This never ceases to amaze me. While Israel’s occupation deepens every day and racism towards Arabs grows – see this “fury” over religious Zionist politicians demanding an Arab judge recite the Zionist national anthem – the mostly old and crusty Jewish spokespeople globally just want the world to better understand poor little Israel.
In today’s Murdoch Australian, we have the sorry sight of South African born Vic Alhadeff, loyal Zionist lobbyist, upset that Israeli Apartheid Week is upon us and he really knows what apartheid is. Not that he mentions the occupation of Palestine at all:
I went to boarding school in apartheid Rhodesia and edited newspapers and wrote books under the constraints of South Africa’s apartheid system. This week is the so-called “Israel Apartheid Week” on university campuses in Australia, so it bears reflecting on what apartheid really meant and why it is obscene that the apartheid descriptor has become the default position for the global delegitimisation campaign against Israel.
his week campuses in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and elsewhere will engage in activities under the banner of “Israel Apartheid Week”, which will include erecting simulated checkpoints at which role-playing students will be “shot” by “Israeli soldiers”.
These scenarios will be buttressed by speakers, posters, displays and movies depicting Israel as an apartheid state, with organisations such as Socialist Alternative, Students for Palestine and Action for Palestine actively involved.
It is axiomatic that Israeli society is a work in progress and that Arab Israelis suffer disadvantage in various spheres.
This issue is not only acknowledged by Israel’s government, but has been embraced by it through the appointment of a minister of minority affairs. The ministry existed in the first years of the fledgling state and was re-established in 1999 with the express purpose of tackling these inequities.
It is also a given that the condition of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is a serious issue, albeit inextricably bound up with the root cause of the conflict, which is the fundamental refusal to accept Israel’s existence.
Alhadeff’s pedigree makes his current position all the more offensive especially since many blacks who actually suffered under South African apartheid today say what is happening to Palestinians is worse than their plight.
This weekend sees Harvard’s One State Solution conference and apoplexy has set in. Call the authorities. Shut it down. Hitler is back. Or is it Bin Laden or Saddam or Arafat or Ahmadinejad? I always forget which bad guy Zionists like to quote.
In 1948, when the Arab League declared war on Israel, no one imagined that six decades later American universities would become its overseas agency. Yet campus incitement against Israel has been growing from California to the New York Island. A conference at Harvard next week called “Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution” is but the latest aggression in an escalating campaign against the Jewish state.
The sequence is by now familiar: Arab student groups and self-styled progressives organize a conference or event like “Israeli Apartheid Week,” targeting Israel as the main problem of the Middle East. They frame the goals of these events in buzzwords of “expanding the range of academic debate.” But since the roster of speakers and subjects makes their hostile agenda indisputable, university spokespersons scramble to dissociate their institutions from the events they are sponsoring. Jewish students and alums debate whether to ignore or protest the aggression, and newspapers fueling the story give equal credence to Israel’s attackers and defenders.…Students who are inculcated with hatred of Israel may want to express their national, religious or political identity by urging its annihilation. But universities that condone their efforts are triple offenders—against their mission, against the Jewish people, and perhaps most especially against the maligners themselves. Smoking is less fatal to smokers than anti-Jewish politics is to its users. Remember Hitler’s bunker.
Early in the last decade, when campaigns to divest university funds from Israel arrived at Ivy League schools, Larry Summers, then-president of Harvard University, took an important stand saying, “Not on my watch.’’ He explained that any effort to compare democratic Israel to apartheid South Africa was abhorrent and deserved to be rejected out of hand. The campaign soon died at Harvard as well as other campuses.
Now a new manifestation of extreme anti-Israel activity is coming to Harvard. “One State Conference,’’ scheduled for March 3-4, will explore the “contours of a one-state solution’’ in the Israel-Palestinian conflict and will feature leading anti-Israel activists, including Ali Abunimah, author of “One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse’’; Stephen Walt, co-author of “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy’’; and Ilan Pappé, author of “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.’’
The conference is student-sponsored by the Harvard Law School’s Justice for Palestine and the Kennedy School’s Palestine Caucus, Arab Caucus, and Progressive Caucus. Particularly troubling, however, is that Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Office of the Provost are supporting the conference financially, according to the conference website. The Harvard administration has somewhat distanced itself from the conference, saying that the university “would not endorse any policy that some argue could lead to the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel.’’
When Summers rejected divestment at Harvard, he raised the question as to whether those who were unfairly singling out Israel were motivated by anti-Semitism. He assumed that some probably were and others probably were not, but either way, he reasoned, the consequences of such activity were to make anti-Semitism more acceptable and more likely.
His words can be also used about a conference based on the idea that the only Jewish state in the world, the home of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, should disappear.
This Harvard conference is another wake-up call. The effort to delegitimize the Jewish state is moving apace. It is time for all good people, on campus and off, to stand up against this fundamental assault on the Jewish people.
Quick, everybody, look for the bomb shelters, the one-staters are coming demanding equal rights for both Jews and Palestinians. What a shocking idea.
Palestinian Diana Buttu, writing in the Boston Globe, is sensible and calm:
Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories already function as a single unit. There are no separate border crossings for “Palestine’’ and no separate Palestinian currency. Yet Palestinians of the occupied Palestinian territories are denied the same civil and political rights as Israelis. For Palestinian citizens of Israel, the picture is similar. Such citizens vote in Israeli elections, but are denied the same rights as Jewish Israelis. More than 35 laws explicitly privilege Jews.
Perspectives are already changing. Today, more than a quarter of Palestinians support a single democratic state, despite the absence of any political party advocating the position. Israeli perspectives are changing too on both the left and right.
The primary obstacle to one state is the belief that this system of ethno-religious privilege – similar to the privilege that ruled apartheid South Africa – must remain. Indeed, Jim Crow laws and South African apartheid were similarly entrenched in many minds. Yet history demonstrates that ethnic privilege ultimately fails in a multiethnic society. Palestinians and Israelis are fated to live together. The real question is how – under a system of ethno-religious privilege or under a system of equality?
I agree that innocent people shouldn’t suffer greatly for the sins of their government, even the ones they democratically elected, and whose policies they support. Those who think otherwise accept the Bin Laden justification for 9/11. But how much suffering has the BDS movement afflicted on Israel? With all due respect, a cancellation of a Tel-Aviv concert, or a boycott of Sabra Humus, doesn’t hurt the Israelis at all, except, perhaps, emotionally. Such boycotts send a clear message, get front page coverage in all the press, and are used by Israelis as proof that Israel is an international pariah. We are not talking about crippling sanctions here.
Let’s face it: whatever steam the BDS movement has is because of the Occupation. Nobody has cancelled a concert because the Palestinian refugee problem is unresolved, or because Israeli Arabs suffer discrimination. Maybe they should, but they haven’t. The three calls of the Global BDS movement should remind liberal Zionists (among others) that while the Occupation is the most egregious injustice perpetrated by Israel, it is not the only thing rotten in the state of Israel.
Endorsing targeted BDS and disagreeing with global BDS is fine for liberal Zionists…But dissing the global BDS movement, with its three eminently reasonable calls is not. Or rather, it is consistent with the tribal attitude of many liberal Zionists I know who are quick to throw stones against the settlers from their glass houses in Tel Aviv – or their stone Arab houses in South Jerusalem.