As Israeli Apartheid Week gets underway, there is a major campaign currently underway to deny freedom of expression on campus to those in solidarity with
The Equity Office at
The argument that criticism of
This statement is only legitimate if we completely ignore the situation of the Palestinians, the residents of the land
Defenders of Israeli policy routinely attempt to direct our attention to abuses happening in other places and insist that a hidden agenda must underlie any focus on Israeli brutality in this unjust world. This argument would lead to paralysis in human rights activism by claiming that one must address all cases at once, or only the "worst" cases. Should we have told Rosa Parks, who refused to go the back of a segregated bus in Alabama in 1955, to quit whining as conditions were even worse in South Africa, or colonized Kenya, or for that matter for Palestinians in refugee camps?
The deployment of anti-Semitism as an accusation to silence criticism of
This nationalist project has largely marginalized Jewish universalism, which argued that the future of a minority, diasporic community depended on winning widespread freedoms that applied to all members of society. That meant that in
The misuse of equity claims to silence Palestinian voices is a setback in the advancement of a human rights agenda. Further, it is a dangerous strategy that makes critics of the State of Israel into enemies of the Jewish people despite themselves. It even casts those of us who are Jewish allies of Palestinian rights as enemies in the battle against anti-Semitism. Further, it disarms us in the face of anti-Semitic incidents, weakening the credibility of organizations that have used the term too broadly and blurred the line between opposition to the State of Israel and anti-Jewish prejudice.
Anti-Semitism has no place in the Palestine solidarity movement and as Jews in that movement we can attest to the fact that the leadership of the Palestinian rights movement and many Arab and Muslim communities are actively addressing anti-Semitism wherever it raises its ugly head. On the other hand, false claims of anti-Semitism from pro-Israeli groups undermines their cause and creates more polarization, fear and anger around these issues than there needs to be.
Judy Rebick and Alan Sears are both university professors and Jews in solidarity with
IAW schedule and list of events: http://apartheidweek.org/
For related article: "Academic Freedom Threatened in Canadian Universities" (by Margaret Aziza Pappano, Feb. 2009) http://www.caiaweb.org/node/1168