Across many Canadian campuses, and indeed around the world, March is the month for “Israeli Apartheid Week” activities. The international movement appears to be growing. Israel’s defenders are fighting back claiming that they are “anti-Semitic”. Is it true? Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international series of events that seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Here is the 2015 IAW schedule by country
- UK: February 23-28
- US: Feb 26-March 12
- Europe: March 2-9
- Palestine: March 1-8
- South Africa: March 2-8
- Ireland: March 7-14
- Canada: March 9-14
- South America: March
IAW events are routinely decried by Israel’s supporters as “antisemitic”. Last week in the Canadian Parliament, Hamilton area MP David Sweet told Parliamentarians that he had been shocked by “anti-Semitic’ IAW events on McMaster Campus, though he did not specify what he found “antisemitic” about them.
This accusation may influence people who haven’t attended any IAW events, or who haven’t been on a campus for several years. However, in my personal experience, having attended IAW events in Ottawa over several years at both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, there was absolutely nothing antisemitic about them. (Unless, of course, you define criticism of Israel as inherently “antisemitic”. In that case…..)
In fact, people of my generation would easily compare IAW events to the anti-Vietnam War “teach-ins” that were organized on campuses across the US and Canada during the ‘60’s. At the time, they were similarly criticized by supporters of the US intervention in that country.
Israeli Apartheid Week events in Ottawa take place at Carleton University all next week. They include sessions comparing the Palestinian experience to that of Canadian aboriginals, a film about how the University of Berkley decided to divest from Israeli firms, and a session on Palestinian women prisoners held in Israeli detention. IAW events are also taking place in many other Canadian cities. To find out whether there are events in your city, check the IAW website.
See for yourself if they are really antisemitic!!
If MP David Sweet would like to take another look, information about IAW McMaster’s 2015 program can be found here.