Anti-Apartheid Week – 1

How About A Real Campaign Against Abuses?
IAW_2010poster_Toronto.jpgEvery year at about this time, radical Islamic students—aided by radical anti-Israel professors—hold an event they call “Israel Apartheid Week.” During this week, they try to persuade students on campuses around the world to demonize Israel as an apartheid regime. Most students seem to ignore the rantings of these extremists, but some naive students seem to take them seriously. Some pro-Israel and Jewish students claim that they are intimidated when they try to respond to these untruths. As one who strongly opposes any censorship, my solution is to fight bad speech with good speech, lies with truth and educational malpractice with real education.
Accordingly, I support a “Middle East Apartheid Education Week” to be held at universities throughout the world. It would be based on the universally accepted human rights principle of “the worst first.” In other words, the worst forms of apartheid being practiced by Middle East nations and entities would be studied and exposed first. Then the apartheid practices of other countries would be studied in order of their seriousness and impact on vulnerable minorities.
Under this principle, the first country studied would be Saudi Arabia. That tyrannical kingdom practices gender apartheid to an extreme, relegating women to an extremely low status. Indeed, a prominent Saudi Imam recently issued a fatwa declaring that anyone who advocates women working alongside men or otherwise compromises with absolute gender apartheid is subject to execution. The Saudis also practice apartheid based on sexual orientation, executing and imprisoning gay and lesbian Saudis. Finally, Saudi Arabia openly practices religious apartheid. It has special roads for “Muslims only.” It discriminates against Christians, refusing them the right to practice their religion openly. And needless to say, it doesn’t allow Jews the right to live in Saudi Arabia, to own property or even (with limited exceptions) to enter the country. Now that’s apartheid with a vengeance.


The second entity on any apartheid list would be Hamas, which is the de facto government of the Gaza Strip. Hamas too discriminates openly against women, gays, Christians. It permits no dissent, no free speech, and no freedom of religion.
Every single Middle East country practices these forms of apartheid to one degree or another. Consider the most “liberal” and pro-American nation in the area, namely Jordan. The Kingdom of Jordan, which the King himself admits is not a democracy, has a law on its books forbidding Jews from becoming citizens or owning land. Despite the efforts of its progressive Queen, women are still de facto subordinate in virtually all aspects of Jordanian life.
Iran, of course, practices no discrimination against gays, because its President has assured us that there are no gays in Iran. In Pakistan, Sikhs have been executed for refusing to convert to Islam, and throughout the Middle East, honor killings of women are practiced, often with a wink and a nod from the religious and secular authorities.
Every Muslim country in the Middle East has a single, established religion, namely Islam, and makes no pretense of affording religious equality to members of other faiths. That is a brief review of some, but certainly not all, apartheid practices in the Middle East.
Now let’s turn to Israel. The secular Jewish state of Israel recognizes fully the rights of Christians and Muslims and prohibits any discrimination based on religion (except against Conservative and Reform Jews, but that’s another story!) Muslim and Christian citizens of Israel (of which there are more than a million) have the right to vote and have elected members of the Knesset, some of whom even oppose Israel’s right to exist. There is an Arab member of the Supreme Court, an Arab member of the Cabinet and numerous Israeli Arabs in important positions in businesses, universities and the cultural life of the nation. A couple of years ago I attended a concert at the Jerusalem YMCA at which Daniel Barrenboim conducted a mixed orchestra of Israeli and Palestinian musicians. There was a mixed audience of Israelis and Palestinians, and the man sitting next to me was an Israeli Arab, who is the culture minister of the State of Israel. Can anyone imagine that kind of concert having taking place in apartheid South Africa, or in apartheid Saudi Arabia?
There is complete freedom of dissent in Israel and it is practiced vigorously by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. And Israel is a vibrant democracy.
What is true of Israel proper, including Israeli Arab areas, is not true of the occupied territories. Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza several years ago, only to be attacked by Hamas rockets. Israel maintains its occupation of the West Bank only because the Palestinians walked away from a generous offer of statehood on 97% of the West Bank, with its capital in Jerusalem and with a $35 billion compensation package for refugees. Had it accepted that offer by President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, there would be a Palestinian state in the West Bank. There would be no separation barrier. There would be no roads restricted to Israeli citizens (Jews, Arabs and Christians.) And there would be no civilian settlements. I have long opposed civilian settlements in the West Bank, as many, perhaps most Israelis, do. But to call an occupation, which continues because of the refusal of the Palestinians to accept the two-state solution, “Apartheid” is to misuse that word. As those of us who fought in the actual struggle of apartheid well understand, there is no comparison between what happened in South Africa and what is now taking place on the West Bank. As Congressman John Conyers, who helped found the congressional Black caucus, well put it:

“[Applying the word “Apartheid” to Israel] does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong.”

The current “Israel Apartheid Week” on universities around the world, by focusing only on the imperfections of the Middle East’s sole democracy, is carefully designed to cover up far more serious problems of real apartheid in Arab and Muslim nations. The question is why do so many students identify with regimes that denigrate women, gays, non-Muslims, dissenters, environmentalists and human rights advocates, while demonizing a democratic regime that grants equal rights to women (the chief justice and speaker of the Parliament of Israel are women), gays (there are openly gay generals in the Israeli Army), non-Jews (Muslims and Christians serve in high positions in Israel) and dissenters, (virtually all Israelis dissent about something). Israel has the best environmental record in the Middle East, it exports more life saving medical technology than any country in the region and it has sacrificed more for peace than any country in the Middle East. Yet on many college campuses democratic, egalitarian Israel is a pariah, while sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, terrorist Hamas is a champion. There is something very wrong with this picture.

Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz is Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

12 thoughts on “Anti-Apartheid Week – 1

  1. I don’t get it, first pro-Israel groups rant about how much the term “Apartheid” is being misused and then people like Dershowitz go and use it to mean any form of oppression. “Gender apartheid”? Yeah, I get it, sexism exists, that doesn’t make it “Apartheid”.
    Apartheid as a word has a very specific meaning, Alan is right to call out abuses in other Middle Eastern states (and it’s notable that many of the ones he’s calling out are from states whose leadership is allied to Israel, such as Jordan). But he is wrong to use the word to mean “any form of oppression”. Apartheid has a specific legal definition in international law, and regardless of how offended he may be, Israel happens to fall under that definition.

  2. The only solution and it would take time to sink in and take effect would be to make all legitimate residents of Israel equal citizens. one class of citizens, (Separation of State and Church) Start emphasizing sameness instead of dividedness. All citizens of any community should unite and guarantee liberty and equal opportunity. Lebanon works and the rest of Canaan should consider instilling a free society. It also has worked in the USA until similar elements seem to be appearing. The world has to reconcile and get over religious bias,

  3. As a University of Colorado graduate, I can speak to the saturation of this attitude on the Boulder campus. I agree with “conservagrl16” above. The most dangerous spreaders of this propaganda are the academics with PhDs! They have so many idealistic young go-getters, wide-eyed and under their sway. When in undergrad, there were times I tried to discuss this kind of nonsense with it’s advocates. I was met with hostility, aggression, insults… you name it.
    As a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology… I have tried to understand these people’s passion and commitment to this cause (the PhDs, that is). While I am still researching and exploring this area, I thinks that some Nietzsche’s theories can be applied. In the below article about “Green Guilt” the author compares the whole “going green” craze to somewhat subconscious manifestations of more westernized guilt. I believe the theories are very applicable. For my psychology-brained understanding of our world… it explains a lot.
    Here is the link- let me know what you all think!
    CM
    http://chronicle.com/article/Green-Guilt/63447/

  4. Have you noticed that these hate groups do their thing extensively in CA universities?
    I wonder how it would work out for them at CCNY or NYU or Boston College or Holey Cross?

  5. Why did Prof. Dershowitz leave out academics from his list of those on campus who promote the Israel-apartheid big lie? They are the most
    dangerous liars of all because their propaganda is so influential on the uninformed youth under their sway.

  6. As a Jewish student at a University of California campus, I cannot fathom why people present apartheid week in a positive light. It calls for the death of Jews, Zionists, and their supporters. And the university stands in full support of it, when in fact it incites violence against another group! Liberals really don’t care about Israel and its existence; they only put on a facade of pretending to care about it, when in fact, their agenda comes before the Jewish state.
    We cannot allow this to go on, where “minority” groups are given preferential treatment to those who accord themselves with a liberal university.
    This is also what is transpiring at UCSD, which is my university. By giving preference to one group, the diversity of thought is considered racist.

  7. Amen!!
    What is wrong with us? What has happened to true inquiry, open discussion, and the genuine search for truth? We have become intellectually lazy as we rely on the garbage fed to us by our media gurus of choice who wrap their nonsense up in shiny bows stamped with benevolent smiles.

  8. Alan Dershowitz will not find a ready audience for the notion of a fully informed public speaking out about human rights ‘failures’. The first response to his article gives the reason.
    The anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-[fill in the space] ideologue has already ceded the moral imperative and has turned the debate into a shouting match based not on the cause and correction of human rights abuses but on their own moral myopia that allows them to focus on one issue to the exclusion of all others.
    Students in American can clearly see that these ideologues are fully decked out in the “Emperor’s New Clothes” and their arguments are ‘silly’ in the face of their naked hypocrisy.

  9. Nate, there are Jews-only settlements in New York. There are also Amish only settlements in Pennsylvania. Every monastary and nunnery in the world is a Catholic-only settlement. For a group to have a villiage or neighborhood to itself does not constitute “apartheid”.

  10. Nate,
    With all due respect, the Goldstone Report? Zionist racism? Are you serious?
    Perhaps you should be reading Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky.

  11. There will always be Jew-haters (yes, you can be sure that those who justify their conduct as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist are also Jew haters) and so I expect things like Anti-Israel Apartheid week, and we’ll have to deal with them.
    But what really pains me is what I’ll call the weakness of American Jewish youth.
    I’ve been in a throng of Palestinian students and other left-wingers demonstrating against Israel and tried to voice my opinion only to be intimidated.
    And I wondered where are all the Jewish youth to support me? Why am I the one being intimidated, alone?
    We need to oppose the anti-Jewish rallies with not only words, but with our own show of force. Not aggressive, but defensive.
    Words only take you so far. We need to show our enemies that we’re not a bunch of Shtetl Jews who will sit there and be pushed around.

  12. This will backfire on Dershowitz, because Israel is better off with students remaining basically ignorant on the issue.
    Trying to counter the apartheid argument will just open up a can-of-worms and people will begin to see how just deep the rabbit-hole is with Zionist racism, Jews-only settlements, huge concrete wall in the center of Jesus’ birthplace: Bethlehem, etc.
    Zionism cannot win this debate if the American people start to learn more about what is really happening over there (with US taxpayer subsidies to top it off).
    Does Israel really want to educate and debate the Goldstone report, for instance? Israel is far better off if nobody ever reads it, even if pro-Israelis think their rebuttal is good.
    I’m glad to see that Alan Dershowitz in on record against censorship. Good for him.

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