Mar 6, 2009

Israel Apartheid Week: standing with Gaza


"Standing United with the People of Gaza" is the theme of the Fifth Annual Israel Apartheid Week (IAW). Needless to say efforts have been made by influential Zionists and their friends in the Canadian media to disrupt and undermine this year's events.

The comparisons between Israel and apartheid South Africa don't just relate to discriminatory treatment of Palestinians and human rights abuses in the occupied territories - or to the genocidal onslaught on Gaza - the ties are historical and very real. During the apartheid era in South Africa, Israel and the South African racists were tight. Israel trained South African security forces and supplied the white regime in Pretoria with weapons.

One man who won't easily forget this is former South African intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils. He understands what persecution is about. At the beginning of the last century his parents escaped from the anti-Jewish pogroms in Tzarist Russia and immigrated to S.Africa.

Kasrils is scheduled as one of the guest speakers in Toronto - the birthplace of Israel Apartheid Week.

Stateside Nir Harel of Israel's Anarchist's Against the Wall is in New York. Another prominent Israeli activist is Matan Cohen who has done great work in the drive to implement a divestment campaign against Israel at Hampshire College in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile the boycott effort has been gathering steam. Some boycott updates from electronic intifada:

Professors and university employees in Quebec, Canada, endorsed the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees' call to boycott Israel.

SJP's actions at Hampshire College follow similar moves by the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education in the UK.

In London, students held sit-ins at Goldsmith University and the London School of Economics, among other institutions. Similar protests have spread throughout the UK, with some winning concessions from university officials.

At Manchester University, about a thousand students joined a campaign equating Israel with apartheid-era South Africa, and called on the administration and student union to boycott Israeli companies and support Gaza and the BDS movement.

In Australia the University of Western Sydney's Student Association recently joined the international BDS campaign. International trade union support for political action against Israel has been seen from Spain to South Africa.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, under directive of the Council of South African Trade Unions, refused recently to unload an Israeli ship which docked in Durban, despite threats and pressure from both management and the Israeli lobby.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions, with 600,000 members in 55 unions, is preparing to start a boycott of Israeli goods.

Meanwhile, the biggest trade union in Canada's Ontario province, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), was forced under pressure to moderate its call for a boycott of all academic institutions in Israel. Instead it called for a boycott of Israeli institutions engaged in research which aided the Israeli military.

Unfortunately a lot of the events associated with IAW will go under reported in a Canadian media that for the most part has chosen to demonize the event.

Underneath are links to a few sites that are involved in the BDS campaign:

Also link here for Naomi Klein's January boycott call in the UK Guardian.