For some, calling it “apartheid” is too strong a word
It’s that time of year: the time when a number of students at Concordia, with a dysfunctional focus on Israel, seek to launch an event hurling accusations against Israel for being an “apartheid state.” This accusation contains little to no substance or veracity. It would be amusing, if it weren’t so pathetic and an insult to actual victims of apartheid.
As students of Concordia, we have a responsibility to properly analyze a situation while using the correct words to describe it. “Apartheid” is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a former system in South Africa in which black people and people from other racial groups did not have the same political and economic rights as white people and were forced to live separately from white people.” The aims of Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) are to bolster opposition towards what they refer to as “Israeli Apartheid.”
Contrary to what is portrayed by IAW, there is no system of Jewish exclusion of non-Jewish residents in Israel or the territories it administers. Proponents of IAW would do well to contrast the seriousness of real apartheid to Ariel University. Ariel University, located in what would be termed as a West Bank “settlement” by IAW proponents, includes a student population of Jews, Arabs, Druze, and Circassian students. Of these students, an estimated 600 Arab-Muslim students are enrolled. In December 2011, AU held a conference titled “Best Plans for a Peaceful Israel/Palestine,” where Jews, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas in the West Bank attended and held lectures.
This is a far cry from the now-defunct Rand Afrikaans University, the predecessor of the University of Johannesburg, which limited enrollment to white South African students and banned any potential black student from attending.
Based on 2007 statistics, about 1,300 of Pisgat Zeev’s 42,000 residents were Arabs. In nearby French Hill, nearly one sixth of residents are Arabs, which included students at the neighboring Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Neve Yaakov, with 20,000 people, has a population of 600 Arabs, according to the Israel Center for Jerusalem Studies. These are areas which IAW represents as being part of a supposed Israeli policy of “Judaizing” Arab lands.
Yet, a major development which truly highlights the absurdity of IAW’s accusation can be observed in the upcoming Israeli Elections. Israeli-Arab Supreme Court Judge Salim Joubran, is serving as the Chairman of the Central Election Committee and will be in charge of overseeing Israel’s parliamentary elections. The Committee is in charge of registering lists of political parties running for election, campaign financing, election logistics, tallying results, and dealing with any challenges to the results.
Israel Apartheid Week puts forth fallacious arguments and inaccurate generalizations concerning the State of Israel. Its proponents do not comprehend the horrendous injustice of what apartheid actually represents, while ignoring the fact that Palestinians are denied basic human rights in Arab countries surrounding Israel.
Bradley Martin is a Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) Fellow and student at Concordia University