by Jared Thompson | UWMPost.com | March 12, 2012
Is Israeli apartheid real? No. This month on college campuses across the U.S., students will be gathering for the annual Israeli Apartheid Week, a yearly event condemning Israel’s “apartheid system.” BDS or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, is a group who seeks to commend itself as liberators of Palestine, when the real goal is to delegitimize Israel. As Israel is a free democratic state in which Arabs and Jews enjoy equal rights, BDS is anti-Semitic to challenge its legitimacy when many Muslim states exist unchallenged by the world at large. If Palestinians are serious about their claims of commitment to peace, then they should start now with actions of real democracy, not terrorist tactics.
The original BDS movement began in 1948 when Arab states began a pact not to buy any goods manufactured by the Jews in Palestine. For those who have not studied the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Grand Mufti Haj Amin Husseini led this movement. The Grand Mufti was also rather close politically to Adolf Hitler during the Holocaust, meeting with Hitler in November 1941 in the hopes of persuading him to extend the Nazis’ anti-Jewish program to the Arab world.
Not only does BDS unjustly brand Israel as an apartheid state, this group spreads lies, disinformation and propaganda in order to demonize Israel. Apartheid refers most commonly to the apartheid of South Africa by Caucasians, in which native South Africans were systematically oppressed, denied citizenship and voting rights. Today in Israel, although Jews represent the majority, Palestinian Arabs hold full citizenship, rights to vote and have been full-fledged members of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) since the first elections in 1948. The claims that Israel practices apartheid against Palestinians are false.
BDS claims that their goal as a human rights organization is to seek equality for all Palestinians and their rights under international law. Their demands reflect their desire for Israel to meet three obligations: firstly, ending its occupation and colonization returning to June 1967 borders and dismantling the wall separating the disputed territories from the rest of Israel; secondly, recognizing the rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and finally, respecting the rights of Palestinians to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
BDS condemns the restrictions placed on Palestinians living in the disputed territories. These restrictions are a direct result of terrorism and attacks on Israelis both from neighboring countries and from Palestinian terror groups within the territories themselves. It should not be surprising that Israelis want to stop rocket attacks and suicide bombers, which regularly kill innocent civilians. Such attacks have led to the construction of the aforementioned security fence. Unless the killings stop, how can peace be attained and the Palestinians “freed?”
The demand for recognition of Arab rights has been addressed previously. Arab citizens of Israel do indeed enjoy equal rights, as do all Israeli citizens. The only difference is that Arabs are exempt from the mandatory military service requirement.
The assertions made by the BDS movement have a convenient way of thinly disguising anti-Semitism. While their concern about the present and the future of the Palestinian people is both legitimate and warranted, these concerns do not justify for categorically delegitimizing and demonizing another people. Israeli Apartheid Week does nothing more than condemn Israel for its right to exist and enlist others in their cause of supporting terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. IAW simply uses apartheid to appeal to the public to endorse anger and hate.