates, including in Canada, about whether such an appellation “Apartheid” should be used in reference to Israel, whether the Occupation is justified on self-defence grounds, how other Arab countries have behaved toward Palestine, and whether Israel is being unfairly targeted. As one Jewish Canadian student, a campus organizer for Israel Apartheid Week, said in a debate with the head of B’nai Brith Canada on the CBC, “Those supporting the week are called anti-Semitic, and those like myself who are Jewish, are called self-loathing Jews”. I would add that some Jewish psychiatrists call them patients who have internalized hatred against Jews; the psychoanalysts use the term “introjection”. A critique of Israel Apartheid Week is include in the good overview of it on Wikipedia, here.
In any case, as the Jewish Canadian student remarked, those who support IAW and BDS do so believing that it will ultimately be best for both Israel and Palestine.
The debates, discussions, or comments I was interested in here revolve around the following themes in relation to Israel Apartheid Week and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign:
-the use of the term apartheid, its relevance, and impact;
-the effectiveness and appropriateness of the strategy of the BDS campaign;
-whether the boycott of Israel academics and universities should be included in the BDS campaign
-what avenues of dialogue should be kept open
-the desirability and feasibility, or not, of each of the 3 goals of the BDS campaign: ending occupation and dismantling the Wall; full equality of Israeli Arabs with other citizens; the right of return following UN Resolution 194
-the value or harm of Israel Apartheid Week;
-other dimensions readers may feel are relevant.
2 aspects will be addressed in future posts over the course of the next 2 weeks: 1) the role of the USA; 2) the role of the Israeli Lobby in the USA. Comments about those particular aspects may be reserved until then.
I would be very interested in a dialogue among regular commentators, readers, blurkers, as well as the “irregulars”, and the new. While I recognize that this is an emotional and challenging topic, I expect everyone to be as on topic and respectful even in disagreement as they have been to date. As per the commenting policy in the Page “Commenting” just below the banner, all are welcome to comment, and to share their diverse views, though no personal attacks against another commentator or hate speech against any group is welcomed.
If anyone prefers, they may comment anonymously, using the Anonymous option. However, for the purpose of following a given commentator’s thoughts, choosing a blogonym or pseudonym is preferable. Regulars who wish to do so may comment under a different blogonym by putting their new name in the “Name/URL” option. The URL can be left blank in all cases, unless one wishes to link to one's website.
For those who wish for more information, you may want to consult the sites already linked, or the following ones (some of which may be less familiar to Americans than the Israeli sites):
The Electronic Intifada; its editorial on IAW
Haartez on IAW
Palestine Remembered, which I originally found because of the high quality US university produced maps and the texts of the UN resolutions as well as the British documentation of the state of Palestine before 1948--all topics I was researching at the time. I came to appreciate its oral history project and photographic evidence supplied by displaced Palestinians and their older family members. It provides links to a number of interesting sources of information including alternative views. The level is generally high and well sourced with links to the evidence used and original documents. It has a very clear Mission Statement. The explanations in Conflict 101 and the Right of Return 101 are very helpful.
Full text of UN Resolution 194 (on the Palestinian Right of Return on Wikipedia
Wikipedia, on a number of the topics mentioned here, and the links it provides to primary sources and secondary sources.
Lawrence of Cyberia is an interesting blog on the topic of Israel/Palestine by linguist Diane Mason, a British-American Oxford graduate, and former translator and intelligence analyst for GCHQ (one of 3 British Intelligence Agencies), who combines professional knowledge and insights with current analysis of international events, books, and media reports, while raising 2 young children by her similarly trained and employed husband.
Gaza Community Mental Health Program, a clinical, research and teaching program directed by Palestinian psychiatrist Dr Eyad El-Sarraj,--a remarkable man, as judged by his work and his writings and publications--to improve mental health and mental health care in Gaza, gives an excellent idea of the impact of the Occupation on men, women, children, families, and the fabric of Palestinian society. Dr El-Sarraj has been "held" (tortured and placed in solitary confinement) by both Palestinian and Israeli forces, had his clinic and home bombed during the Gaza offensive, and his one daughter now suffers from the PTSD he so often treats in others. He testified at the UN War Crimes Commission regarding that offensive. Many interesting articles come up if you search his name, including this dialogue with Dr Eli Erich Lasch, former Israeli Director of Health Services, the Gaza Strip.
Your comments, thoughts, experiences of any of the themes above?
Your experiences of Israel Awareness Week, or the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign?
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?
Coming soon... the relevant Doha Debates*
*Calling on Obama: Get Tough on Israel
**The Pro-Israel Lobby: Defending Israel or Stifling Debate including of the Saudi Peace Initiative