Adding to the World’s Misery The Travesty of “Israel Apartheid week”

By Noga Emmanuel on March 25, 2010

Last month an ugly ritual event  replayed itself: “Israel Apartheid week”. In Montreal, 500  local artists signed a letter in support of an international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Jewish state: 

"to protest the Israeli state's ongoing denial of the inalienable rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, [as] well as Israel's ongoing occupation and colonization of the West Bank (including Jerusalem) and Gaza, which also constitutes a violation of international law and multiple United Nations resolutions".

This letter and the premises which underly this obscenely unjust event should not go unchallenged. Especially in Montreal, a city whose residents ought to remember how, during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, there were mass rallies whose banner was: We are all Hizballa. Hizballa, let it be recalled, is a terrorist organization that fashions itself on the eliminationist anti-Semitic ideologies of Nazi Germany.

It is clear that these self-styled pro-peace activists care less about “rais[ing] awareness about Palestinian struggles” than they do about bringing about the implementation of  “the inalienable rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties”. 

“Apartheid” is a deliberate and much hackneyed misnomer, a bad habit that spreads by contagion, of applying to Israel the worst human rights abuses that ever took place on earth throughout history.

“'Mal nommer les choses, c'est ajouter au malheur du monde”, said Albert Camus. To call things by incorrect names is to add to the world’s misery. 

In this case, naming Israel’s policies in combating Palestinian terrorism by the term reserved for one of the more evil regimes in modern history is to demonize Israel and dehumanize its Jewish and many other decent supporters. There cannot be any good outcome for such a deliberate and dedicated campaign of vilification but the augmentation of injustice in the world, with Jews being the ones to bear the brunt of it.

According to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA), apartheid is defined as  "inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them."

This definition fits South Africa’s apartheid past policies. It does not fit Israel’s policies of combating Palestinian terror, either in intent or means.

Israel takes very decisive and uncompromising measures to safeguard the well being and life of its Israeli citizens. Those include building a physical barrier between Palestinians and Israelis, checkpoints and separate roads for Israeli cars in the West Bank where there are Israeli settlements. 

The reason for such measures has nothing to do with racial bigotry or any attempt to enshrine an evil principle of segregation between “superior” and “inferior” races, which was the premise of South African apartheid. The reason is strictly that of security. There is no question that Palestinians suffer hardships as a result of these measures. There are human rights infringements. Palestinians cannot travel to and from in perfect freedom. Schoolchildren take long time to get to their schools. The Separation Fence often cuts into Palestinian fields which makes it hard for farmers to till the land. These are all great inconveniences, without a doubt. But the ultimate truth is that the human right to live, free of the threat of violence and death is a higher claim.  The first fully-articulated right  in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates in Article 3: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

 Thus the human right of Israeli kids to get to school without getting shredded on exploding buses on their way, of Israeli citizens to get to their place of work without being gunned down in drive-by shootings takes a priority over the right to get to work or school without hassle and on time. 

The removal of these defensive apparatuses depends mostly, if not solely, upon the Palestinian political will to reach a compromise and a peace agreement with Israel. That will, alas, seems to be absent from Palestinian considerations.

The last peace proposal offered by Ehud Olmert  would have seen given Palestinians all they claim to demand: Judenrein West Bank, part of Jerusalem, and a symbolic RoR.  They rejected it, and threatened a third, and bloodier Intifada. This should serve as an obvious clue as to what Palestinian aspirations are really about.  It’s not about knocking down a barrier or dismantling settlements or occupation. It’s about violent revenge, and the destruction of Israel. 

So all this talk about “Apartheid” and “justice” are nothing but a foolish ploy, which displays the irresponsible way of using historically-loaded terms to criminalize Israel’s very existence. 500 Montreal artists seem to promote willingly and enthusiastically a false image of what Israeli reality is, confronted by unappeasable Palestinian maximalist rejectionism. 

If we follow the logic that animates the wish expressed in the artists’ letter, the only resolution for the  conflict could be the destruction of Israel, massacres and ethnic cleansing of the Jewish inhabitants of Israel. For there is no way 3-4 million descendants of Palestinian refugees, having been reared and nurtured on 60 years of unmitigated hatred, can be “returned” in peace. What kind of state will emerge from such a move? What will happen to the 6 million Jews who live in Israel? Where will they go in order to accommodate this Palestinian insane fantasy of exclusive rights to the land? The letter remains silent on these issues. 

Furthermore, if there is an “the inalienable right” for refugees to “return to their homes and properties”, why do these activists who celebrate “Israel Apartheid week” with such sanctimonious rage never mention the other refugees, the nearly one million Jews who were forced to flee their homes and abandon their properties in the Arab countries? Do they deserve any less justice than Palestinians? Why so? 

Any genuine peace loving activist out there ought to realize by now that all it needs for Palestinian plight to end is a will to peace, which will translate into a very simple principle: All we Palestinians want is to be Palestinians. We will no longer kill, seek to kill, educate to kill or want to kill any Israeli Jew. Once that paradigm shift takes place, every obstacle that causes Palestinian suffering will fall away like a dry scab from a healed wound. 

Surely this is not such an impossible thing to do?


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