Although Apartheid Week activists cleverly use the public's revulsion toward the word "apartheid," it is apparent their aim is not to fight genuine oppression, but rather to bash Israel, the Middle East's only liberal democracy and the only country among its neighbors designated as "free" by Freedom House, a non-partisan group that monitors the status of political, human and civil rights around the world.
Find this flyer and other information about apartheid and oppression in the Middle East at the StandWithUs website here.
In short, Israel is being singled out for unfair, discriminatory treatment.
Palestinian writer Samir el-Youssef once wrote that activist Omar Barghouti, one of Apartheid Week 2009's star speakers, "invokes defined, binding international laws and principles of human rights not to defend their universal application but solely to accuse Israel of defying them a selective concern that will seem astonishing to anyone who knows the recent history of the Middle East."
The same could also be said about the Apartheid Week movement in general.
Why is there is no Apartheid Week or protest regarding, for example, Saudi Arabia, ranked "not free" the worst designation by Freedom House? After all, according to the State Department, that country of nearly 28,000,000 lacks freedom of religion, assembly, movement and speech. Discrimination against women includes, for instance, prohibition against voting, driving and traveling without a male relative.
Nor do we hear from Apartheid Week activists a word about Iran, which the U.S. State Department's 2008 Country Report on Human Rights Practices notes commits "numerous serious abuses" against human rights, including the execution of homosexuals.
The Apartheid Week organizers also ignore and even share the certain goals with the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip. Hamas, recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S., European Union and others, seeks to wipe the Jewish state off the map. To that end, the group has murdered hundreds of civilian men, women and children in suicide bombings and rocket attacks, and has boasted about using Palestinians as human shields.
And Apartheid Week activists don't call for boycott, divestment or sanctions against Jordan, even though that country's penal code specifically articles 340 and 98 protects the perpetrators of so-called honor killings. The term "honor killings" is a euphemism for the murder of women, including rape victims, whose sexual involvement or autonomous behavior "shames" their family. Based on these Jordanian laws, people who murder women who are deemed to dishonor the family have been given only token sentences of six months, or even less.
New York Times
columnist Thomas Friedman, who doesn't hesitate to criticize Israel, referred to students who promote divestment campaigns against Israel but ignore the genuine oppression described above as "hypocrites," and maybe worse. "Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile," he wrote
. "But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest."