Prior to reading week, the Arab Students Collective held the third annual “Israeli Apartheid Week.” Fierce rhetoric, posters proclaiming “Globalize the Intifada,” and pamphlets calling for the boycott of Israeli products were in abundance.
So what did I, as someone concerned with establishing justice and lasting peace in the Middle East, derive from the materials provided? Unfortunately, the only conclusion I could draw was that ASC does not have a similar desire for peace.
The events of the week were clear-cut anti-Israel propaganda with the main goal of promoting Israel’s destruction. The maps of the region provided by ASC did not even show Israel! During all the events I heard an old refrain that gets repeated again and again in the Arab media: whatever happens in the Arab world (domestic violence, corruption, sectarian fighting, militias instead of democracy, etc) is all Israel’s fault.
That event drew few listeners, though enthusiastic fans came from the Communist club. Communist pamphlets, for some reason, advocate a similar anti-Israel stance, though Israel is the only country in the world to develop communes (kibbutzim) not based on dictatorships.
Obviously, the objective of the week was not to stand by the Palestinians, as cases of discrimination of Palestinians in other Arab countries were ignored. Never mentioned were the minimal contributions by Arab countries to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, the expulsion of 30,000 and murder of hundreds of Palestinians by Shia militias after Saddam fell in Iraq, or a similar expulsion from Kuwait, where Palestinians made the mistake of supporting Saddam during Iraq’s invasion. The number of Palestinian Arabs killed in Iraq greatly exceeds the number of Arabs killed in Palestine. (See the Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1170359764921&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull ) Yet that bigger problem went unaddressed.
ASC does not condemn the fact that Palestinians are denied citizenship and government-funded healthcare in Lebanon and Syria, yet it takes a virulent stance against capitalist countries like the U.S. America has provided the largest amount of money to the Palestinians (some $41 million U.S.), compared to oil-rich Kuwait ($1.3 million), Saudi Arabia ($1 million), and Dubai ($30,000).
Did “democracy seekers” at the conference comment on the governments of Egypt and Qatar expelling renowned Arab journalists, writers, and athletes just for visiting Israel? No.
Much was said about the separation wall that separates Israel and the Palestinian Authority areas. But Hamas openly states that its goal is to destroy the state of Israel. Add suicide bombers routinely trying to enter Israel, and streetfighting between rival machine gun-toting Palestinian militias, and it’s no wonder that Israel seeks to separate itself from such violence.
During the IAW, Israeli Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka gave a talk entitled, “Debunking the myth of Israel as a democracy,” in effect using Israeli tax money to bash his country and broadcast his “No democracy in Israel” message. Why did ASC not invite one of the Israeli Arab or Druze ministers to have their say? Perhaps it’s because public opinion is not so easily split-Arab nationalist parties in Israel get less than 10 per cent of the votes of Israeli Arabs, the majority voting Labour.
The PA does not accord voting rights or rights to settle to anyone except Muslim Arabs. In light of discriminatory policies like these, it is a joke for the Arab world to talk about a lack of democracy in Israel.
I am not saying that Israel is completely innocent of having committed injustices against Palestinians. However, it is counterproductive to the peace process to accuse Israel of things for which it bears no responsibility, especially things for which the Palestinians themselves are at fault. We need to start being fair to all parties if we want to achieve peace based on justice.
Nothing constructive was offered during Israeli Apartheid Week. Nothing said about the “road map” to peace. Nothing on the Arab League’s Saudi Initiative. Nothing on cooperation. The IAW organizers’ sole objective was to illegitimize Israel.
Who wants to follow that killing wind? I feel sorry for the Arab Students Collective.