A few students at The University of Western Ontario have decided this year to host Israel Apartheid Anti-Semitism Week, protesting Israel's treatment of non-Jews in Israel, Gaza, and the west bank. Understandably, I do not support these efforts. Also, the present members of the Ontario Provincial Parliament unanimously denounced the activity.
John Milloy, the minister of training, colleges and universities, was not in the Legislature for the vote, but he expressed concern at the use of such a loaded term.
"Campuses are places for debate and discussion – they often get into areas that can offend people, can challenge people," said Milloy.
"I think what the goal has to be is to make sure that there's not hatred on campus – nothing that would make a student feel threatened," he said. "I certainly understand the concerns about that term."
I was disappointed by the quality of the arguments/discussion as I wandered among the students during some of the activities.
Pro-Israel arguments such as "You can't find Palestine on the map" or "Israel's creation was approved by the UN" carry little weight with me. After all, there are many maps out there that show ONLY Palestine and do not show Israel at all; it just depends on who makes the maps. And even though the UN seemed to support the creation of Israel in 1947, it has done so much to attack it since then (and especially since 1967) in such illogical and un-even-handed ways, that I would not wish to use the UN as an authority for much of anything.
At the same time, for someone from Gaza to argue "the Israelis are killing my people" is superficial at best.
- Israel withdrew from Gaza unilaterally, leaving behind a substantial infrastructure that was subsequently trashed by the Gazans.
- Israel re-invaded Gaza to halt the firing of rockets into Israel.
- and don't forget that there is a major blockade on the Egyptian side of Gaza. Why aren't Gazans upset about this barrier? At least the Israelis provide electricity to Gaza and allow some exchange.
- Palestinians, in general, left their homes and land at the behest of Arab leaders in 1947. For the most part they were not driven out by the Jews, but rather they were enticed out by promises that the Jews would be driven into the sea.
- Palestinians, again for the most part, were not welcomed in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, etc. Instead they have been kept at refugee status for generations. Why are the arab leaders of these countries not hated by Palestinians for having misled them in the first place and then not having welcomed them later?
Finally, I see nothing wrong with Israeli policies designed to limit the scope and ability of Israel's sworn enemies, people whose charter commits them to the eradication of Israel and Israelis. Understandably that means (in part) keeping such people out of your country or at the very least limiting their actions within Israel. Understandably, too, that means erring on the side of caution.
It would be nice if we had a pollyanna type world and everybody loved each other. I used to sing songs at rallies about such dreams in the 60s and 70s. Sadly, that world doesn't exist and likely never will. In the meantime, it is not apartheid to discriminate against one's sworn enemies.