Monday, March 7, 2011

What About "Arab Apartheid Week"?

by Arsen Ostrovsky

Today, March 7, begins an annual part of the global campaign to delegitimize Israel, as student groups and academics -- on campuses around the world -- hold events marking "Israel Apartheid Week" [IAW].

None of these groups is holding similar events protesting human rights abuses in any number of Arab and Muslim countries -- Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Yemen, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iraq, the Sudan or Jordan -- where people are being jailed, tortured and often killed fighting for their human rights.

The IAW features a series of events, including lectures, films, demonstrations and other activities, which, according to organisers (, is aimed at "raising awareness about Israel's apartheid policies toward Palestinians and gathering support for the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign."

If Israel were an apartheid State, people like Arab Israeli Salim Jurban would not have been elected to Israel's Supreme Court and Ishmael Khaldi, a Bedouin Muslim, would not have been appointed an advisor to Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and then to the position of deputy Consul General of Israel in San Francisco. If Israel were an apartheid state, there would not be 5 different Arab parties and 14 Arab Israeli members of Knesset, some of whom are the most outspoken and harshest critics of Israel, including Haneen Zoabi who participated in the terrorist flotilla in June 2010, and Ahmed Tibi, currently one of the Deputy Speakers of the Knesset.

There are Arab parties in the Israeli Parliament; full Arab voting rights. Arabs are welcome as both physicians and patients in Israeli hospitals, and as both teachers and students in Israeli schools. The only national institution from which they are exempted is the military, so that, if necessary, they should not be required to fight against their own brothers. Israel is clearly not an apartheid state.

Attempts, therefore, to compare Israel, to white South Africa are at best uninformed; at worst, maliciously dishonest and anti-Semitic.

The irony is that in Israel, despite problems in Israel as in any other country, Arabs enjoy more rights, freedoms and liberties than do their neighbours in any number of Middle East countries currently fighting for these very same privileges. As the Muslim Arab Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh repeatedly says (

"Israel is not an apartheid state...Israel is a free and open democratic country. I enjoy living here and I would rather live as a second class citizen in Israel, even though I'm not, than a first class citizen in any Arab country."

The real apartheid today is in places such as Saudi Arabia, where the government totally forbids the public practice of non-Muslim religions, the presence of a Bible there, officially labels both Christians and Jews "unbelievers," and cautions in the Qu'ran Muslims not to befriend Christians or Jews:

"O you who believe! do not take the Jews and Christians for friends: they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people." {Qu'ran 5:51)

"You will see many of them befriending those who disbelieve; certainly evil is that which their souls have sent before for , that Allah became displeased with them and in chastisement shall they abide [ie: Muslim who befriend unbelievers will abide in hell.] " {Qu'ran 5:80}

Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah," {Qu'ran 3:28)

"O you who believe! do not take for intimate friends from among other than your own people… they love what distresses you…." {Qu'ran 3:18)

"O ye who believe! Choose not your fathers nor your bretheren for friends if they take take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith." [ie: Even family members should not be friend if they do not submit to Islam.} (Qu'ran 9:23) *

Also in the Qu'ran, Muhammed curses the Jews and turns them into pigs and monkeys. (Suras 2:62-65, 5:59-60, and 7:166)

Iran routinely executes, tortures and persecutes Baha'is, Sunnis and Kurdish minorities.

Turkey continues to harass and persecute its Alevis, Kurds, Zoroastrians and other minorities. How many Christians or Jews, for example, are in its government?

In both Saudi Arabia and Iran, women and homosexuals are stripped of their rights as the United Nations grants Saudi Arabia a seat on the UN Human Rights Council and Iran with a seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

In Lebanon, Palestinians are banned from working in many professions.

Egypt continues to persecute its Coptic Christians and torch their churches.

Jordan last year revoked the citizenship of thousands of Jordanian Palestinians, and still denies citizenship to Jews.

Iraq continues to persecute and murder members of its Christian Assyrian population.

Yet Israel is the only country constantly to be singled out for opprobrium by groups such as the IAW. If its organizers were truly interested in human rights, going from worst to best, wouldn't a better starting point be to hold an Arab Apartheid Week?

The main weapon in the campaign to brand Israel an apartheid state is the Boycott Divestment Sanctions [BDS] Campaign, which seeks to ostracize the Jewish state by severing all ties with it -- economic, diplomatic, cultural, academic among others.

Marwan Barghouti for example, who is the founder and one of the leaders of the BDS Campaign (and incidentally, also a PhD student of ethics at Tel Aviv University), has said ( that the Palestinian refugees right of return to Israel is the "litmus test of morality for anyone suggesting a just and enduring solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict." First, the Palestinians' claim to a right of return is hotly disputed - where in history has one been able to defect to countries that have initiated four wars in sixty years against Israel; then, when these countries lose those wars that they have initiated, say that one would like to return and expect such a choice to be automatically accepted? The relocation of some 4 million plus Palestinians to Israel would clearly entail a demographic death of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state – rather than have two states, a Jewish Israel and a Palestinian State, you would have a Palestinian state displacing Israel, a point that is not lost on Barghouti, who says (

"I clearly do not buy into the two-state solution...[I]f the refugees were to return, you would not have a two-state solution, you would have a Palestine next to Palestine, rather than a Palestine next to Israel."

Other BDS leaders are equally forthright about the aims of their movement. Ronnie Kasrils for example says ( "BDS will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine." And Ahmed Koor, another leader, proudly proclaims ( "Ending the occupation doesn't mean anything if it doesn't mean upending the Jewish state itself… BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state."

Koor goes even further, clarifying that: "BDS is not another step on the way to the final showdown; BDS is The Final Showdown."

It [is] difficult to overlook the similarities between this "The Final Showdown" and Hitler's "Final Solution." Whereas Hitler's Final Solution sought to bring about the end of the Jewish people, the BDS Campaign's Final Showdown, by endorsing a one-state solution and return of Palestinian refugees, seeks to bring about the end of the State of Israel as the Jewish state.

The leaders of the apartheid and BDS movements may talk "peace," "justice" and "ending the occupation," however, their real goal seems to be the vilification, delegitimization, and obliteration of Israel as a Jewish state by branding it the pariah of the international community. From their statements, their goal is not to advance Palestinian rights, but to deny and strip Israel of its rights.

The IAW and BDS supporters do nothing to advance the cause of peace or the well-being of the Palestinians. But then again, has that ever really been the goal of the IAW and BDS movements?

See also Qu'ran 53:29; 3:85; 3:10; 7:44; and 1:5-7 , as wells as from the Hadith 1:417; 41:4815; 41:4832; 59:572; and Ishaq 262 and 252.

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Arsen Ostrovsky

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