Updated on March 16, 2011
Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) 2011 will be held in cities and on college campuses worldwide during the March 7 – 20 period (March 21- 26 in the UK). This anti-Israel activity, based on the campaign to falsely label Israel as an “apartheid state”, is part of a larger “Durban strategy” that was devised at the 2001 UN Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.
The conference included a virulently antisemitic NGO Forum, which adopted a Final Declaration accusing Israel of “racist crimes against humanity including ethnic cleansing, acts of genocide.” This document called for “a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state...the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel.”
Since 2001, the Durban strategy has been implemented by NGOs and activists through BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) against Israel and “lawfare” cases against Israeli officials. IAW is another element of these ongoing campaigns, as are similar programs in UN venues, “BDS Day of Action” (March 30), and other anti-Israel events.
As the quotes below demonstrate, the discredited NGOs and activists involved in IAW use the rhetoric of discrimination to delegitimize Israel, exposing the façade that concern for human rights and peace drive their campaign. They reject “two-state” approaches to the conflict and oppose the very existence of Israel:
the terms of reference of the current purposed settlements such the Roadmap Plan and the Arab Peace Initiative do not meet the minimum rights of our people but only perpetuate the arrogance of the Zionists in their attempt to blur national rights, especially the right of refugees to return to their original homes. (emphasis added)
while some Israelis do employ the term colonialism or apartheid, they limit these terms’ application to the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, not to historic Palestine which now encompasses the state of Israel. Such a formulation sidesteps the issue of the right of return of Palestinian refugees (emphasis added)
NGO speakers at IAW 2011 events include officials from:
- “Occupation 101”
- “This Palestinian Life”, featuring video from B’Tselem
- “Israel vs Israel”, featuring interviews with Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence, and Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights
NGO endorsers and sponsors include:
Alternative Information Center (AIC) – Shir Hever, economic researcher at AIC, is scheduled to speak in Amsterdam (March 8), Tilburg (March 11), and Utrecht (March 12), as part of IAW in the Netherlands. The lecture, presented at all three locations, is entitled “Could the Economic Policies of Israel Be Considered a Form of Apartheid?” Hever gave the same lecture during IAW in 2010, and in many other venues.
AIC is one of the most radical NGOs in the region. It has accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, and has published articles minimizing the actions of convicted murderer Samir Kuntar (freed in a 2008 exchange with Hezbollah) and the bulldozer attacks in Jerusalem of July 2008. Co-founder of AIC Michael Warschawski asserted that “one has to unequivocally reject the very idea (and existence) of a Jewish state, whatever will be its borders.” (The Haifa Conference for the Right of Return, June 2008). Hever, speaking on behalf of AIC in an interview, claimed that “Israel is a kind of factory for repression and mechanisms of repression that are being sold to other countries in the world.” [Click here for more information on AIC -- PRINTABLE FACTSHEET HERE]
Adalah-NY – On March 9, Adalah-NY activist Randa Wahbe will discuss the “history of Palestine” and the “importance of BDS,” and on March 11, Adalah-NY is organizing “How Now BDS? Media, Politics and Queer Activism,” featuring John Greyson and Judith Butler. Both events are being held in New York. Also on March 11, Adalah-NY co-founder Riham Barghouti will speak in Toronto on “State of the Siege, State of the Struggle: The case for Boycott Divestment, Sanctions.”
Adalah-NY accuses Israel of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “collective punishment,”, and “indiscriminate bombing that targets civilians.” It defends Hamas’ use of firing rockets from residential areas, referring to attacks from Gaza as “when Palestinians resist Israel's human rights violations,” accuses Israel of using “tear gas to kill and maim unarmed protesters,” and states that Israel’s security barrier is “separating the West Bank into ghettoes.” Adalah-NY is active in the BDS movement against Israel, urging international artists to boycott Israel and advocating financial sanctions.
Barghouti compares Israel to American slavery, South African apartheid, and the Jewish Holocaust, stating, “These colonial, racist policies were abolished because people had said, enough. Someday soon, that will happen with the Israeli colonization and racism that has plagued Palestine these past 60 years.” [Click here for more information on Riham Barghouti -- PRINTABLE FACTSHEET HERE]
Al-Awda – The Palestinian Right to Return Coalition – In New York, Said Shehadeh from Al-Awda NY will facilitate a discussion on “apartheid in Palestine and the parallels to Apartheid South Africa” on March 3. Al-Awda NY co-founder Lamis Deek will speak on March 4 about the recent Arab protests and their implications for Palestinians, on March 9 about the “history of Palestine” and the “importance of BDS”, and in Connecticut on March 27 after a film screening. Al-Awda co-founder Mazen Qumsiyeh will speak in Boston on March 30 on the “Goldstone Report Panel”, and will appear on a book tour delivering a lecture “Popular Resistance in Palestine” in Colorado (March 6, 7, 8), Cleveland (March 16, 17), and Connecticut (March 23, 24).
Al Awda justifies Palestinian resistance against Israel, and its general coordinator Salman Abu Sitta defends Hamas rockets, saying “they are throwing their home-made projectiles on their own land, at its occupiers, in a symbolic gesture to assert their right for their homes in the occupied land.” He blames Israel for launching the Six-Day War (1967) “to grab more Arab lands.” Al Awda states that “the racist state of Israel… engages in a genocidal project to eliminate the indigenous Arab people of Palestine,” and claims that the problem of Palestinian refugees is the result of Israel’s “systematic policy of ethnic dispossession and elimination.” Qumsiyeh accuses Israeli soldiers of acting “like Nazi guards in various situations,” and refers to the Palestinians as the “victims of Israeli colonialism” and the “apartheid wall.” Qumsiyeh is a proponent of a “one-state solution.”
Anarchists Against the Wall (AATW) – On March 5, a fundraiser for AATW will be held in Boston featuring Noam Lekach and Elinor Amit. AATW calls the IDF a “terrorist organization” that commits “war crimes.” An AATW activist described the security barrier as “one of the greatest threats the Palestinian population has known over the last century... which is to make life so appalling for the Palestinian people that they will be left with one choice: move out.”
AATW’s legal troubles include founder Yonatan Pollak’s multiple convictions for illegal assembly; he was jailed in 2011 for violating the terms of his probation. In July 2007, the group appealed for donations to help pay $40,000 in legal expenses for over 60 indictments.
Lekach is heavily involved in BDS efforts against Israel. He has: accused Israel of “severe human rights violations,” and urged the German government to “stop providing the weapons which facilitate these violations”; organized an event denouncing US military aid to Israel while calling for endorsement of the BDS; and protested Israel’s acceptance into the OECD. [Click here for more information on Noam Lekach -- PRINTABLE FACTSHEET HERE] Amit accuses Israel of “continuous de-humanization of Palestinians as having inferior rights than Jews,” participates in BDS activities, and claims Israel is “fascist.” She protested the arrest of Tali Fahima, who was convicted for aiding a Palestinian terrorist. [Click here for more information on Elinor Amit -- PRINTABLE FACTSHEET HERE]
Electronic Intifada (EI) – Ali Abunimah, executive editor of EI, is speaking in Montreal on March 9 about “One Country: A Bold Proposal to end the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” and in Toronto on March 11 on “State of the Siege, State of the Struggle: The case for Boycott Divestment, Sanctions.” EI promotes an anti-Israel agenda with news articles and commentary. It publishes articles promoting the BDS effort against Israel.
EI submissions use apartheid rhetoric, and accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing, Judaizing Jerusalem, and genocide. Nigel Parry, co-founder of EI, justifies Palestinian violence against Israeli settlers. Laurie King-Irani, another co-founder claimed in EI that the September 11 attacks were “the biggest gift, wrapped up in silk ribbons and presented on a golden platter, that [the pro-Israel lobby] could ever hope to receive.” An EI article entitled “The Gaza genocide” compares Israeli actions in Gaza to the Holocaust, describing them as “a slow and calculated genocide – a genocide through more calibrated, long-term means... In many ways, this is a more sinister genocide, because it tends to be overlooked.” [Click here for more information on Electronic Intifada -- PRINTABLE FACTSHEET HERE]
Abunimah has accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, calls Israeli settlements “Jim Crow colonies,” refers to the Shin Bet (Israel’s General Security Service) as a “death squad,” and calls people of color “schwarzers.” He says Zionism “is one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today,” claiming that it “dehumanizes its victims, denies their history, and has a cult-like worship of ethnoracial purity” (Twitter; October 26, 2010). He refers to Israel’s self-defense policy in Gaza as an “attempted genocide.” Abunimah uses Holocaust references in his comments about Israel, calling Gaza a “ghetto for surplus non-Jews,” comparing the Israeli press to “Der Sturmer,” and claiming that “Supporting Zionism is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.” He also defends Hamas’ policy of illegally blocking Red Cross visits to Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. [Click here for more information on Ali Abunimah -- PRINTABLE FACTSHEET HERE]
International Solidarity Movement (ISM) – Huwaida Arraf, co-founder of ISM, is speaking in Miami on March 1, and in Edmonton on March 14, on “International Solidarity and the Palestinian Freedom Struggle.” ISM encourages activists to take “direct action” that often places them in danger and in direct confrontations with Israeli Defense Forces. It has endangered the lives of many of its activists, including American Rachel Corrie and Brit Tom Hurndall, both of whom were killed while participating in ISM activities. According to an official Israeli report, “ISM members take an active part in illegal and violent actions against IDF soldiers. At times, their activity… is under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organizations.” In 2002, ISM attempted to help terrorists barricading themselves in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and two ISM activists hid senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya before he was arrested in 2003. [Click here for more information on ISM -- PRINTABLE FACTSHEET HERE]
Arraf is the co-author of an article that stated, “The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent... Yes, people will get killed and injured,” but these deaths are “no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action, they would be considered shaheed Allah.” [Click here for more information on Huwaida Arraf -- PRINTABLE FACTSHEET HERE]
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) On March 11, PACBI co-founder Riham Barghouti will be speaking in Toronto on “State of the Siege, State of the Struggle: The case for Boycott Divestment, Sanctions” (see above). PACBI is one of the leading bodies in global BDS activity. It falsely refers to Israel as an “apartheid state” with “racial exclusivity,” alleging that “the apartheid character has been part of the design of Israel since its inception,” and claims that “resistance in all its forms is a legitimate right” of Palestinians. PACBI accuses Israel of “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” and “genocidal policy,” and calls Gaza a “concentration camp.” PACBI calls on international artists to boycott Israel, and advocates for the isolation of Israeli academic institutions. It dismisses efforts of “peacemakers” who promote mutual understanding and civil dialogue as “deceptive” and “false hypocrisies.” [Click here for more information on PACBI -- PRINTABLE FACTSHEET HERE]
“Who Profits” – a project of Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) – Dalit Baum, founder of Who Profits and board member of Zochrot, will speak in New York on the topic “Economic Activism for Palestine: who are the main profiteers, and how can we change the bottom line?” CWP is also co-organizing an event “Life and Struggle in Apartheid” on March 16 in Jaffa. Baum is an advocate of BDS, and trains activists to lobby the American government against Israel. She claims that Israeli weapons manufacturers “praise their products as being tested on Palestinians.” She has also raised funds for Anarchists Against the Wall.
Who Profits aims at “exposing companies and corporations involved in the occupation” in order to target them with boycotts, and views Israeli companies as “having a central role in the perpetuation of the current unlawful and unjust conditions.” It is an initiative of Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), an Israeli NGO which lobbied the British government in 2009 to “Enable Prosecution of Israeli War Criminals.” CWP is a leader in the global BDS movement, involved in boycott campaigns against Ahava beauty products and Agrexco produce, and lobbies foreign governments to stop investing in Israeli companies. [Click here for more information on CWP -- PRINTABLE FACTSHEET HERE]
Baum is also a board member of Zochrot, an Israeli NGO whose stated mission is to “raise awareness” among Israelis of the “Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948.” In a joint submission to the UN Human Rights Council for Israel’s Universal Periodical Review, Zochrot accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “forcible displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people.”
Screening of NGO films
The films “Israel vs Israel” and “This Palestinian Life” are being shown in Montreal on March 14. Both are described as portraying “the Palestinian and Israeli response to apartheid.” “Israel vs Israel” features interviews with Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence, and Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights. The website of “This Palestinian Life” states that “the Israeli army protects Jewish settlers as they attack school children, prevent Palestinian shepherds from tending to their flocks, and bulldoze ancient olive groves,” and it seeks to portray the “daily, systematic violence inflicted by the Israeli state upon the Palestinian people and their land.” It also features video footage from B’Tselem.
“Occupation 101” is being screened in Edmonton on March 14. It is presented as a “comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the never ending controversy.” The film interviews numerous NGO officials, among them: Rabbi Arik Ascherman (Rabbis for Human Rights), Peter Boukaert (Human Rights Watch), Jeff Halper (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions), Yael Stein (B’Tselem), and Dr. Iyad Sarraj (Gaza Community Mental Health Programme).
NGO Endorsers and Sponsors
Friends of Sabeel-Colorado – Friends of Sabeel is a sponsor of IAW Denver. Sabeel is a Palestinian Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, which uses select biblical quotations to promote antisemitic theology, stating “Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him… The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily.” Regarding suicide bombers, Sabeel notes “If Israel labels them as terrorists, they are, after all, the product of its own making.” The organization also calls for a one-state solution, saying the “ideal and best solution has always been to envisage ultimately a bi-national state in Palestine-Israel” and advocates the return for Palestinian refugees into Israel.
Independent Jewish Voices (IVJ) – IJV is endorsing IAW 2011 in Edmonton, Ottawa, and Toronto. It claims to represent “Jews across Canada who are committed to social justice and universal human rights.” IJV is involved in BDS efforts, calling on Canada to “cease its one-sided and uncritical support for Israel,” and participating in BDS “flashmobs” outside Israeli businesses operating in Canada. It has accused JNF of “collaborat[ing in] a pogrom” against Israeli Bedouins, and protests against Israel celebrations in Canada, saying “we can’t celebrate ethnic cleansing, occupation, race laws and torture.”
Diana Ralph, IJV co-chair, stated, “I think there's lots of evidence that suicide bombings and violence coming from Palestinians are often planned, and directly provoked, by the Israeli government.” She argued that the Sept. 11 attacks were an American and Israeli conspiracy to “seize control of Eurasia, and thereby the entire world,” and that the “‘war on terror’ is a concept modeled on Israel’s assaults on Palestinians to provide a cover for campaigns of territorial conquest.” (IJV denied that her comments represent IJV’s views.) Ralph also provided financial assistance to a suspected Islamic terrorist who was allegedly part of a forgery ring tied to Al Qaeda.
Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) – MECA is sponsoring IAW Berkley. MECA founder and Executive Director Barbara Lubin wrote “I think that the Jewish State is racist to the core,” referred to the 1948 “ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population,” and wrote that “[t]he concept of ‘Jewish morality’ is truly dead. We can be fascists, terrorists, and Nazis just like everybody else.” In an interview, MECA Director of Gaza Projects, Dr. Mona El-Farra, explained that MECA refused USAID funding because it came with the condition that they promise “not [to] give any help or any aid whatsoever for the families of the militiamen, or their relatives, or anyone related to ‘terrorist attacks’” because “we consider it resistance.” It provides direct support for radical and highly-political NGOs such as Badil, Addameer, and the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. [Click here for more information on MECA]
Middle East Crisis Committee (MECC) – MECC is a supporter IAW Connecticut. “We’re a group of activists that organized in 1982 in New Haven, CT during Israel's invasion of Lebanon. MECC produces a weekly TV and webshow called The Struggle, organizes in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and is part of the broader peace movement.” Merged with Al-Awda-Ct, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition (CT). MECC Explaining the history of the conflict, MECC claims “the Zionist movement saw partition of Palestine as just a step to taking over all of Palestine,” ignoring Jewish acceptance and Arab rejection of Partition. Calls on Americans to “Refuse to buy Israeli goods; Boycott Israeli speakers/artists except human rights activists; Call on labor unions to sell Israel Bonds.”
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) – SAIA is the organizing group of IAW Toronto, and is supporting IAW Ottawa. It is a committee of the larger Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA). The group works “to end all Canadian complicity in this apartheid state.” It is active in BDS, encouraging boycotts of Canadian businesses supportive of Israel, and advocates “lawfare” against Israeli officials, saying “Tzipi Livni should be arrested and tried in criminal courts for her role in Israel’s crimes against humanity.”
Westchester Peace Action Committee (WESPAC) – WESPAC is the fiscal sponsor of IAW in New York. Its stated purpose is to “give a human face to those who would otherwise be unrecognized victims of war, injustice and environmental degradation.” It claims that “military occupation is a cause of violence and terrorism, not vice versa.” WESPAC is involved in the BDS movement, and is the 501(c)(3) organization which funnels donations to Adalah-NY (see above). A local legislator in White Plains described a WESPAC fundraiser as “demonstrat[ing] anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred, as well as tributes to terrorists.” CEO Nada Khader claims the US should “end all aid to Israel, diplomatic, economic, military… to this apartheid, racist state.” [Click here for more information on WESPAC]