We’re not attacking free speech, but hate speech

It’s a vehicle using malice aforethought designed to isolate the state of Israel from humankind by comparing it to one of the worst regimes that the world has had the misfortune to endure.

The three words, Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), are designed to evoke pictures of people being treated differently for no other reason than their race.

I am not going to spend the next 400 words telling you that Israel isn’t an apartheid state because any sane, reasonable, conscious person already knows that.

I will explain why IAW must be ended, either by a mass contagion of common sense, or more realistically by legislation.

Those who argue that IAW is about free speech misunderstand its mission and deliver a victory to extremists on a silver platter.

The masterminds behind the first event chose the title with a specific corollary in mind.

IAW draws comparisons with South Africa because apartheid was defeated by boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

The same logic is applied by those who designed IAW, except the end game isn’t regime or constitutional change. The goal for many is the eradication of Israel.

The BDS movement knows that Israel can’t be destroyed militarily, so tries to do it through lies.

BDS proponents say that the Jewish people have no historic claim on Israel.

They say that Israel treats Arabs as second class citizens.

They say that Israel doesn’t want peace.

These are all lies.

However, if your view is, ‘Well, Michael McCann runs an organisation titled the Israel Britain Alliance (IBA), so he would say that, wouldn’t he!’ then ignore me.

Read the words of Omar Barghouti, a founder of the BDS movement.

Barghouti said: “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine….ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean ending the Jewish state itself.”

Israel faced battles for survival in 1948, 1967 and 1973, and won.

The next battles will take place in the hearts and minds of this and future generations.

Outlawing Israeli Apartheid Week isn’t an attack on free speech, it’s an attack on hate speech.

Allowing an IAW event to take place doesn’t mean that you have upheld a noble tradition. It means that you’ve given in to hate.

What’s the solution? It’s simple; universities have a duty to foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.

For that reason, they don’t allow debates on campus where, for example, it could be argued that white people were better than black people or that disabled people should be euthanised.

Some disturbed minds may think that way, but society has a responsibility to protect us from hate.

What’s the difference between having a pathological hatred of a person’s skin colour and having a pathological hatred of a country and its inhabitants?

There is zero difference.

Our government agrees and, on 12 December 2016, it adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

But last year, while the IBA, working alongside its many partners, were successful in closing down events in university campuses, many still went ahead.

If universities refuse to take their responsibilities seriously, and allow hatred on campuses, the law must be augmented to ensure fairness and parity for all.

About the Author
Michael McCann is a former Labour MP and is now Director, Israel Britain Alliance
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