Alon Coret / The Silhouette
Every March, the tensions of the Middle East are felt at McMaster University in the form of Israeli Apartheid Week.
This campaign intimidates Jewish and Israeli students on campus (as well as passersby), spreads propaganda under the guise of “human rights” and demonizes the only liberal democracy in the region.
Don’t get me wrong – I believe we all have the right to express our opinions and be critical of any government’s policies – but let’s get rid of the hypocrisy.
Suppose for a minute that Israel was a Muslim nation, but with the same policies regarding the Palestinians. Do you think that McMaster students would really go out of their way to criticize it, call for boycotts and sanctions against it, or compare its policies to those of Nazi Germany? I doubt it. That would offer obvious proof that IAW is an anti-Semitic venture – a week whose sole purpose is to gang up on the Jewish State.
I hope that I am wrong. Maybe I am giving too little credit to our school’s “social justice” clubs, and they are not really trying to be hypocrites; perhaps if Israel were a Muslim nation, they would organize a campaign to try to delegitimize it. Well then, I ask, why are we only hearing about Israel’s faults? This is an issue worth exploring.
Take Syria, Israel’s northern neighbor. If you opened a newspaper in recent months, you are probably aware of the atrocities committed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime against his own people. We have seen thousands of civilian deaths, Internet being shut down, rampant censorship, towns being bombarded – it’s a brutal civil war. To make matters worse, Palestinians in Syria are being especially targeted and cannot escape the country. Where is Syrian Human Rights Week?
In Egypt, tensions rose as the country’s new Islamist leader tried to implement more conservative Muslim legislation. The government is shaky; the political situation still hasn’t settled since the recent revolution. While all this is happening, minorities in Egypt, specifically Coptic Christians, are oppressed and persecuted. Copts have suffered mob assaults on their churches, Coptic girls and women have been regularly abducted and trafficked, and Copts face state-sanctioned discrimination at both political and judicial levels. Where is Egyptian Human Rights Week?
In Jordan, there is a monarchy with a tight grip on the population. A large portion of Jordan’s population comprises of Palestinian refugees, or those of Palestinian descent; nearly two million of the country’s population of six million. Jordanian Palestinians do not enjoy the same rights as their Jordanian counterparts, and are severely underrepresented in the higher education and electoral systems. Where is Jordanian Human Rights Week?
In Lebanon, Palestinians face perhaps the worst of discrimination. They are barred from over 25 professions, including medicine, law and engineering. They are also prevented from registering property, and according to Human Rights Watch, they live in “appalling social and economic conditions.” Where is Lebanon Human Rights Week?
These are only Israel’s neighbors. Countless other human rights abuses are taking place all over the Middle East.
Any critical thinker could understand that the cases of Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon represent serious human rights violations and are topics worthy of discussion.
To date, little if any campaigning has been done at this university to shed light on these issues. If anything did take place, it was a far cry from a week of boisterous and aggressive action – the kind of week dedicated to criticizing Israel.
So we’re back to the start. If students committed to human rights, peace and justice are going to campaign on this campus – they ought to cover more of the issues.
Choosing to obsess over Israel is hypocritical at best and anti-Semitic at worst. I believe that the McMaster community deserves to see a better use of their student centre.
The IAW slogan commands us to “call it what it is” and so we should. IAW is toxic, it is divisive, it is a twisting of facts and most of all it is hypocritical.
If you want to gain knowledge about the Middle East, you can do better than this. Check out scholarly research, read various newspapers, or take a course on the region’s history and contemporary issues.
By educating yourself and thinking critically, you will become a more responsible global citizen.