The Conspiracy

Israeli Apartheid Week: Part of the Problem

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is a problem we cannot ignore.

Sam Melamed agrees with me. He also says that Israel isn’t an apartheid state: on that we agree as well.

Where we differ is in how we choose to approach Israeli Apartheid Week, which purports to strive to bring peace to the Palestinians by supporting boycotts, divestment and sanctions on Israel. Sam sees IAW as part of the solution; I see it as part of the problem. Sam writes that in his initial post on IAW,

I sought to encourage a constructive dialogue within Israel and abroad on the issues and arguments espoused during IAW. My goal was to argue against the knee-jerk reaction of too many Jews and Israelis, which impels them to immediately dismiss any criticism of the state of Israel as anti-Zionist.

I agree that any criticism of Israel is not anti-Zionist, but  IAW is anti-Zionist. This is important because we need to look at how we brand our criticism of Israel. We cannot, as Sam desires, look at the content of IAW divorced from the way it presents itself. IAW seeks not only the liberation of the Palestinian people (a cause I support), but also the death of Israel (a cause I do not support, to say the least).

IAW is destructive to the aim of peace in the region. We cannot support the content of IAW and oppose its form, because the content and form come in a package–a package bounded by hate, intolerance and antagonism.

Sam also writes that while IAW may demonize Israel internationally, the Israeli occupation demonizes Israel more. But why demonize Israel at all? We need to find a way in which the occupation can end through Israelis and Palestinians’ working together, not against each other. A Palestinian state must also be a victory for Israel, not Israel’s defeat. IAW does not support that vision.

On that note, Sam writes,

I’ve spoken with many Zionists who do support calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions… I’d argue that the American lobby J Street’s Invest in Peace campaign speaks to the growing sentiment among many Jews who believe in the promise of a Jewish state but are against what they see to be discriminatory Israeli policy.

But the headline of that J Street link says “Invest, don’t Divest.” J Street–without exception–is against the BDS movement that Sam defends in this passage, and opposes IAW.

Sam ends his post with a call for tikkun olam, and so will I. We need to repair the world by working together, not against each other. We need to find solutions rather than problems with each other. IAW seeks to bring peace to the Palestinians by delegitimizing Israel. I hope to help bring peace to the Palestinians by helping bring peace to Israel.

Sam (and commenters), I welcome your response. Don’t let me have the last word.

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3 Older Responses to “Israeli Apartheid Week: Part of the Problem”

  1. Pax R
    March 8, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    Cheers to Ben for challenging all to moving towards peace. Let’s collaborate together to make the movement stronger.

  2. Sara
    March 9, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    I understand the need to have this discussion, but I feel like this blog is becoming a platform for you and Sam to debate each other. Why don’t you start some sort of forum or thread for it?

  3. zion
    December 31, 2010 at 10:38 pm # my observation of this conflict..the aparthied and the overall struggle of palestinians is real..against the grain..oppression is evident..heres my branch of views and movement to one struggle..

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