An extensive anti-Israeli propaganda campaign called “Israeli Apartheid Week” will take place across Europe and North America in March 2011. Going back to the Durban Conference (2001), it aims to brand Israel as a racist state that should be boycotted until its collapse as happened with the South African apartheid regime.
1. The so-called “Israeli Apartheid Week” is an annual event that takes place on dozens of campuses and other sites in Western countries as part of the global effort to delegitimize Israel. Its goal, according to the website of the IAW organizers, is to “educate” the Western public about Israel’s nature as an apartheid state and to promote an international boycott that would eventually lead to its collapse (like the collapse of the apartheid regime in South Africa). This year, IAW is slated for March 21-26 in Britain and March 7-20 inother European countries and North America.
2. At this point, the IAW organizers avoid disclosing information on the locations where the various activities will take place (presumably, that information will be made available later). Last year, the events took place in more than 50 cities across the globe (mostly on campuses), including London, Oxford, New York, Chicago, Toronto, Amsterdam, and Madrid. It is our belief that the organizers will attempt to hold the events in the cities where they were held in the past, and possibly in other cities as well.
3. A large number of networks and activists involved in the delegitimization effort (who refer to themselves as the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid) take part in the organization of IAW events. Of particular note is a network called BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions).
4. Inspired by the first Durban Conference (2001), BDS was established in 2005, the year when IAW events first began. It is made up of numerous Palestinian and non-Palestinian NGOs. One of its most important centers is situated in Ramallah, the seat of a “national committee” for the promotion of the international boycott of Israel. BDS promotes boycott of Israel in various spheres, including divestment, sanctions, and prevention of cultural, academic, or sports ties with it (actions similar to those taken against the apartheid regime in South Africa).
5. Examination of IAW themes in previous years clearly shows that these are well-organized events taking place in various sites worldwide, whose aim is to undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel by portraying it as a racist country and associating it with the South African apartheid regime. The security fence is referred to as the “Israeli apartheid wall” to reinforce the image of Israel as an “apartheid state”. The false branding of Israel as an “apartheid state” is motivated by an attempt to smear Israel as racist, as well as an effort to spread the message that the Zionist model is doomed to collapse just like the apartheid regime in South Africa, clearing the way for the establishment of a Palestinian country on the entire territory of “Palestine”.
6. In addition to focusing on the comparison between Israel and the apartheid regime, the IAW has been used in recent years to spread other messages aimed to delegitimize, slander, and isolate Israel, turn it into a pariah state and promote the vision of its collapse. Such messages include bringing up the claim that Israel commits “ethnic cleansing” against the Palestinians (associating it with Serbia, whose leaders were accused of war crimes); demanding that all Palestinian refugees be granted the right to return to the places they left in 1948 (knowing that the realization of the “right of return” would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state); calling for an economic, social, and cultural boycott of Israel; and demanding to end the “occupation” and “colonization” of “all Arab territories” (i.e., the elimination of the State of Israel, whose territory is considered as Palestinian/Arab land).
The origins of Israeli Apartheid Week
7. The inspiration for the IAW and the establishment of BDS came from the first Durban Conference(August-September 2001) held under U.N. auspices and titled “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance”. The conference became a platform for anti-Semitic Israel-bashing, which included trivializing the Holocaust.
8. The final declaration of the NGOs that took part in the conference announced “a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state… the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links… between all states and Israel”.1
IAW events in previous years
9. The IAW events are held on campuses and other sites worldwide to “educate” people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns(from the IAW organizers’ website).
10. The first IAW event took place in 2005 in the University of Toronto, Canada, and was organized by Palestinian immigrants and Arab students. The event included a lecture by anti-Zionist Israeli historian Ilan Pappé titled “Resistance to Israeli Apartheid: Divestment and Palestinian Intifada”. In 2006, the event was held in four cities in Canada and Britain, with Oxford playing a major part. In 2007, the activity expanded to the U.S. (University of New York); the 2008 IAW focused on the demand to let Palestinian refugees return to their homes in Israel and was titled “60 Years of ethnic cleansing and exile for Palestinians”.
11. 2009 was notable for Israeli and Jewish protests against the IAW events and their spread throughout the campuses. Of particular note was a riot in York University, Toronto, when an angry mob of about one hundred anti-Israeli activists started pounding the glass doors of the Hillel Jewish student club and shouting racist slogans at the students inside. Police had to be called to escort the Jewish students to safety.
12. The March 2010 IAW events expanded to over 50 cities in Europe and North America. For the London events, the organizers enlisted Jewish and Israeli spokesmen who, along with their Palestinian counterparts, became part of the campaign describing Israel as an “apartheid state”. The following are examples of some of the activities scheduled to take place during Israeli Apartheid Week, 2010 (according to the IAW website, late January 2011):
1 Reut Institute report on BDS.
2 The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is part of the University of London. The SOAS Palestine society is actively involved in anti-Israeli propaganda. The Palestinian Return Center (PRC), a British organization affiliated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, intensively conducts many anti-Israeli activities in the university.
3 Dr. Sari Hanafi teaches sociology in the American University of Beirut, and is the former director of Shaml, the Palestinian Refugee and Diaspora Center in Ramallah. According to Hanafi, the two-state model leads to apartheid and not to two states. Instead, he proposes an alternative “post-national” model-the establishment of an Israeli-Palestinian confederation that would offer citizenship to all Palestinians, even if they do not return to their homes (jadal.mada-research.org).
4 An anti-Israeli documentary directed by Alberto Arce, based on documentation done by foreigners who remained in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead: volunteers from ISM and Free Gaza (two major organizations in the coalition that directs the effort to delegitimize Israel) and two reporters for Al-Jazeera (a TV channel that was involved in pro-Hamas propaganda and vicious anti-Israeli incitement during Operation Cast Lead).