Israeli Apartheid Week

Harvard University’s undergraduate council voted on Sunday to give $2,050 to the Palestine Solidarity Committee to fund Israeli Apartheid Week, which runs until April 4.

According to the University Daily, The Harvard Crimson, the Week includes Palestinian speakers, a student panel, an unveiling of a physical Wall of Resistance, and a movie screening.

It is difficult to imagine a more blatant form of anti-Israel bias. One can only wonder why Harvard’s privileged students, who are among the brightest in the land, should have fallen for such a propaganda stunt.

Israel is not a paragon of virtue. Neither is the United States. However, given the fact that we face Iranian backed Hezbollah forces to the North, Hamas terrorists to the South, who launch rockets and fire bombs into our towns and kibbutzim, and a Palestinian Authority to the East that gives stipends to the families of those who injure or murder Israeli civilians, it is remarkable the degree to which we have nevertheless managed to maintain a civilized society in a part of the world where there are no democracies. Would that we had Canada as our neighbour!

Presumably Harvard’s undergraduate council prefers the way that Hamas runs Gaza, or the manner in which Mahmoud Abbas, elected to office in 2005 for a 4-year term, continues to serve as the Palestinian Authority’s president.

But let us take a look for a moment at the argument that Israel is an apartheid state. Former South African Constitutional Court Justice Richard Goldstone wrote in a New York Times op-ed that accusing Israel of apartheid “is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations”.

Those of us who live and contend with the harsh realities of the Middle East rather than residing in the leafy suburbs of Cambridge, Massachusetts, know that the apartheid accusation is slanderous.

Some 8% of Israel’s judges are Arabs. Jewish and Arab doctors and medical staff work side by side in our hospitals. The team at my local pharmacy is headed by an Arab as is the staff at my local post office. 20% of the students at Israel’s MIT, the Technion, are Arabs.

The Joint List, an alliance of the main Arab-dominated parties in Israel, was the third largest faction following the 2015 elections and won over 10% of the seats in Israel’s Knesset.

Of course, the West Bank is another story, but that it because we have enemies there. In spite of repeated efforts, Israel has sadly yet to reach a peace agreement with those who still call for our destruction.

Now if some of Harvard’s students want to call that apartheid, it would appear that they have no idea of what went on in South Africa and have simply swallowed Palestinian propaganda hook, line and sinker. That intelligent and gifted young people like them should have chosen to do so should be a matter of concern to all fair-minded, thinking people.

About the Author
Rabbi Boyden was educated and received his rabbinical ordination in London, England. Having served as the rabbi of Cheshire Reform Congregation for thirteen years, he made aliyah with his family in 1985. He has established Reform congregations in Ra'anana and Hod Hasharon and previously served as director of the Israel Reform Movement's Beit Din.