Apartheid Week – A Global Hate Fest

Far be it for me to “rant” more than twice a week, so as to not clog up already bulging mail boxes but this is a topic that not only deserves a rant but the proverbial horse needs to be flogged again and again until the truth rears its head.  February 20th marks the starts of Apartheid Week, a delirious festival of anti-Israel hatred dressed up as a human right’s concern that plays out on a very troubling stage, University campuses around the world. From Canada to South Africa,  the wolves in sheep’s clothing will rant (okay, so I don’t have the monopoly on that!) and point fingers, ignoring real human rights travesties such as mass murder in Syria or Iranian nuclear programmes  and their dubious intent to focus on the favoured target, Israel. According to  the Apartheid Week official website, Apartheid Week will be marked as follows:

Europe: February 20 – March 10

Palestine: March 12-19
United States: February 26 – March 3
Canada: March 5-9
Arab World: March 5-11
South Africa: March 5-11

 

On many occasions I have lamented the tragic hijacking of the word “Apartheid” which in essence meant the legislated and enforced laws of racial segregation that classed the black citizens of South Africa as disenfranchised and second class.  Instead, this definition has become a sexy way to package, market and sell anti-Israel hatred. The word Apartheid is provocative, emotive and evocative and inspires a variety of strong emotions. In their haste to demonize Israel, detractors have forgotten to define what Apartheid was! The black people of South Africa suffered tremendously under the Apartheid regime and by comparing Israel, an imperfect but thriving democracy, to the former South Africa makes light of their suffering. It is an odious comparison to say the least.

 

This campaign of hatred is nothing more than a scurrilous attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel. One must note that even in the darkest days of Apartheid, NOBODY questioned South Africa’s right to exist as a country, no matter how much the world objected to its racist policies. Calling into question Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State or the rights of Jews to organize themselves along political lines and call it Zionism IS racism. By painting Israel as a pariah state that has little right to exist and ignoring true racist states says more about those pointing fingers than our plucky little country. I grew up in South Africa and bore witness to the horrors of Apartheid and I live in Israel and while it is not perfect and yes, racism exists, comparing the two countries makes my flame red hair stand on end and inspires me to jump on my well used and battered soapbox.  South Africa is perhaps one of the most important centres for this campaign of delegitimisation because it is the country that not only holds the benchmark for defeating Apartheid but exports anti-Apartheid activists to the above mentioned centres to promote their Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign against Israel and spew forth their vitriol. Naturally disguised as concern for human rights abuse while ignoring those perpetrated by some of the most appalling leaders including those of Hamas, Iran and Syria, to name but a few.

 

Those advocating BDS assume that by “punishing” Israel with cultural, economic, sporting and other sanctions it will bring us to our knees, and we will abandon the idea of a Two State Solution. They assume that by isolating Israel  it will result in Palestinians and Israelis living  happily ever after in a giant rainbow nation like South Africa and everything will be sunshine, lollipops and roses. Except for one small detail. Palestinians want to live with Palestinians and we would like to retain our identity as a Jewish State that treats its minority communities with respect and equality.  Oh yes, and we would like to do this in peace please.

 

By advocating a One State Solution, BDS advocates not only patronize Palestinian national aspirations but Jewish as well. They are well aware that demographically Israel would not survive as the only Jewish state in the world.

 

Even notorious anti-Israel protagonist, Norman Finkelstein, has come out and publicly called the BDS movement a “Cult”. While I don’t think he will be pledging allegiance to the Israeli flag or singing Hatikvah anytime soon, it certainly quite a coup to have someone like Finkelstein speak out against BDS and expose it for what it really is. This has ruffled some feathers in the anti-Israel camp!

 

It has become trendy to join the anti-Israel frenzy on campus.  It saddens me that in order to become pro-Palestinian the trend is to become as anti-Israel as one can possibly be. Academic institutions are supposed to be hotbeds of free thinking so I am going to send this message to students: start a new trend – buck the system by becoming pro peace and  being informed of the realities in this part of the Middle East. Rebel by choosing not to harass Israeli speakers, diplomats and IDF who visit your campus. Come on students, this is YOUR time to challenge authority….

 

Perhaps it would behoove the organizers of Apartheid week to dedicate this time more productively. If you want to have a week that commemorates Apartheid, think of those in South Africa who were victims or use the time more positively to think of peaceful solutions to the conflict. Remember, some of the most famous cults no longer exist….

Just do…….something

 

The Gals and I volunteering ....

Wends, Gina, Sue and I get into the spirit of volunteering....

 

As Olim Chadashim (new immigrants) we are faced with many challenges on a daily basis. One of the greatest, is how we try to integrate into a society that is extremely diverse, fast paced and at times, intimidating! We try to master the language and if you are anything like me, you are prone to many mistakes, have days when you can speak and others when brain and mouth just will not engage! Attempting to utter a coherent sentence in Hebrew, often results in an indulgent but perplexed facial expression from the people you are speaking to. I am still convinced I will be extradited back to South Africa for “crimes against the language”. Just navigating the various systems here feels like it may be easier to broker peace in the Middle East than understand how things work! When you are new to a country, sometimes just surviving the day is an achievement. And here, subtitles and United Nations culture handbooks are not included.

 

One of the greatest tips that I can give Olim, especially those that are not of the age when they can serve in the Army, is get involved with some kind of volunteer organisation. Those of us who do not serve for whatever reason, really miss out on an important facet of Israeli life. It is not just about serving the country but also about getting to understand the culture. I strongly advocate joining a volunteer organisation. You will be wonderfully surprised at how quickly this becomes an unexpected support system and helps with the integration process. You also get to make new friends which in a new country can be quite difficult.  For me, the organisation of choice is WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation). I was a member in South Africa and have been afforded many opportunities through the organisation and have proudly continued this in Israel. From this, I am privileged to include some superb women as my friends, role models and I have at least three Israeli mommy’s or “shalosh ima’ot Israeli’ot, clucking around me like mother hens, dispensing with much needed hugs, concerned phone calls and advice. Being Jewish, naturally there is no shortage of food! Mama Jay, Tova and Tricia this one is for you!

 

So where am I going with all of this? The point I am trying to make is that when you are new (or relatively new like me) you look for ways to integrate and hopefully give back to the country.  Immigration to Israel does have its perks and the country is unique in that it was established to welcome and absorb Jewish immigrants from all over the world. The systems are in place to make your landing a little softer. For me, it is important that I give back to the country that has given me so much, not just as an Olah, but also as a person. A wise person once said that you make a living by what you earn but you make a life by what you give. There are so many opportunities in Israel to get involved in helping and giving back. Whether you want to help new Olim , or like me, volunteer for WIZO whose credo is working for an improved Israeli society and women’s rights. Do something special for the men and women in defense of the country or Holocaust survivors. If going green turns you on, or you want to work with animals, go on, just do something!! There is no shortage of way to get involved and doing. You will be amazed at not how much pleasure you get from giving but your growth as a person and realizing things about yourself that you never knew is astounding.

 

Come on, just do…….something!