Israeli Apartheid Week

by Sara Halimah, University student

Students for Justice in Palestine launched Israeli Apartheid Week on campus last Saturday with its Dueling Charities 5K. With the Mock Apartheid Wall put up in front of Coffman Union on Monday, we would like to make clear what the aim of this week is: to raise awareness about the apartheid system in the occupied Palestinian territories. To call this an anti-Semitic event is making an incorrect analysis of the event and is a harmful accusation to everyone involved. Firstly, SJP takes the strongest possible stance against all forms of oppression and discrimination, including anti-Semitism. It argues that all oppression is linked and unacceptable under any circumstances. Accusing SJP of anti-Semitism overlooks this major part of its mission and reduces an international organization to an unproductive stereotype that stalls any hope of cooperation. Also, the idea that talking about Israeli Apartheid is anti-Semitic is based in the assumption that Zionism and Judaism are the same thing. They are not. Judaism is a religion. Zionism is a political ideology. To be Jewish is to follow the oldest of the three Abrahamic religions. To be a Zionist is to support the establishment of a Jewish-only state in historic Palestine, which inadvertently supports displacement of the Palestinian people. They are two separate things: Not all Zionists are Jews, and not all Jews are Zionists. IAW and SJP are here to raise awareness about how Zionism has created a system of institutional segregation that harms Palestinians in Israel. SJP is not the only international organization to do so. Organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Break the Bonds, Jews Against Genocide, the local Anti-War Committee, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Breaking the Silence and If Americans Knew also raise the issue of Palestine in relation to other issues such as military aid to Israel, the bombing and illegal settlement of occupied territories and the dire need for humanitarian aid. Finally, this accusation only works to obstruct progress. IAW is here to spark a dialogue on the apartheid system that Palestinians live under in Israel, the West Bank and in Gaza, and how our tuition/tax money goes to fund that occupation and oppression. United States funding is already invested in companies that build, supply and profit from the apartheid system in place that keeps Palestinians as second-class citizens at best and under military occupation at worst. We as University of Minnesota students need to talk about this. It cannot be ignored. How do we progress in this discussion if the Palestinian (and humanitarian) narrative is shut down with false claims of anti-Semitism?