Monday, April 17, 2006

"Palestine Awareness Week"


For those of you who didn't know, April 17th - 21st is Palestine Awareness Week here at the U of I. Or, "Israel, Palestine, and the New Apartheid Regime", if you'd rather use the Arab Student Association's name for it.

Amomg the many events planned to supposedly commemorate the plight of the poor, oppressed Palestinians, most seem to do little more than demonize Israel.

Take the lecture scheduled for Thursday evening, for instance: "Israel and South Africa-- The Apartheid Connection", given by Francis Boyle, who in addition to being a "scholar" in international law and human rights, also happens to teach law courses here. Or, "From Ethnic Cleansing to Equal Rights: On Conflict Resolution", given by a Poli. Sci. professor at ISU. Or, "Resisting the New Apartheid: Divestment and Solidarity", led by Fayyad Sbaihat, head of the Palestine Solidarity Movement and its Divestment Campaign.

These events don't help make the case for Palestinian statehood. They simply divert attention from the fact that the Palestinians have done absolutely nothing worthy of our support. But, I suppose the Palestine Awareness Week calendar would look quite empty if the ASA and other groups sponsoring it had actually decided to focus on Palestinian contrubtions to the peace process instead of promulgating anti-Israel mythology.

What bothers me is knowing that lots of people will flock to these lectures and blindly accept everything they hear there as fact becaue professors and other "intellectuals" tell them it is. That they'll believe all of the lies they're told about Israel and the Palestinians because, if Francis Boyle and Jamal Nasser say that Israel's an apartheid state and engages in ethnic cleansing against Arabs, then it must be true.

Okay, that isn't the only thing that really gets me about PAW. It annoys me to no end that Israel doesn't receive as much support here on campus as the Palestinians do, simply because victimhood sells, even if it's made-up. It almost seems as if people would rather believe that the IDF eats innocent Palestinian kids for breakfast and that Israel makes its Arab citizens drive cars with different license plates than accept the more prosaic reality that the Palestinian have primarily been the victims of their own actions. And anyone who disagrees with the myth of the Oppressed Palestinian People is generally considered a hater of some sort.

The truth is that the Palestinians have never been a nation, and, given their current rate of self-destruction, probably never will be. Israel does not engage in either apartheid or ethnic cleansing against its non-Jewish citizens or the Palestinians. Any statements to the contrary are lies, and to know that these lies are being espoused by the very people we're supposed to be entrusting our intellectual futures to seriously scares me.

In all honesty, Palestine Awareness Week appears to be much more of an anti-Israel hatefest and exercise in academic antisemitism than a call for pro-Palestinian solidarity and peace with Israel. And everyone seems to be okay with it. I can't believe how blind people can be sometimes. Especially after things like this.

But no one's asking me.

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