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By: Lina Assi & Yara Shoufani
Each year, Israeli Apartheid Week takes place across more than 150 universities and cities. IAW aims to raise awareness about Israel’s ongoing settler-colonial project and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people.
IAW’s goal is to tell the world of the Palestinian struggle, one which is so often erased in mainstream media. Apartheid is a system of racial segregation. In Israel, this includes military control over the West Bank, two distinct identification systems, separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians and military checkpoints which only Palestinians are subjected to. These restrictions on movement have impeded access to health and education. Palestinian houses are demolished for “Israeli only” settlements, and an apartheid wall — eight times the size of the Berlin Wall — separates Palestinians not only from Israelis, from the world and from one another. Israel’s system of settler-colonialism and apartheid has dismantled Palestine into fragmented pieces of land, destroying the Palestinian economy and social structures.
Israeli Apartheid Week brings the occupation onto campus, so to speak. It aims to show students that there is no Israeli-Palestinian “conflict” because the word implies that the two sides are equal. There is instead an occupied and an occupier; an illegal, inhumane, brutal, military occupation.
There is no Israeli-Palestinian “conflict” because the word implies that the two sides are equal.
On March 15 at 6:30 p.m. we are hosting Eran Efrati and Maya Wind for a free lecture. Eran is an ex-Israeli soldier, and Maya is an Israeli peace activist whose refusal to join the military led to her imprisonment in Israel. We hope the stories of Eran and Maya will show McMaster students that Israel’s occupation is not only being resisted against by Palestinians, but by small groups within Israeli society as well.
We will also be recreating apartheid on the BSB lawn through displays of the apartheid wall, settlements, roads, prisons and even the blockaded Gaza Strip. We hope this display will show students that there is no such thing as neutrality in the face of injustice.
Both Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and McMaster Muslims for Peace and Justice will be tabling in MUSC to talk to students about Israel and Palestinian resistance movements, such as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. This educational week is one that is endorsed by many Hamilton movements and student clubs, including Independent Jewish Voices, McMaster Muslim Students Association, McMaster Womanists, McMaster Indigenous Student Community Alliance, United in Colour, Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, CUPE 3906, Young Communist League and McMaster Middle Eastern Student Society.
The diversity of these clubs reminds us that Israeli Apartheid Week is about more than the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. It’s part of a movement of students who stand for peace and justice, and against colonization, occupation, racism and violence.