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When the Israeli Apartheid Week takes place in Israel, there’s a lot for us to worry about

by Noga Gur-Arieh

March 4, 2014 | 8:45 am

Last week, the 10th annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) launched in over 200 cities worldwide. This international series of events which includes rallies, lectures, cultural performances, film screenings and multimedia displays — exposed many people who are clueless about Israel and the area with a pile of lies, marking it as an apartheid state.

The people behind Israeli Apartheid Week are taking the very politically and historically charged word “apartheid” and trying to convince people into believing it is, in fact, the simple answer to the complicated Israeli-Palestinian relationship. By using “human rights” rhetoric, IAW seeks to raise awareness about Israel's alleged apartheid policies towards the Palestinians and build support for the growing "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" (BDS) movement.

Truth is, the people behind IAW want to hurt the Jewish people. Much like BDS activists, they are practicing modern-day anti-Semitism in disguise. They do not wish to help the Palestinians, and the most recent proof of that is their call to shut down the SodaStream factory operating in the West Bank, even though it hires Palestinians alongside Jewish employees at equal conditions and salaries. Boycotting SodaStream, much like many other Israeli companies, means the Palestinians are losing their jobs. Therefore, what IAW participants want is to delegitimize Israel — not in the name of peace, but in the name of hate. They want Israel to cease to exist not because they want a Palestinian state to coexist, but because they believe the Jewish people have no right to exist. 

In the time that has passed since the last IAW, the BDS movement suffered a major blow when its rotten foundations began to crumble. The true nature of the people behind this movement — who have not once been willing to face facts that interrupted their lies — was exposed, and their credibility called into question. Reason finally began rising above bigotry as more and more people said “no” to the cheap anti-Israel propaganda (You can read more about this year's BDS and IAW failure here.)

Unfortunately, there was a big, dark cloud hovering above this victory of truth. On Wednesday, it was reported that students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem conducted an anti-Israel exhibit, one of the most popular forms of propaganda during IAW. It was reported that a group of students put up photos in a central hallway, depicting the IDF negatively, alongside inciting texts defining Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers as “hunters of freedom,” calling Israel “Palestine” and the IDF an “occupying army.” According to the report, “one particularly colorful photo text describes the picture as being of a mother crying for her Shahid (martyr) son who was killed by the ‘occupation army.’ Sections of the Arab text declare that ‘Palestine will be liberated.’”

Freedom of speech is one of the most important aspects of a democratic regime. Political disagreements nurture us as citizens of a democratic country. But when people living in a democratic country fight against it, thus nurturing those who seek to destroy it, the result is worse than any outside group calling it names. Division on such a fundamental level is the key to the destruction of any society. When incitement burns in the eyes of people wishing their own country, who provides them with all their necessities, to cease from existing — the danger is more actual than ever.

One of the biggest, strongest weapons we had against the BDS movement was our unity as people when facing the outside world. Every person who lives in Israel knows the truth. We all know that while things here may be complicated, what we have here is very far from being an apartheid regime. When people who wish to change some of the policies here choose to jump on the bandwagon and add to the pile of oh-so-popular lies, they hurt us as a collective and — most importantly — hurt themselves and their chances for a better life. Should the BDS movement ever reach its goal, our inner political issues, led by questions regarding the Jewish nature of Israel, would no longer matter. Those who support this policy and those who oppose it would all be thrown into economic despair, finding themselves in a state without the inner strength to work toward any kind of deal with its neighbors.

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