The 8th Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) started last night with an opening event at the University of Toronto. It was much less enthusiastic than last year when the hall was packed and they didn’t even have seats for everybody. This year they attracted a much smaller audience, probably about 70 people, in a half-empty hall, including the same elderly people, who want to experience again the passion of the 1960’s, with a few progressive students; not many Muslims and only one hijab.
Even the speakers’ level was downgraded – last year they had Judy Rebick from Rabble and Abigail Bakan, who is a real professor at U of T. This year they invited some fringe characters to speak (and I couldn’t even find Rabble among the endorsers).
Still, the fighting spirit was there. In the short movie they showed in the beginning (the same we saw last year) the statement was clear:
“When people fight the occupation, it is not terrorism, it’s resistance.”
Just like the last year, the event started with badmouthing Canada as a “colonial apartheid country”, which exists thanks to the theft of land and resources from the “indigenous peoples”. And the girl, who said that, urged all in the audience to work diligently to decolonize Canada. (They can easily do that if they just leave the country.)
Then they announced that (for some strange reason) this year’s IAW emphasis will be on fighting the global imperialism. And like in a nightmare from the last year, they started by peddling the old petition about divesting from Hewlett-Packard, Northtrop, BAE and Lockheed Martin for their involvement in Israel. Over 100 faculty members already signed it (wasn’t the number the same last year?) and even luminaries like Judy Rebick supported it. Then they played exactly the same propaganda movie about the companies we saw last year.
Then we had to listen to an address by a representative of Palestine House, which wasn’t announced in the schedule (I have a separate post for that speech).
The first speaker was Justin Podur. According to the information about him, he is a Toronto-based writer and editor, who writes on political conflicts and social movements, primarily for Z Communications.
He started by saying that the recent statement of Norman Finkelstein about the BDS campaign was to be accepted as a friendly challenge to do a better job. (As you may know, Finkelstein, one of the staunchest supporters of the Palestinian cause, recently said that the Boycott-Divest-Sanction movement is a failure, it scares many people, who see it as an attempt to destroy Israel. This view is far from being a “friendly challenge”.)
Podur stated that his presentation will be a response to Finkelstein’s statement. It wasn’t clear what Podur’s real intent was, because he said that he would present the forced nature of apartheid through a series of maps. The first map showed a settlement in South Africa, where the area was divided between white people, Indians, and different African tribes. The division was imposed and maintained by force.
Then he showed a map of the railroad system of North America. Pointing at it, he said that because of their greed, in the 19th century the capitalists of Canada refused to use the US railways to transport their goods. Instead, they built railways in Canada, which ran East to West, destroying forests and lands of “indigenous people”. (This was one of the most idiotic statements I’ve heard for ages – how are the goods to be delivered within Canada, if the railways are only in the USA?)
After that we saw a map of the forests in Canada, combined with the Indian land claims – the mining, he said, was destroying the forests and ruining the chances of “native self-determination in the future” (not a word about who is going to cover the native welfare payments, if no industry is developed).
Then finally we saw an Israeli map, showing the settlements and the Arab areas in the West Bank. The “apartheid” should be ended by dismantling the settlements and allowing all “refugees” to return. Podur even had a solution to the return problem, which supposedly won’t affect Israel that much, developed by Salman Abu Sitta, an Arab architect and sociologist (you can read his book at plands-dot-org, sorry, don’t want to give him a link). Sitta works with 1998 numbers, which estimate the number of the refugees at about 5,000,000. That includes both registered with UNWRA and unregistered. Since the Palestinians are the only refugee group that constantly grows by both births and adoptions, the number now must be much larger.
Sitta says that the “refugees” can move to areas, where there are not that many Jews, like Negev and Galilee, and also around the cities and the towns. That would create a harmonious transition. I wonder if the author is out of his mind. That plan would’ve worked if people were chess pieces, but they are living beings, whose actions are determined by upbringing, beliefs and convictions. Doubling the population of Israel overnight with people, who have been exposed all of their lives to terrorist and fanatical ideologies, is not going to bring anything good.
The next speaker was a real Israeli. Dalit Baum, a lesbian “queer activist” was a “feminist scholar and teacher in Israel, who has been teaching about militarism and about the global economy from a feminist perspective in Israeli universities”. God save Israel, if most of the teachers there are like her.
First of all, every time she mentioned Israel, she called it “Israel-Palestine”, a sure sign of the one-country solution supporter.
She started off by bragging how she and other activists used to go for protests to the West Bank, where they were regularly shot at and sprayed with water by IDF. After going back to Israel, they suffered internally from having that “Jewish privilege”. Going back to Israel was probably better, because with her very lesbian look, I am not sure how long she would’ve survived among the Muslim fanatics in the West Bank.
She spoke at length about the apartheid and the BDS movement, but failed to provide convincing examples of success. She gave a complicated example with Lev Leviev, one of the richest Israelis – a bunch of BDS activists picketed his diamond store in New York. As a result, one of the public construction companies doing work in the West Bank, that he had interests in, didn’t receive credit and had to curtail its activities and drop projects in the area. However, that didn’t affect his private companies operating in the West Bank.
Then there was more confusion – the occupation costs billions of dollars, mostly for security and for the wall, but at the same time not only Israel, but also the Palestinian Authority benefit from those expenses. Israel was accused of stopping the exports from Gaza and destroying the industrial sector in the West Bank (did it even exist?). In her words, the purpose of the “Zionist project” was to reduce the “industrial competition from the indigenous people”.
The major strategy of the movement is to make the 20 richest families in Israel suffer financially. So far, the BDS people have been successful in driving one Belgian bank out of Israel. The final purpose is to turn Israel into an international pariah, the same way South Africa was treated years ago.
That woman left me wonder – how is it possible to hate your country that much?! And how could she be so ignorant? If the Arab fanatics ever take over in Israel, “queer Jews” like her will be the first to be exterminated. Obviously, progressive liberal arts education causes total mental meltdown…
The last speaker, Eva Bartlett, was presented as “an independent Canadian activist and freelance journalist who has spent long periods in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and reporting from the ground.”
She brought quite a lot of pictures and video material, designed to prove Israel’s “state-sponsored terrorism” in Gaza.
She basically described the Israeli army patrolling around Gaza as a bunch of merry sadists, who shoot Palestinians for fun. There is a safety zone supposed to be 300 meters, but the army arbitrarily increased it up to 2 km in certain areas of Gaza. Supposedly, the farmers close to that area are often shot at. She had a movie to illustrate the situation.
The footage showed a group of “farmers” cutting grass. Among them was a Western activist with a bright orange jacket (the kind that the roadside workers wear) holding a speaker and observing the area. Suddenly, we heard something sounding like shots. Some of the people jumped, but none of them ducked or lied down, which would be the natural reaction. Even the person holding the camera didn’t change position. The activist started to yell through the speaker, facing the border: “Don’t shoot, we’re farmers!” The “shooting” continued, with all the people running around in circle. Suddenly, one of them screamed and dropped to the ground, supposedly he was hit. However, the cameraman didn’t go next to him to show the wound, but kept showing the others, who were screaming. (Wouldn’t showing a close up of the wounded person be a nice propaganda move?)
It was just another example of the Palliwood propaganda – a movie that can easily fool only dedicated lefties, who desperately want to believe in the evil of the “bloodthirsty Jews”.
Her pictures of the “mass atrocities” in Gaza didn’t show anything on a mass scale either. Then we saw a few destroyed buildings, which she said were razed by army bulldozers for no reason.
And that was the common thread joining all the presentations – the Zionists monsters tortured and mistreated the saintly Palestinians for no reason.
Not a word that the checkpoints exist to stop Arab terrorists from entering Israel.
Not a word that the wall stops suicide bombers from blowing up children in Israeli cafes and discos.
Not a word that the IDF patrols around Gaza because 10,000 missiles have been launched against Israel.
Not a word that all of those destroyed houses are either entrances to underground tunnels or missile launching pads.
Nothing strange about that – telling truth has never been a priority for the Left…
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