Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Israel Apartheid Week – victories and defeats

Israel Apartheid Week – victories and defeats

Anti anti-apartheid posters
Pro-Israel anti anti-apartheid posters on UK campus
The annual Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) – which should be renamed Israel Apartheid Month because there’s too much hate to fit into just one week – has been taking place across campuses worldwide, and spilling over into “regular” BDS against Israeli owned or connected shops.
First the bad news: this anti-Israel, even antisemitic, activity has taken place in several campuses in the United States and throughout Europe. As Ynet reports:
The Israel Apartheid Week, a pro-Palestinian international campaign which includes films, lectures, demonstrations and calls for a boycott of Israel, commenced in US campuses on Sunday. The anti-Israel event was initiated in Europe eight years ago. This year’s event will last six days in the US and then move to Canada.
There is some good news within the article though. It appears that Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities have learned the lessons of the past and have begun to combat and counteract these revolting displays of bigotry:
Contrary to alarming headlines in local media, US students are not as troubled by Apartheid Week events as it would seem. A survey among American students reveals that 80% are in fact not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The survey also indicates that 15% students are pro-Israeli compared with only 5% of students who are pro-Palestinian.
In fact, many students regard Apartheid Week with its rallies and “checkpoints” as mainly annoying. Out of roughly 4,000 campuses in the US, almost all do not have an anti-Israel atmosphere. Only a few dozen campuses hold a prominent debate on the issue.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry assists some 10 Jewish and non-Jewish organizations in their efforts to promote a pro-Israel discourse in these campuses. One of them is the the David Project, which was founded in Boston in 2002 during the Al-Aqsa Intifada. The organization aims to promote the idea that Israel plays the part of “David,” of the David and Goliath story, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In England the usual suspects have been having a grand old time in their vilification of Israel, as Richard Millett courageously reports from lions’ den (or dens). First he reportsfrom UCL where Rafeef Ziada, who now teaches at the notoriously anti-Israel SOAS, praised the terrorist group Islamic Jihad at the opening session of IAW.
He continued on to Middlesex University (situated in the Jewish area of North West London) where Ken O’Keefe, loud-mouthed abusive participant in the Gaza flotilla, compared Jews to Nazis.
However, there is at least one bright spot emanating from France, where the University of Paris 8, formerly part of the Sorbonne, simply closed the campus for a few days in order to avoid having IAW take place on its campus.
The University of Paris 8, formerly a part of the Sorbonne, has decided to cancel a conference that was scheduled to be held by a pro-Palestinian group at the establishment on Monday.
The group, Collectif Palestine Paris 8, initially received permission from the university’s president, Pascal Binczak, to hold the event titled “Israel: an apartheid state?” The authorization was withdrawn due to the concern that the event’s “highly polemic nature” could trigger “disturbances to the public order,” the school said in a statement released Sunday.
Binczak published an article in the French newspaper “Le Monde” explaining his decision. He described some anti-Semitic incidents on campus, such as graffiti and signs linking the Jewish Star of David to a Nazi swastika. He further wrote that the group leaders were taking advantage of academic freedom.
Israel Matzav has some more on this:
Israel Radio is reporting that the Sorbonne’s President has forbidden Israel apartheid week from taking place on its campus, and that prohibition has the backing of the French courts. However, the pro-’Palestinian’ ‘activists’ have said that they will hold the event by force. As a result, the university’s President has ordered the university closed on Monday and Tuesday to prevent the event from taking place. In response to charges by the ‘activists’ that not allowing the event will impair ‘academic freedom,’ the university has said that there is no academic freedom at an event where the other side cannot respond.
I salute the Professor’s integrity and courage. He is an example to all academic institutions worldwide.
Via Elder of Ziyon we can also read an excellent article from the National Post about “the return of the Apartheid Week Cult”.
The Elder has produced an excellent series of “Apartheid” cartoons and photoshops which are worth a look and are an extremely useful tool for anyone involved in anti-IAW activity.
In a related issue, a Canadian store owned by an Israeli which was the subject of a vicious has won a victory against the BDS activists, when their boycott backfired:
The story of Shani Bar-Oz, a Canada-based Israeli facing venomous protests outside her Vancouver soap products store, elicited a huge wave of support and generated new business, the shop owner old Ynet.
“I received a huge embrace and plenty of support,” Bar-Oz said, after an article about her plight appeared on Ynet. In the story, the store owner, who insists on selling Israeli products, shared her fears of contending with anti-Israel protesters targeting her business and shouting anti-Semitic slogans.
However, it now appears that the boycott campaign against Bar-Oz has backfired, with new orders pouring in as result of the story.
“There were Israelis who came into the store and said they saw the article and want to support and help me; I expressed my heartfelt thanks to them,” she said. “People won’t stop calling and ordering products on the phone and online, and this is truly touching and making me stronger.”
“I’m now preparing for the boycotts of ‘Apartheid Week,’ but at least I understand that there are so many supporters behind me,” she said. “I feel that I’m not forgetting where I came from and helping my homeland.”
Kol hakavod to Bar On and all the activists who took part in this campaign and in the other anti-IAW campaigns. If we all band together and stay strong we can beat the bigots.