Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
The Israeli Apartheid week is now at its peak. I write this sentence, and something about these words being put together simply doesn’t fit.
“Israeli Apartheid Week is an annual series of university lectures and rallies held in February or March.” According to the organization “[t]he aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement”. This is what Wikipedia has to say about this official week.
Just so I’ll make sure I understood Wiki correctly: Once a year, people come together in order to make the world hate us even more. They give lectures and protest at Universities for what is instinctively defined as an apartheid system being held towards the non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
It makes me feel helpless, reading about these events and not being able to protect my country. People who don’t have the slightest clue about what’s been going on here feel free to use severe, painful words and make terrible accusations and shocking comparisons. Apartheid? Really? I sometimes wonder if the people who take part in those events ever visited Israel. It seems to me like those people sit at home, watch the news (which, as we all know, is not always so objective) and go on a crusade. Things here are far from perfect, but there is a long way from “imperfect” to “apartheid”. Using such an intense phrase will only make things worse. Not better.
The situation in Israel can replace the existing dictionary definition of the word “complicated”. Every Israeli citizen is well aware of this complexity, and most of us feel clueless every day as the daily paper arrives. Ever since I started my Political Science studies I’ve become even more confused. But with all this mess, one thing I know for sure: the world isn’t black and white. It can’t be. There are bad things that happen all the time, all over the world. Our leaders are forced to make difficult decisions every single day, decisions to which many object (the American army in Afghanistan is in fact a case in point). Not all decisions Israeli leaders made throughout the years were the right ones, and Israel sometimes has too much pride to admit a mistake. But the thing is that these mistakes are hardly being made. Most of the decisions being made by our leaders are logical and rational. Even though they sometimes seem like they should enter the Guinness Book of Records for “most stupid”. The situation here is so fragile that every single move can be perceived as completely wrong to one of the sides of the conflict. This, I’m afraid, can never change.
The problem as I see it is that we don’t give you, the American Jews, the right tools to handle all the hate being held against us. You don’t have all the information we have, and the only thing you can rely on are the international news. I guess this is why I wanted to write this blog so badly- to show you the Israel I know. To give you a different perspective of everything that’s going on here and eventually being twisted into accusations that break my heart.
I had the incredible opportunity to take part of an international conference held in Israel last month and hear Malcolm Hoenlein—one of the most famous Jewish figures in the United States. He said something that I carry with me every day, in every conversation I have with my American friends. He said that the only way we can put an end to this twisted hatred is to work together: Israelis and Jewish diaspora. Only by cooperating we can help migrate the misunderstanding about the situation in Israel. If us, Israelis, put everything on the table for you to get a better understanding, without hiding a thing, and you will spread the word and rationally debate those who make false accusation towards us—only then—we may be able to show the world a different, more correct, perspective.
Nowadays, a powerful counter-force to Israel’s haters at the States doesn’t exist. There are few against many. Israel is a remarkable example for a few against many. We’ve won many battles against bigger, greater armies, just like David was able to beat Goliath. But now we play a different game. We are fighting the Media War, where the recognition you get depends directly on the amount of people supporting your cause. We can still win this war. All we have to do is unite. This is our chance to show the world something different. This is our chance to stand up to false accusations instead of hiding behind them.
My friends and I are powerless to the Israeli Apatheid week and similar events, but you and your friends are not. Standing still is agreeing. Disagree.
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