Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international annual series of events held all over the world during February, March and April with the alleged purpose of spreading information regarding the plight of the Palestinian people and rallying support for their cause. The 2018 series of events takes place from 19th February until 17th April. On March 12, 2018 the South African IAW commenced. There were rallies, speeches, protests, presentations, workshops, even concerts, poetry readings and films, a huge festival of sorts, all designed, according to their website, to ‘raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies’ and ‘gain support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign’. This movement has much support especially in South Africa where we know what the racist apartheid regime was and so it is easy to get people to support an ‘anti-apartheid’ cause. People in South Africa and throughout the world jump onto the BDS bandwagon genuinely wanting to support the apparent underdog. Who wouldn’t want to support the underdog?
The problem with this mission statement and movement as a whole is that, simply, there is no apartheid in Israel. Jews, Muslims, Christians, Baha’i and other religious groups of all races and creeds, live and work together, vote, serve in government, have gay pride parades and do whatever they please in whichever way they please. I too support the Palestinian people to have freedom, real education, clean water, healthcare and full human rights. In other words I support the Palestinian people to be free from their corrupt, abusive, violence-inciting, terror-rewarding leadership.
If you are reading this and happen to be one of the very passionate people fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people, I implore you, as free-thinking and passionate individuals who care for the well-being of others, to consider the below responses to the arguments generally put forward:
1. “Palestinian people live in terrible conditions”
How is it possible for so many Palestinians to live in squalor while millions of dollars in aid are funnelled to the Palestinian Authority? Consider with this how it is possible for so many Palestinians to live in luxury at the same time. Who is supposed to be managing these funds and take care of the people? Why is so much money going into the destruction of the Jewish State instead of civil engineering and education?
2. “Israel is practicing ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinian people”
How is it possible for the Palestinian population to have grown from around 650,000 in 1948 to over 4.6 million now if Israel is engaged in constant ethnic cleansing? And if there is this ethnic cleansing going on, how is it that Israeli society is made up of millions of Muslim Arab and Christian citizens? It does not make sense.
3. “The Palestinian people are denied having a Palestinian State”
Why does the Palestinian Authority not say ‘yes’ to having a Palestinian State when offered? They can have a State at any time they like.
4. “Jews build / expand settlements in disputed areas”
Why is it made okay that the world should support the Palestinian people to be such ethno-fascists that it is somehow deemed ‘understandable’ if someone ‘loses all sense’ and murders people (including stabbing children to death) because of not wanting Jews to live among them? Should we not be more concerned that non-Muslims are, to put it euphemistically, not welcome in Palestinian areas? If those areas become a Palestinian State, then those Jews who live there should have the option of deciding whether to move in order to remain citizens of Israel, or become citizens of Palestine. Much like what should happen in the formation of any state.
5. “Israel can end the conflict by giving land over to the Palestinian Authority
Israel has given land in the past but nothing has changed with regards to the Jihad waged against Israel and the stream of rockets being fired into Israel. Why is this not questioned by those wholeheartedly standing against Israel by default of standing for the Palestinian people?
Be a courageous game-changer and question this. Supporting any boycott of Israel without investigating for oneself whether or not these allegations against Israel are true, not only puts supporters of Israel (or Jewish people in general as has been seen in many incidences around the world) in danger, but also prevents growth, learning, understanding and dialogue. It prevents the ingredients needed in the first place for peaceful resolutions.
Comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa does a gross disservice to those who suffered through apartheid.
Learn some facts from South Africans about what it means to compare Israel to apartheid South Africa. Listen to the honourable Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party and a South African who lived in apartheid South Africa. Consider other points of view. Note that ironically the BDS movement harms the Palestinian people as we saw in the BDS “victory” when the Soda Stream factory was forced to shut down and move out of the West Bank and so hundreds of Palestinian people lost their jobs.
Don’t simply jump on the IAW and BDS band-wagons. Be for the Palestinian people by questioning their leadership, not by being against countries which help them, including Israel. Supporting BDS ironically hurts the Palestinian people by putting the blame on others for their leaders’ crimes.