March not only brought the hope of spring, but, less welcoming, “Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).” IAW has developed into an annual, two-week hate fest (March 1-14) of coordinated anti-Israel events such as lectures, films, and “street theatre” activities held in cities and campuses worldwide. Beginning in Toronto in 2005, by 2009 it had spread to 40 cities on all the continents. IAW aims to portray Israel as a new South African apartheid country, delegitimizing and demonizing the Jewish State, and to build local support for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel. In Chicago this year, we have tracked ten activities being held on and off campuses such as film screenings of “Occupation 101” and lectures entitled, “From Johannesburg to Jerusalem: Lessons from South Africa on Ending Apartheid.”
As the Program Director for the (Jewish Community Relations Council) JCRC/Hillel Israel Initiative, I help motivate and educate a new generation of Illinois college students to promote support for Israel on campus and beyond. During the past eight years, my colleagues and I have worked closely with student activists helping to educate them on how to address the challenges of events such as 'apartheid week' as they play out on Illinois campuses.
Pictured at the Champaign rally are Lexi Abern, Yael Mazor, Rebecca Crystal, Gail Schnitzer, and Brian Rosen
This year, we are sponsoring programs that target different audiences, to marginalize IAW’s impact. For example, at the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana an “IVest” campaign with the business school highlights the economic benefits to Illinois from doing business with Israel. Additionally, following Israel Apartheid week, Israel Peace Week starts. With major programming taking place daily, the real Israel – democratic, an American ally and miracle worker in Haiti – will be highlighted.
To read more about IAW, check out these op-eds from the JTA and Washington Post:
Op-Ed: Action needed to combat campaign delegitimizing Israel
Israel has its faults, but apartheid isn't one of them