[DEBATE] : Israeli Apartheid Week will reach 27 international cities in 2009 (JPost)
Salim.Vally at wits.ac.za
Fri Jan 30 12:55:10 GMT 2009
The best, most sophisticated student activism for Palestinian rights
The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition <http://www.jpost.com/>
Israeli Apartheid Week 2009 may be coming to a campus near you
Jan. 29, 2009
Tori Cheifetz , THE JERUSALEM POST
Israeli Apartheid Week will take place on March 1-8 on college campuses
in 27 cities internationally, in what has become a growing phenomenon
since the annual event was started in 2005.
Although the schedule for this year's version has not yet been released,
a message on its Web site makes clear what the focus will be: "This
year, IAW occurs in the wake of Israel's barbaric assault against the
people of Gaza. Lectures, films and actions will make the point that
these latest massacres further confirm the true nature of Israeli
The event aims "to continue to build and strengthen the growing Boycott,
Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at a global level," according
to the site.
An archive of past Israeli Apartheid Weeks on apartheidweek.org confirms
the event's growing popularity. In 2005, the event took place only in
Toronto. The next year, it grew to include Montreal and Oxford. Five
locations, including New York, were added in 2007, bringing it to the
United States for the first time.
From 2007 to 2008, there was a huge jump as 19 locations were added for
a total of 24 (certain others were discontinued). This year, with the
addition of three new locations, Israeli Apartheid Week will be held in
In addition to existing programs in Canada, England and the US, the
event will now reach South Africa, the West Bank, Mexico, Scotland and
Norway. Locations include Abu Dis, Berkeley, Bir Zeit, Edinburgh,
Edmonton, Johannesburg, Oxford, Kalkilya, San Francisco, Soweto, Tulkarm
and Washington, DC.
In certain cities, the events will take place on more than one campus.
In Toronto and Montreal, pro-Israel groups have confirmed that events
for the week will be taking place on three campuses per city, as they
have in the past.
The Web site, which is usually down for most of the year (except for a
welcome message), was relaunched on Wednesday with new material for
Israeli Apartheid Week 2009. Web surfers are invited to learn about the
history of the week, the proposed academic boycott, and BDS calls.
Speakers have included Balad MK Jamal Zahalka in 2007 and former MK Azmi
Bishara, also of Balad, who began Israeli Apartheid Week 2008 with a
live broadcast from Soweto.
In his February 2007 Israeli Apartheid Week speech at the University of
Toronto, Zahalka spoke of the "myth of Israeli democracy."
"Democracy is Israel's most important export," he said. "This product
[democracy] is so important that it gives Israel moral legitimacy,
political legitimacy, influence and acceptance."
Pro-Israel campus groups have been gearing up to respond to Israel
Apartheid Week 2009.
The event's organizers "are capitalizing on the fact that people are
horrified by the experience of the black people in South Africa and by
the experiences of Jews in the Holocaust. The anti-Israel movement hopes
to inspire opposition to the State of Israel by applying the labels of
Apartheid and Holocaust to the treatment of Palestinians by Israel,"
Orna Hollander, head of the Canadian Center for Israel Activism, said
An employee at the Israeli Embassy in Washington seemed put off by the
mention of the week and said he had never heard of such a thing. The
embassy in Ottawa declined to comment, but said it was well aware of the
Asked about the feelings of Jewish students at Oxford University,
second-year student Jacob Turner explained Wednesday that "Jewish
students on Oxford campus are mostly apolitical. The Oxford Israeli
Cultural Society will keep making our points to the press, in order to
ensure that there is a two-sided debate, but beyond that, there is
nothing we can do."
Josh Xiong, president of the pro-Israel group at the University of
Toronto, Zionists @ U of T (ZUT), said his most pressing concern for the
week was that "it crushes any true form of discussion. In blaming Israel
for all the failures of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
Israeli Apartheid Week alienates anybody else who holds opposing
viewpoints and misleads many others who simply want to learn more about
In recognition of a newfound cooperation between Hillel and ZUT, Xiong
said a possible response to the week would be "a collaboration between
Hillel and ZUT on a 'Just Facts' event to educate students on campus in
an impartial way and to debunk some of the one-sided rhetoric Israeli
Apartheid Week produces."
Dan Hadad, director of advocacy for Hillel Montreal, has been present
for past Israeli Apartheid Weeks and said there would be a focus again
this year, on Canadian campuses, on the "Canadian apartheid of
In a YouTube video called "Israeli Apartheid Week 2008 Trailer," Salim
Valley of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign provided reasoning for this
link between Canadian aboriginals and Palestinians.
"At the world conference against racism, what did they do when they saw
overwhelmingly Dalits [South Asian untouchables], indigenous people from
South Africa, African peasants, and people from Asia marching together
under the banner 'Zionism is racism'?" Valley asked. "When Palestinians
took up the course of the Dalits, when some Palestinians stood with
indigenous people in South America, when together in South Africa - the
home once of Apartheid - they stood together, the ruling class, carriers
of misery, racists throughout the world started trembling."
In the same video, Rafeeh Ziadah of Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid,
dismissed the option of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
"Nobody would have asked a black South African to dialogue with a white
South African. Nobody would have asked a black from the southern United
States to dialogue with members of the KKK. Now, by that same logic, we
Palestinians have nothing to dialogue about with Zionists," she said.
The focus in past years' weeks has included "Apartheid and the Current
Context in Palestine," "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement
against Israeli Apartheid: Lessons from South Africa," "Nakba and the
Right of Return," and "Voices for Palestine: Resistance to Racism and
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