You may well have missed it, because it didn’t make too many international headlines, but this week is part of “Israel Apartheid Week”. Did you know that? Did it change your life? Hopefully not!
According to the website apartheidweek.org, 77 cities around the world are taking part; screening films, holding discussions and generally reinforcing their own and their supporters’ unbalanced view of the Israel/Palestinian conflict. Many of the events scheduled are screenings of the film “Izkor, Slaves of Memory” which uses the Spring cycle of feasts in Judaism as the starting point for the thesis that Israel’s “apartheid behaviour” is somehow linked to their cultural memories (haven’t worked that one out yet).
Being sadly sceptical of the local impact of the worldwide delegitimisation and BDS movements (shame on me!), I went through all 77 cities on the apartheid.org website to find out just how widespread the actual support and activity of this movement is. This is what I found:
- The list of 77 cities taking part in Israel Apartheid Week is under the heading “Find a City Near You“. Since it included Essex and Sussex as cities, in neither of which were any events mentioned, that’s 75 cities left.
- Of the rest, 34 were showing no events listed at all, so that’s 41 cities left.
- Of the 11 British cities listed (excluding the “cities” of Essex and Sussex) five had no events listed and Coventry was “not found” (sorry Coventry!). So only five British cities are taking part this year.
- As you would expect, most activity centres round universities (University College of London features unsurprisingly as the main venue in London) and there are a lot of events in South Africa. I find this latter fact sad, as an insistence on applying the word “apartheid” to Israel belittles the suffering of those who experienced real apartheid in that country for so many years.
- Strangely, no events at all are listed for anywhere in ‘Palestine’, the focus of all this campaigning.
- The range of events around the globe goes from serious lectures and film screenings to a protest against performances by an Israeli dance company and an “anti-apartheid cooking demo”(!) (both in New York).
- Events worldwide are spread between February 20 and March 25, which is an extraordinarily long “week” and must surely dilute whatever media impact the organisers hoped to achieve.
Their website confirms that Israel Apartheid Week is part of the whole delegitimisation and BDS movement, one of the biggest focal points of which is London. You can read more about the background to this extremist alliance on our website, here. The assortment of groups and campaigns that make up this movement comprise effectively a “third intifada” (the first two having been initiated in Israel in 1987 and 2000). The participating organisations have taken the Palestinian “message” to an international level in a concerted attempt to influence politicians, religious leaders and ordinary people to their cause. As they do so they apply emotive but empty rhetoric, half-truths and deceptive methods in their efforts to rally support. They rely on the fact that it is human nature to believe what you are told by convincing and committed speakers and writers. Human nature needs to become more discerning and to seek out the facts behind the passion and rhetoric.
For example, one event at the University of Leeds this week had two students leading a discussion on “Universities of Apartheid”. They no doubt attempted to persuade their audience that Israeli Arabs and Palestinians are kept out of Israeli universities, when nothing could be farther from the truth. The crowning irony is that the figurehead of the whole delegitimisation/BDS movement is Omar Bhargouti, a Palestinian studying at the University of Tel Aviv (work that one out)!
The BDS/Apartheid/delegitimisation movement is dangerous because it influences people who are innocent or ignorant of the facts of what goes on in the Middle East. However, as long as Israel is a major innovator and exporter of hi-tech products to the world; as long as major hi-tech companies base their research there and as long as British and European delegations are talking to their Israeli counterparts about improving trade links (all of which are happening right now), local attempts to stop us buying fruit and veg that may or may not have come from an Israeli settlement are hardly likely to cause major damage to Israel’s incredible and ongoing economic growth!
CMEW is committed to doing our part to combat the efforts of the anti-Israel and anti-semitic campaigns taking place in Britain. We have just printed our third booklet, on the historical legitimacy of Israel (see separate post) and we will shortly be publishing a report exposing a major deception being perpetrated by British BDS campaigners. In the meantime, please promise me that Israel Apartheid Week won’t make you lose any sleep!