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Israeli Apartheid Week: Political Theater at Its Worst
Posted By Phyllis Chesler On March 9, 2011 @ 5:58 pm In Right to Exist | Comments Disabled
The mob roars its hoarse, ear-splitting chants. “Death to the Jews,” “Death to Zionism,” “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free.” Keffiyas abound: On heads, over faces, around shoulders. The Arab “street” is on the move—in Toronto, Montreal, Amherst, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, St. Louis, Houston, Berkeley, and in Oxford, Belfast, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Zurich, and many other Western cities.
Liberal-fascist westerners are busy “slumming,” all dressed up as presumably persecuted Arabs, but real Arabs are also mob-dancing in the streets of Nablus, Ramallah, Jaffa, Bethlehem, Amman, and Gaza, and in at least five cities in South Africa, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban—yes, Durban, the site of the infamous and sickening United Nations conferences of 2001 and 2009, where, in the name of “anti-racism,” UN members attacked only the Jewish state.
In 2001, the delegation from the United States at Durban withdrew after reviewing the working document which, once again, equated Zionism with Racism. The U.S. boycotted the second Durban conference. In 2009, the European Union delegates withdrew during President Ahmadinejad’s speech, in which he referred to Israel as “totally racist,” and to the Holocaust as an “ambiguous and dubious question.” However, many of the other delegates, from more than 100 countries, remained and applauded him.
The second Durban conference was chaired by a Libyan diplomat.
The lunatics have indeed taken over the asylum—but this time, they are armed with nuclear weapons, surface-to-air missiles, rockets, suicide killers, sarin gas and mustard gas. What’s new is that the supposedly sane people, the truth-tellers, the progressives, the “good people,” have joined them.
Yes, it is that time of year again. March is not only Women’s History Month. It is also the month in which Israeli Apartheid Week is appearing in 55 cities around the world. I use the word “appearing” advisedly. This is political theatre at its worst (or at its diabolical best), the kind of Living Theatre (pace, Judith Malina, I am not writing about your Living Theatre) that is meant to end with a genocidal attack on the Jewish state or, at the very least, its dismantling. There is no such thing as truth, everything is relative, there is no reality, only theatrical subjectivity. One of Berkeley’s Apartheid Week activities is “Resistance Through Rhymes,” a free concert and presentation including various hip-hop artists.
Oh, I am such an alarmist. So selfish, so provincial. The Arab Muslim Middle East is on a major meltdown; even as I write, Daffy Gaddafi is brutally massacring his own people, and here I go again, concerned with the Jews. There are eighty million non-Jews in Egypt alone, and here I am, concerned with the fate of, at most, 13-14 million Jews world-wide, of whom a mere six million live in Israel. Have I no shame?
But Israel is the symbol of what’s best about the West: the rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to dissent, individual rights, human rights, gay rights. Israel even provides a safe haven for Arab women in flight from being honor murdered and gay Arabs from the disputed territories who would otherwise be tortured and murdered either by their families, their neighbors, or their leaders.
Allow me to say, not once, but a hundred times: Israel is not now and has never been an Apartheid or Nazi nation state. It is nothing—absolutely nothing–like the former South Africa. However, Muslims are the world’s largest practitioners of both gender and religious apartheid. You can quote me on that. Please do.
Whenever the innocent are punished, the guilty get away scot free. It is the Muslim world, not Israel, which is the world’s greatest practitioner of gender and religious apartheid. Islam has a long and bloody history of imperialism, colonialism, racism, and slavery. Indeed, ethnic Arab Muslims, in Sudan for example, still keep slaves, usually black African Muslim, Christian, and animist slaves. The West, including our so-called progressives, must understand that the West has not caused such barbarism and misogyny in the Muslim world. Some customs are endemic to cultures which have, so far, refused to evolve.
According to Dr. Catherine Chatterley, the founding director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism:
The first [Israeli Apartheid Week] event was held at the University of Toronto in 2005. The following year, it included Montreal and Oxford. In 2007, it grew to eight cities; in 2008, to 24 cities; in 2009, to 38 cities; last year, to over 40 cities. This year, IAW will be held in over 55 cities worldwide.
Four years after Durban I, in 2005, Israeli Apartheid Week was born in Toronto. That July, 170 Palestinian civil-society organizations released an official call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (better known as BDS) against Israel. The document clearly stated that the call was modelled on the example of the South African struggle against Apartheid.
As with the original anti-apartheid movement, the goal of IAW is explicitly political. And yet the rhetoric of IAW is left open enough to incorporate: (1) critics of Israel who still support a two-state solution; (2) those who support the dismantling of the current Jewish State and its replacement with a single (highly theoretical) secular democratic state; and (3) those who support the destruction of Israel by any means necessary. All three camps are included amongst supporters of IAW and the BDS campaign, and therefore the lines are often blurred between harsh criticism of the state of Israel, outright condemnation of its continued existence, and calls for its eradication. This is a serious problem, and one that appears to be designed quite consciously by IAW and the BDS movement.
In my view, the world-wide political left, especially the New Left, which came of age in the 1960s, cannot abandon its own youthful and exceedingly self-righteous identities. They continue to fight against American capitalism, American racism, and American foreign policy, and refuse to give up the political “high” of fighting South African apartheid as an international movement. That was their Good War, their best Broadway production, and they cannot bear to ring the curtain down.
Please understand: Israeli Apartheid Week takes place both on and off campus and lasts anywhere from four to eight days. For example, this year at Berkeley, the political festivities began on March 1st on campus and featured Susan Abulhawa: “Telling the Palestinian Story.” The programmers proclaim that “Palestinians are not always given the opportunity to share their experiences and their struggle. In Susan’s best seller book, Mornings in Jenin, she expresses fully the human dimension of the Palestinian struggle.”
This is a Big Lie since the pro-Palestinian point of view has flooded our culture not only on campus but in the media, on the internet, at the United Nations, in books, and at every human rights organization.
Other Berkeley Apartheid Week activities are planned at the Memorial Glade Church, the Multi-cultural Community Center of the Student Union, and the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, as well as on campus. The week also features a screening of the documentary “Soweto to Berkeley” which has interviews with South African Bishop Desmund Tutu and Berkeley Free Speech activist, Mario Savio. Their last event will take place on March 9th, and is a panel on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.
I do not think that UC Berkeley is providing its students with an even-handed presentation of both sides. Do you?
It is also important to note that the Muslim Student Association is a key sponsor as well as a group which reflects the vision and does the bidding of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Canada’s Dr. Chatterly believes that Israeli Apartheid Week is the linchpin of a “global strategy to weaken Israel’s connection to the West by delegitimizing Zionism.” This strategy includes boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israelis in all areas “from culture to sport to business to academe” and includes having “Western courts issue arrest warrants for visiting Israeli officials…and (seeks) to justify anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism as legitimate forms of anti-Zionist or anti-racist resistance.”
She is right.
Today, anti-Semitism is not only the province of Islamists or of right-wing racists but is precisely what characterizes the Stalinized and “Palestinianized” western intelligentsia and their trendiest members: Gay liberationists.
Six years ago, then Israeli Minister of Global Anti-Semitism, and Russian refusenik hero, Natan Sharansky, asked me whether I thought that “leftists, feminists, and gay liberationists could be turned around on the question of Israel.” I told him that I did not think this was possible but that I would work on the problem.
The “queers,” including the Jewish “queers,” marched up front in all the anti-Israel pro-Palestinian rallies; they were and still are heavily overrepresented in the Israeli Apartheid Week activities.
True, over the years, but only privately, a few Jewish lesbian or bisexual feminists told me, quietly, that they “wished they had my courage” or that I was “definitely right about Israel.” Lady-like stuff, nothing too loud, too pushy or too Jewish. When Christian lesbian feminists started coming around on this subject they were more outspoken, (still in private), less torn or ambivalent.
In the last year, a few Jewish lesbian feminists, together with StandWithUs, have actually been gathering on a regular basis in Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza, holding an Israeli flag. They have lost all their friends and former political comrades who now stand opposite them holding a Palestinian flag. This was the first and possibly only break within the ranks that I knew about.
Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when New York’s LGBT Center canceled an anti-Israel “Party to End Apartheid” which was scheduled to take place on March 5th, just before Israeli Apartheid Week. This was a small but significant “first” of its kind. The cancellation took place after Michael Lucas, a gay celebrity and “adult entertainment” producer, threatened to organize donors. Nevertheless, on March 5th, LGBT anti-Israel protestors descended on the center en masse, recreating the excessive rhetoric of Act Up, to protest the cancellation. They claimed they had been censored, that free speech was on the line, that LGBT Jews with money had shut down their hate speech party.
The March 5th Israeli Apartheid Week party was planned by a group called Siege Busters, which is working to raise funds for a new flotilla to challenge the Israeli navy’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. (No, they are not working to free Israeli captive Gilad Shalit). Its online petition protesting the cancellation of the anti-Israel “party” has so far garnered more than 1,600 signatures, including those of Joan Nestle, Judith Butler, Matt Forman, and Scott Long, who formerly headed the LGBT desk at Human Rights Watch. However, the majority of signatories do not seem to be “known” intellectuals and activists, which means that the poisoned propaganda has filtered right on down to the people.
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