Published: March 13, 2013
In early March, students from college campuses all across the country, including Northeastern, will join together as part of “Israeli Apartheid Week.” The alleged purpose of this event is “to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns” against the country. In America, we all have freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution. However, this freedom should not be used to spread incitement and hate through lies and a demonization campaign. The accusation that Israel is an apartheid state is false.
Apartheid, as defined by the International Convention on the Suppression and the Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA), is racial segregation and discrimination with the intent of “establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial groups of persons.”
In Apartheid South Africa, from 1948 to 1994, there was an official policy that declared blacks as second-class citizens and excluded them from the civil services awarded to whites. They could not vote, access medical care, own property or hold public office. The children could not attend the same schools as white children. There were even public locations that strictly prohibited blacks.
Not one of those restrictions applies to the 1.5 million Arabs living in Israel. Each Israeli Arab receives the same civil rights as all Israeli citizens. Arabs in Israel serve in Parliament, have the right to vote and have the same professional opportunities as Israelis. Not only are Arabs granted these rights, they actually have more freedom in Israel than in any Arab country. In fact, a 2006 survey from the Institute for Policy and Strategy found that 82 percent of Israeli-Arabs would rather be a citizen of Israel than of any other country.
Israel also strives to create peace with Palestinians. In the years 1948, 1978, 2000 and 2008, Israel tried to establish peace plans with the Palestinian government. In 1947 UN Resolution 181 called for the creation of a Jewish state and a Palestinian State. The two-state solution was rejected because the Arab countries would not recognize Israel’s legitimacy.
At Northeastern, students have the opportunity to voice their opinions on their values and beliefs. With that said, it is important that students learn to differentiate fact from fiction and to be respectful of others.
According to President Joseph E. Aoun, “it is vital that we show our commitment to mutual respect and diversity. These are the values that define and enrich our community, and no act of intolerance can ever undermine that.”
Last year during Northeastern’s “Israeli Apartheid Week” professor Shahid Alam was a keynote speaker. In his speech, he said “don’t be afraid of somebody calling you anti-Semitic. Laugh at them.” Do these values define students at our school? The answer is no. I urge every one of you to promote peace on campus and in society. The first step is to stand up against NU’s “Israeli Apartheid Week.”
-Adam Sapers is a sophomore marketing/finance major