Thursday, April 16, 2009

‘Israel Apartheid Week’ Under Attack, But Getting Stronger

by Louisa Worrell
Basics Issue #13 (Apr/May 2009)

This year’s international Israeli Apartheid Week was the largest ever - being held in over 40 cities all across the world - and its level of success was matched with an unprecedented level of repression from university administrations, the Canadian government and Zionist pro-Israel groups on and off campuses. Despite the sometimes-violent nature of this repression, the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel is growing each year and is showing no signs of letting up until apartheid in Israel falls.

Israeli Apartheid Week is a weeklong series of events that spread information and analysis about the nature of Israel as an Apartheid State. The word Apartheid was the name of the government created in South Africa from 1948-1994 that separated the population by Black (majority of population), White, and Coloured. The laws made it legal to treat the "Coloured" population like second-class citizens, and the "Black" (native South African) population like third class citizens, refugees in their own country. This status meant little or no education, no voting rights, poor healthcare, checkpoints and police terror for Africans.

Israel is now recognised around the world by more and more people as imposing a similar apartheid system on Palestinians. This is why Israeli Apartheid week exists: to spread information about this system and promote the boycott of Israeli products. In Canada, one of the main boycotts going on right now is that of major book retailer Chapters Indigo, for its financial support of Israeli soldiers.

The forms of university campus repression this year included the outright banning of the Israeli Apartheid Week poster in two of Ottawa’s universities (Carlton U and U of Ottawa), as well as banning of the group Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) group at York University. SAIA York was also fined $1000 for holding a rally at York U and the SAIA chapter at U of T suffered physical and verbal harassment from Zionist groups and individuals.

As for repression coming down from the Federal level, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff have both denounced the event, and Jason Kenney has pulled funding from the immigration settlement programs administered by the Canadian Arab Federation on the basis of its Palestinian advocacy.

Israeli Apartheid Week is against all forms of discrimination, including Islamaphobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. Despite the repression, the organisers stand strong against the racist Israeli state and takes a similar stand against the Canadian state for its racist genocidal policies towards indigenous peoples to this very day.

End Israeli Apartheid!
Boycott Chapters-Indigo!
Let the Palestinian Refugees Return Home!

If you are interested in getting involved in Israeli Apartheid Week 2010, you can contact and check out the movement’s main website: