Israel Apartheid Week – A Contradiction in Terms

Source: Haaretz

Every year, many universities around the world hold an event on their campuses know as “Israel Apartheid Week”.  The event is justified by the fact that it brings the so-called discriminatory behaviour of Israel to the attention of the general public to allow people to know “what is really happening in Israel and the Palestinian Territories”.  There could be no greater contradiction in terms than this.

I am trying to work out why the focus is on Israel’s reportedly discriminatory behaviour in particular?  Why Israel, as opposed to discrimination by the Turks against the Kurds, or discrimination by the Chinese against the Nepalese, or by the Russians against the Ukrainians in Crimea and other former Soviet countries, or the discrimination in many African countries, or discrimination by many Muslim countries against their minorities and foreign workers, and even their own citizens?  There are surely so many countries on the list of those behaving badly, that universities could mark some country’s discriminatory behaviour every week of the year.  While one form of discrimination does not justify another, the question is why Israel is singled out for an apartheid week of its own?  Surely this is discriminatory in itself?  It brings into question the real motivations of those who are the main instigators behind this highly questionable event, and how come it has gained so much traction around the world that it is repeated on an annual basis?

The first question that arises, is whether Israel really behaves in the discriminatory manner that is alleged by so many in the international community?  Given the level of threat and violence that is a constant in and around Israel, it is easy to conclude that Israel discriminates against Arabs.  News broadcasts frequently show IDF soldiers in action against those who are presented as innocent civilians.  Israeli is constantly engaged in one military operation or another.  This supports the easy conclusion about Israel being discriminatory against Arabs.  This conclusion, however, would be misguided.  Instead, it would be more accurate to say that Israel discriminates against the threat of terror and violence that she has to deal with.  And judging Israel’s actions using a standard for a western country, that is not subject to the same risks and terror attacks, is not an even playing field.  It would be interesting to see how other peace-seeking countries would respond to the set of circumstances that Israel finds herself in.  I suspect that Israel’s so-called “discrimination” would be seen in an entirely different light.  Using the term “apartheid” to describe Israel is simply an emotive term trying to play on the ultimate success of the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa.  There is no link between what is happening in Israel today, and Apartheid South Africa.

Many people try to put constant attacks on Israel in the international community simply down to Israel-hating and Jew-hating.  It is easy to say that these are anti-Semitic activities dressed up with a political justification, and leave it at that.  And, even though much of that is probably true, I don’t feel satisfied with leaving the explanation there.  It is important for me to put this into greater context.  I wish to understand where this comes from, and why it is rearing its head at this time and in this way.

The anti-Israel activities that have become common around the world, and which are epitomised in Israel Apartheid Week, bear resemblance to the wave of anti-Semitism that was in evidence in the years leading up to the Second World War.  We know that anti-Semitism is an age-old phenomenon that has no real explanation or justification.  We know that it has been allowed to rise and fall, largely by the general tolerance and acceptance of the general community.  It increased in its intensity when leaders in the international community have encouraged it, or tolerated it.  Hitler’s Germany is the best example when the state encouraged anti-Semitism on an industrial scale at the highest levels.  The man in the street needed little further encouragement, and the results are one of the most shameful periods in history.  It is my contention that the constant criticism of Israel at the highest echelons of the international community, is effectively encouraging the man in the street to believe that his hatred towards Israel and Jews is justified and consistent with public opinion.  It is inconceivable that Israel justifies being the one country in the world with more negative resolutions against her at the UN Security Council, or having a permanent agenda item to answer to at the UN Human Rights Council.  These unjustified actions are encouraging anti-Semitism on the streets of Europe, the USA and around the world.

We have just celebrated the Jewish festival of Purim, that marks victory over unjustified anti-Semitism in Persia more than 2,000 years ago.  It seems that little has changed since then.  Not in the modern-day Persian country of Iran, and not elsewhere around the world.  People are taking their cue from international leaders who find it acceptable to spew venom against Israel at every chance.  And to turn international institutions, particularly those connected to the UN, into tools of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.  This provides the green light for people around the world to feel that it is politically correct and acceptable to focus their hatred towards Israel.  This is clearly a form of anti-Semitism, in the same way as much of the anti-Israel activity is simply anti-Semitism dressed up to look politically acceptable.

Surely the time has come for international leaders to show true leadership and stop the discrimination once and for all.

About the Author
Anthony Reich is a former South African living in Israel. He holds strong views on matters relating to Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world.
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