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  Targeting Israeli Apartheid

COMMENTARY:

Targeting Israeli Apartheid

by Stephen Lendman
Friday, 5 March 2010

Launched in Toronto in 2005, Israeli Apartheid Week is an annual series of university lectures, rallies, multimedia events, cultural performances, films, and demonstrations held in cities worldwide to educate people about the destructiveness of Israeli apartheid.

Reports like the Cape Town, South Africa-based Human Sciences Research Council's (HSRC) May 2009 one titled, "Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid" highlight what many others understand, including former UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, John Dugard, stating in January 2007:

"Israel is clearly in military occupation of the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories). At the same time, elements of the occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law."

Article 7(1)(j) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls apartheid a crime, stating:

"For the purpose of this Statute, (a) 'crime against humanity' means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

The crime of apartheid" includes murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, arbitrary arrest, illegal imprisonment, denial of the right to life and liberty, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and other abusive acts imposed by one group on another.

In 2008, writing for the Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid, Karine MacAllister said in her article titled, "Applicability of the Crime of Apartheid to Israel" that exclusivism is key to understanding the essence of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. It:

"involves or necessitates the denial of the other; of their presence, rights and existence on the land and reconstruction of the past, namely that the land was empty before the advent of Zionist settlement, hence the movement's slogan describing 'a land without people for a people without land.' "

As implemented, Zionism's essence is "a sophisticated legal, social, economic and political regime of racial discrimination that has led to colonialism and apartheid as well as the dispossession and displacement of the Palestinian people." Colonialism flourishes by separating indigenous people from their land and heritage.

Yet Fourth Geneva's Article 49 states:

"Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportation of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of the motive." Neither shall "The Occupying Power....deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

The Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the Apartheid Convention) defines it as:

"similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa (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."

Apartheid is one of the worst forms of racism.

The Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination defines it as:

"any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life."

The 1977 Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (Protocol I) includes among other grave breaches:

"practices of apartheid and other inhuman and degrading practices involving outrages upon personal dignity, based on racial discrimination."

The October 2008 "UNITED AGAINST Apartheid, Colonialism and Occupation DIGNITY & JUSTICE for the Palestinian People" Palestinian Civil Society's Strategic Position Paper for the April 20 - 24, 2009 Durban Review Conference called racism and foreign domination the root causes of Palestinian suffering under decades of "settler-colonialism, occupation and institutionalized racial discrimination."

It affirmed the Durban Declaration's "principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and stress(ed) that states must protect such equality as a matter of highest priority."

It acknowledged that "no derogation from the prohibition of racial discrimination, genocide, the crime of apartheid and slavery is permitted (and recognized them as) crimes against humanity (and) major sources and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (and) wherever and whenever they occurred, they must be condemned and their re-occurrence prevented."

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW)

Launched in Toronto in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, it's an annual series of university lectures, rallies, multimedia events, cultural performances, films, and demonstrations held in cities worldwide to educate people about the nature and destructiveness of Israeli apartheid, and to strengthen the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

From March 1 - 14, 2010, they'll be held in 40 cities:

Abu Dis in the West Bank, Amsterdam, Bard (NY), Berkeley (CA), Beirut, Bethlehem, Bogota, Bologna, Boston, Cape Town, Caracas, Chicago, Connecticut, Dundee (Scotland), Durban, Eastern Cape, Edinburgh, Edmonton, Gaza, Glasgow, Guelph (Canada), Hamilton, Houston, Ireland, Jenin, Johannesburg, Kingston, London (Canada), London (UK), Melbourne, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, Oxford, Peterborough (UK), Pisa, Pretoria, Providence, Puebla (Mexico), Rome, San Francisco, Seattle, Sudbury, Tilburg (The Netherlands), Toronto, Utrecht (The Netherlands), Vancouver, Waterloo (Canada), and Winnipeg.

Its supporters call it an expression of Palestinian solidarity, a call to boycott, divest and impose sanctions, and a demand that Israel be held accountable for decades of oppressive occupation, imperial wars, defiling international laws, expropriating Palestinian land, denying self-determination, the right of return, targeted killings, torture, illegal arrests and incarcerations, and the suppression of equal rights and social, political and economic justice.

They'll also highlight apartheid's environmental costs, the importance of ending a colonial occupation, and a vision for equality, justice and peace.

Media Reports

On March 2, AlJazeera headlined, "Israeli Apartheid Week kicks off," explaining the annual event's "condemnation of the Zionist regime's suppression of the Palestinians" through protests and a host of related speeches and other activities.

Haaretz ran several articles, including Salman Masalha's March 3 commentary headlined, "Israel's apartheid doesn't stop at the West Bank," saying:

Since Israel's founding, it hasn't "kept its promise "to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions."

Instead, it "continues to conduct itself like a Zionist occupation regime on every inch of the land. True," Israeli Arabs have some free movement "in their homeland and even send representatives to the Knesset (with no power) - but this is the sum of the equality that was formulated and promised," in contrast to the OPT where there's none.

On the same day Haaretz's Danna Harman headlined, "Universities across the globe mark Israeli Apartheid Week," highlighting Israeli participants and calling the events "some of the most important (ones) in the Palestine solidarity calendar, according to its organizers.

Harman also quoted Britain's Jewish Board of Deputies' David Katz calling the participation of Jews in the events "atrocious....They are free to do as they please, but it's atrocious. I think they don't understand the analogy they are making....which is insulting to those who suffered under apartheid."

Jewish South African immigrant Benjamin Pogrund agreed saying "Israelis (taking) part in this week should know better."

The Canadian Ontario legislature "unanimously condemned Israeli Apartheid Week, voting for a resolution that denounced the campus events." Will Ottawa, London and Washington be far behind?

Conservative legislator Peter Shulman told Shalom Life, a Toronto Jewish web site: "The use of the phrase 'Israeli Apartheid Week' is about as close to hate speech as one can get without being arrested, and I'm not certain it doesn't actually cross over the line."

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA), a voluntary association of 22 MPs exploiting anti-semitism for political purposes, calls "anti-Zionism....cover for anti-semitism," and perpetrators should be held criminally liable.

In America, The New York Times was silent, but the Washington Post's Richard Cohen, an unabashed Israeli flack, said Israeli Apartheid Week reflects anti-semitism and "imaginary" not "legitimate" grievances "constructed out of lies about the Jewish state....denigrat(ing) the Palestinian cause....Israel has its faults, but it is not motivated by racism."

A Canada National Post commentary headlined, "A festival of bigotry (featuring) rabid expressions of hatred against Israel and its Jewish inhabitants....with extremist speakers whipping crowds into the sort of frenzy one more usually sees in newsreel footage from the streets of Cairo or Gaza City....IAW types don't care about human rights. They care about smearing the Jewish state."

Pro-Israeli organizations denounced IAW, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for one highlighting the "extreme anti-Israel rhetoric....accusations of Israeli racism and apartheid....and allegation that Israel is committing war crimes and genocide against the Palestinian people," the ADL, of course, calling this hateful.

Organizers respond saying "Join us in making 2010 a year of struggle against apartheid and for justice, equality, and peace."


Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His blog is sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on March 5, 2010.
 



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