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Opinion

Israeli Apartheid Week: a ritual of discrimination and incitement against Israel

Israeli Apartheid Week doesn’t seek Middle East peace. It seeks to harm the Jewish people by taking from them the only land where they are not a minority.

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It should go without saying that, as much as any other national group, the Jewish people have the right to a nation state. And history has shown that they need this state perhaps more than any other people. To advocate for artificially forcing Jews into minority status in Israel, then, is more than misguided. It is immoral. 

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As if this goal is not reprehensible enough, the Apartheid Week organizers promote their extreme views using discrimination and falsehoods. 

The discrimination is apparent in the organizers’ Invitation for Participation, which, just one paragraph after expressing opposition to Jewish national self-determination, describes self-determination for the Palestinian people as an “inalienable right.” Another clear sign of Apartheid Week’s discrimination is the strange singular focus on Israel, the only Middle Eastern country ranked as “free” by the Freedom House, despite the fact that many of its “not free” neighbors flagrantly oppress women, gays, and religious minorities – see, for example, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The most glaring Apartheid Week falsehood is its title. Palestinian citizens of Israel vote, serve as parliamentarians, government ministers, and Supreme Court justices. Jews and Arabs, despite the inevitable suspicions that come from a history of conflict, mix freely whether on the beaches of Tel Aviv or in the markets of Jerusalem. With apartheid like that, who needs liberal democracy?

Benjamin Pogrund, who moved to Israel after a career as an anti-apartheid journalist in South Africa, has addressed the use of the word apartheid as “an epithet of abuse” for Israel. “If true,” he wrote, “it would be a grave charge, justifying international condemnation and sanctions. But it isn’t true. Anyone who knows what apartheid was, and who knows Israel today, is aware of that.”

Civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., who devoted his life to fighting oppression, addressed the more fundamental point. Only weeks before his untimely death, King said, “I see Israel, and never mind saying it, as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy.”

Gilead Ini is a senior research analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

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