Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Faculty Statement in Support of Laurentian University's First Israeli Apartheid Week

March 4-11, 2010: First Israeli Apartheid Week at Laurentian University

"Our freedom is incomplete witout the freedom of the Palestinian people." -- Nelson Mandela

"Solidarity in action: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions"
March, 2010.

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) 2010 is a series of campus events, classroom lectures, guest speakers, and film showings in cities around the world. The Sixth Annual Israeli Apartheid Week will take place around the globe and for the first time in Sudbury at Laurentian University from March 4-11, 2010.

Apartheid may seem like a harsh term to many who associate it exclusively with South Africa’s white segregationist rule - it’s defined as “separation” and was officially declared a crime by the United Nations in the 1976 International Convention of the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. In Israel, the policies aimed at Palestinians are rooted in former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s 1999 victory speech, which called for “peace through separation - we are here and they (Palestinians) are there.” Palestinian life in the occupied territories and Israel include separate roads, schools, neighbourhoods, identity cards and even license plates. The apartheid character of Israeli state policies is undeniable and has long been recognized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela in South Africa, along with many others.

First launched in Toronto in 2005, IAW has grown to become an important global event in the struggle for solidarity with the Palestinian people. The week’s objective is to focus attention on the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation and educate about the apartheid character of Israeli state policies towards the Palestinians. These include the occupation itself, with the cutting up and division of Palestinian territories with the apartheid wall, military checkpoints, the blockade against Gaza, the denial of the Right of Return to Palestinian refugees, and the denial of basic human rights for Palestinians living within Israel’s borders.

Last year more than 40 cities around the world participated in Israeli Apartheid Week activities, which took place in the wake of Israel's brutal assault against the people of Gaza. This year, for the first time, IAW will be taking place here at Laurentian University with speakers, film showings, and other events. These will include author Yves Engler speaking on his new book on Canadian state support for Israeli Apartheid, and an educational discussion on the Right to Education and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns with Alan Sears from Ryerson University and Rafeef Ziadah from Palestine House in Toronto.

IAW 2010 takes place following a year of major successes for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Israeli occupation on the global level. The BDS campaign has been called for by the Palestinian people themselves and is increasingly being taken up by unions and other groups in Canada. For more information on it go to

Lectures, films, and events during IAW will highlight some of these successes along with informing people about the many injustices that continue to make BDS so crucial in the battle to end Israel’s apartheid practices.

The week is directed against all forms of hatred and bigotry -- including anti-semitism and Islamophobia.

At Laurentian there will be films and a number of speakers, and following the model developed for Women's History Week this past fall, we are asking faculty if they would be willing to devote some time to these issues in their classes during this week. We already have more
than six faculty members who have arranged for their classes during IAW to focus on various aspects of the Palestinian struggle, ranging from classes in English, to Sociology, to Service Social.

As resources for classroom use we have a number of films that can be shown in classes including ‘Occupation 101’, ‘Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land’, ‘SlingShot HipHop’, and ‘Edward Said on Orientalism’ (the Audio-visual Centre in the Fraser Auditorium Building has a copy), which has considerable content on the Palestinian struggle.

We also have a useful and short PowerPoint presentation that can be used from the Right to Education campaign. Your entire class does not need to be devoted to this topic and even spending a short amount of time on these questions could be quite useful.

For those who want their class events listed as part of Israeli Apartheid Week activities we will list them on a poster produced for the event. Please let us know about this.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Also please get in touch if you have any questions or concerns.

In solidarity,

Kaili Beck, Sociology and Labour Studies
Francois Boudreau, Service Social
Shana Calixte, Women's Studies
Norman Cheadle, Modern Languages
Dana Cudney, Sociology
Mrinalini Greedharry, English
Gary Kinsman, Sociology
David Leadbeater, Economics
Laurie McGauley, Women's Studies
Reuben Roth, Sociology and Labour Studies
Alexis Shotwell, Philosophy and English
Mercedes Steedman, Sociology and Labour Studies

For the Palestine Solidarity Working Group

For more information contact Gary Kinsman at or at 675-1151 ext. 4221 or 523-2205.

1 comment:

jacques said...

The whiff of something medieval hangs over this March ritual dubbed as Israel Apartheid Week. The perfidy of the Jewish state is a unifying belief just as the perfidy of Jews always was. The fascist right during the Nazi era said Jews were Bolsheviks and blamed them for the scourge of communism; the totalitarian left said Jews were financiers and blamed them for the predations of capitalism.

Professors Gary Kinsman and Reuben Roth who are participating in the planned events may painstakingly emphasize that “this is not about Jews but about Zionism.”

The problem is that the lines become blurred and the distinction between the two becomes erased as demonizing Israel becomes a central and unifying activity for those who practice radical politics.

So am I saying Israel is a beacon of enlightenment and that anyone who disagrees is an anti-Semite?

No, I'm not. Israel has its flaws, as do all countries. Criticizing Israel does not make one an anti-Semite anymore than criticizing the government of France makes one anti-French. But it's one thing to criticize France and another to declare the French nation illegitimate and to advocate its dismantling. However, there is a sharp contrast between how the nations of the world and Israel are treated.
Professor Shalom Lappin of Kings College, London testified to Britain's All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry Against Anti-Semitism, which issued its report September 2006:
“The Israel-Palestinian encounter has been largely denaturalized and removed from its political and regional context. It is no longer seen as a political and military struggle between two nations with a long and complex history.... Instead, it has been endowed with the peculiar status of an iconic clash between good and evil. Israel has increasingly come to be construed as the purest embodiment of imperialism, racism and oppression whose sole national purpose is to dispossess the Palestinians."
As Michael Ignatieff noted during apartheid week last year, "International law defines 'Apartheid' as a crime against humanity. Labeling Israel an 'Apartheid' state is a deliberate attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state itself."

Make no mistake. That's what Israeli Apartheid week is all about. It is the fanatical, disproportionate focus on Israel -- no other country is subjected to a week-long hatefest at university campuses -- that points to something more sinister going on. What's scary is that, as the unconscious instruments of an ancient hatred, Israel Apartheid week has become the new expression of darker pent-up sentiments.

Dr. Jacques Abourbih
Northern Ontario School of Medicine