Israeli Apartheid Week: The shame of UK students

Cross posted from the blog of David Collier

During these weeks across the UK, universities are holding ‘Israeli apartheid week’. I have sat and viewed with revulsion as images have emerged of students on campus being fed raw radical Islamic propaganda. It has turned into a show, with each of the universities trying to outdo each other. This year Cambridge received praise for placing a military checkpoint in the centre of the Sidgwick lecture site at the University.

Did I just call it raw radical Islamic propaganda? Yes, I did, but more on that later.

Just last night (24th Feb) I was at SOAS to hear yet another incessant and libellous attack against Israel. The usual tales were told, replete with examples of how Israel is randomly shooting at people in the street. The evening started with the host boasting about being able to recognise Zionists in the crowd and deliberately not letting them have the microphone when questions are tabled. They actually took photos at one event on Monday of a person they identified as ‘Zionist’ who had his hand up constantly.

What they did is take pictures of him and Photoshopped different things into his hand and shared it amongst themselves. What type of university believes this is acceptable? SOAS does, we know Kings does too. In Oxford we have seen claims of rabid antisemitism. In Cambridge some simply want to intimidate the Jewish presence into submission first. In Westminster and others across the land, I’ve spoken to Jews, Zionists and Israelis who hide their identity whilst in University. This is the ‘safe space’ that has been created on UK campuses in 2016; safe to intimidate, safe to scare, safe to shout down, safe to silence, safe to lie and safe to hate.

Israeli apartheid week is a recruiting tool for BDS on campus. It aims to flatten the complex situation in the Middle East into the binary black/white issue of Apartheid. If Israel can successfully be labelled an apartheid state, then the reservoir of the anti-Apartheid sentiment across the globe can be reawakened and directed towards Israel. Ironically, it is in universities, the very places that simple issues are meant to be opened up and investigated, one of the most complex and multi-faceted conflicts on the planet is reduced to propaganda rhetoric and blatantly false, one-sided accusations of absolute guilt.


Let me firstly deal with this ridiculous and slanderous notion.

Take two brothers, both Arabs living in the British mandate in 1946. How they got there, how long their families were there is not relevant. According to the UN definition of the Palestinian refugee, even if the family had come looking for work in 1945 from Syria, they count as Palestinian. So do their children and grandchildren, even if they themselves were all born and lived all their days back on Syria or Lebanese soil. So be it. These are just elements that contribute to the absurdity of the conflict, and have to be accepted as factual without adhering to any ethical, moral or logical position.

During 1948, the two brother’s lives took different paths. One, having moved to a village near Haifa that worked in friendship with the local Jewish towns, remained a passive bystander as civil war erupted in the region. The civil war erupted because the Arab population, egged on by regional Arab dictatorships, had refused to accept the UN decision on Jewish independence over any part of the land. Some people do argue that the Jewish acceptance of the deal was a ploy, and the Jewish national aspirations dictated that the area should turn violent regardless. This too is irrelevant. Factually we know the Arabs rejected the deal and turned violent, the Jews accepted the deal and responded to the violence by defending against those that openly sought to destroy them.

The other brother had gone to work elsewhere, in a town that was infiltrated by irregular Arab forces in very early 1948. The irregular Arab forces were arranged, manned and financed by Arab states such as Egypt, Syria and Jordan. These fighters came into the British Mandate area with the express purpose of killing Jews and destroying the UN partition plan. They recruited as they went and their actions resulted in significant losses to the Jewish forces in the conflict. We are not sure if the brother assisted in the civil conflict, stood as an idle supporter of the Arab forces or looked in horror at a conflict he wanted no part of. We cannot know this and it isn’t relevant, as he was brought into the conflict by those around him who were fighting. The village/town he was in eventually succumbed to the Jewish fighting forces. The irregulars left the area and some of the residents of the local villages fled, some were expelled; again it is not relevant and we have no way of knowing which precise description works with the brother in question.

We do know he ended up in the West Bank, in a refugee camp in Tulkarm. But he was now a refugee of Palestine, living in the lands given to the Palestinians by the UN. Again don’t worry about the absurdity of the situation of being a refugee inside your own land, you just have to nod politely and accept it. This is simply the way the Arab states (along with the soviet bloc), strong-armed the UN and the West into dealing with the humanitarian crisis that emerged from both the civil and regional conflict of 1948/9.

Today one brother lives as an Arab citizen of the democratic state of Israel. He freely votes. He is, without much argument, part of the freest Muslim community in the entire middle east. All of the neighbouring states are Muslim majority states and not one provides the same type of freedoms as Israel does. Again this is factual. His life is not perfect but the other brother has not been so lucky. That brother has been dictated to for most of his life. He has been used as a pawn and in 1967 he was once again thrown into conflict as Jordan, the nation who had taken his town, attacked Israel during the Six Day war. Israel captured the territory.

It doesn’t really matter how you view this. It doesn’t matter what you think the cause of the failures to find a peaceful solution are. It doesn’t matter where you wish to lay the blame, whether with Arab intransigence or Israeli strategy. All this is irrelevant. These are merely opinions and each is entitled to their own. I would prefer it if those that suggest they are Pro-Palestinian were actually to spend their time taking actions that were pro-Palestinian (like building, investing educating) rather than measures that are simply anti-Israel and divisive, but this is their free choice to make. I would also prefer it if the stories that were spread around, actually had basis in fact, but more of this in a moment.

What is certain, what is factual, what is beyond argument, is this:

What separates these two brothers, the Israeli Arab and the Palestinian refugee. The free and the ‘occupied’. What divides them and has caused this separation? Whatever it is and however you wish to explain it, they are brothers. It is not a binary ‘black’, ‘white’ issue. It cannot possibly be an issue of race.

Therefore, the argument for Apartheid fails the most simple of tests.

Given the geographic source of so much of the hatred, this brilliant infographic from Edgar Davidson highlights the sheer absurdity of the claims of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and genocide:


Disseminating lies

Now onto myth-making. Spreading radical Islamic propaganda. The false accusations that unite the cause.

During this week, the anti-Israeli PR machine goes into overdrive. At this time each year, the factories that output false stories about Israel, regurgitate everything in their arsenal and push it onto the anti-Israel activist camp. From there is gets shared in the hope that revulsion at Israel’s ‘barbarity’, will swell the numbers supporting the ’cause’. So on Monday, on the first day of the ‘celebration’, the Middle East Media News Centre published an item about Israel deliberately opening the dams to flood Gaza. The source of the story (The Palestinian News and Info Agency -WAFA) had released a similar story almost one year before, also at the start of UK Apartheid week. February is a time for possible heavy rain in Israel. Two days ago a shopping mall roof in Be’er Sheva, just a short drive from Gaza, collapsed due to flooding.

So on the 23/02, at about 21:00, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website shared the story. Within an hour it had almost 300 shares.



The error was brought to their attention almost immediately. People posted on the site, sent messages and clearly highlighted the entire story was based on a lie. The Al Jazeera retraction from the year before was brought to their attention. As of noon on the 24/02 it has been shared 1000 times.

What is also worthy of note is some of the responses of those who entered into discussion on the question of ‘veracity’. ‘So what’, was the general response. It is indicative of the BDS movement as a whole. ‘Truth doesn’t matter. Sentencing has been passed, ‘Israel is guilty – get out of our way and let us pass the punishment.’ The classic witch hunt. BDS is the mob outside the door with the torches, screaming ‘Burn the witch’, ‘burn the witch’.

As the post reached 1000 shares (that’s 1000!), the PSC responded to the criticism, by posting a ‘myth-busting article’ on the story from the year before. A post from Feb 2014 by the ‘Palestine Project. It went on to claim the ‘dam’ story was indeed true and went into great detail as it set out to prove it. Except the PSC clearly hadn’t read their own source, because in their link, the one the PSC posted, there was a note to suggest it had been corrected. The correction led to a page that apologised for the lie:


1000 shares. How many views is that? How many people added this accusation to the already long list of false ideas they have about Israeli actions? Last night at SOAS people were told that Israelis randomly kill civilians in the street, yesterday they read on the PSC website that Israelis deliberately flood refugees. The PR machine churns out ever-increasing slander and the Israel haters lap up every word. This is what our universities give a platform too?

And this of course is the result.


The shame of UK students

This is the ‘exploration of truth’ that results in Jews being afraid to identify themselves on campus. Who justifies this?

And what of the PSC? Well, they disseminate propaganda indistinguishable from the PR machine of Hamas and hand it to activists on campus so they can convert vulnerable students to the ’cause’.

Even when they have been outed, they simply take the piece down without comment. But the damage is done – 1000 shares.  The article on the flooding details the original source of the slander as being from Gaza’s CDD (Civil Defence Directorate). Which means this is raw Hamas propaganda. CDD are one of the groups used to claim the Shifa hospital incident was the work of Israelis rather than misfiring Hamas rockets.  (It is no surprise the PSC have had bank accounts closed and have been designated a ‘terrorist group’ themselves on the World-Check database.)

They don’t even apologise or correct their members once *they know* they have disseminated lies.

The question is not whether or not PSC have a right to disseminate disinformation. The question is simply why universities provide an incubation chamber for Jew hatred? Why is Apartheid week supported by the public purse? Is it right that Jewish students at Cambridge, who paid for the right to be there, should have to face the intimidation that they faced this week?


But let us not just focus on the universities, let us look at the students too – the naive ‘do-gooders’ lining up for apartheid week, in addition to the radical left and Islamic societies. As we look around the world, scores of worthwhile causes scream out for attention. But these students have not just chosen a toxic cause, they’ve picked one that is dangerous and actually perpetuates rather than solves a conflict. Characteristic of an age where research, truth and depth no longer count, our students rally behind lies that at source evolve from the minds of PR gurus from an extremist group that persecutes and subjugates its own people.

Anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism they cry, and I happen to agree with them. You can dislike nationalism without specifically picking on Jews. But go figure the SNP’s position on this.

How about an ‘anti-Africa week’. It isn’t racist. We could boycott all African products because well, Africa is a continent that knows almost no human rights. We can boycott anyone coming from Africa because their institutions support human rights violations and war crimes like genocide (actual rather than imagined), the sex trade, female genital mutilation and so on. Only good Africans, that is, Africans willing to reject the African continent as being barbaric would be allowed to get up and speak. Any African who takes pride in his nation, in his culture would be shouted down. Remember – it isn’t racist because we have the ‘good Africans’ on our side.

As students at our universities have historically lined up behind civil rights movements and fought for racial equality, now they align behind a hyped-up cause of a people who are actually in control of their own destiny. They vote to boycott, spread the hatred and share the lies. Rather than strive for a better life and a peaceful outcome, the Palestinian cause today is everything but productive.

The targets that BDS and Israeli Apartheid Week have in their sights are Jews.

The fact that some UK students are actively helping them, or sitting idly by and ignoring what is going on, is their great shame.

26 replies »

  1. Disgusting racists. How they are allowed to do this, bearing in mind the public funding that goes to these universities, is beyond me. It’s pure and simple anti-Semitism.

  2. Three quick observations on your well reasoned post. Article II of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 1973 provides the internationally accepted definition of “apartheid.” This crime can only be committed by one “racial group of persons” on another. So, you can only accuse Israel of “apartheid” if you believe that Jews are a “racial group of persons” – and if you do, you are in some pretty despicable company. It follows that whatever oppression, real or imagined, Israel just cannot be apartheid – unless you ignore the internationally recognized definition and make up your own for the purpose of tarring Israel.
    Second, the UN never gave any lands to Palestinian Arabs for one simple reason. It lacks the authority to do so under its Charter. Article 80 prohibited the UN from diminishing rights granted “peoples” under existing Mandates from the League of Nations. This was specifically targeted to protect the rights of the Jewish people – and that section of Article 80 was commonly referred to as the “Palestine clause.” Only the Jewish Agency had the power to compromise on those rights to settlement on behalf of the Jewish people – as an aside, if you want to see what a real “right of return” looks like as opposed to the invented Palestinian one, read the Mandate on immigration and settlement rights. The Jewish Agency expressed its willingness to give up some territorital rights for a secure state living in peace with its neighbors by agreeing to the 1947 non-binding partition resolution – which, most people forget also called for an economic union between the Jewish and Arab states that were to result. We know that this partition offer was rejected by the Arabs and the Jewish Agency’s offer became a nullity. At the termination of the Mandate for Palestine in 1948, the Jewish people then came into the promise of the Mandate of the reconstitution of their national home: soveriengty over the remaining Mandate territory as its borders were internationally recognized in May 1948 (which is why Jordan was not part of that equation, having become independent in 1946). International law, under the doctrine of uti possidetis juris, recognized that sovereigny even if israel could not exercize its sovereignty over it all – so long as it did not affirmatively abandon it. In all of this, the UN has nothing whatever to say, as a matter of international law and under the powers vested in its Charter. Sometimes it pays to read the underlying documents to clear away the cobwebs formed from false or propaganda based assumptions of what should be rather than of what is.
    Finally, you lose the battle by adopting the other side’s terminology, and I think that battle is worth fighting. The only thing remaining from Jordan’s illegal and internationally unrecognized 19 year occupation is the name they created for Judea and Samaria: West Bank. Prior to the 1950s, the area appeared on Western maps, and was expressly referred to in the 1947 partition agreement, as Judea and Samaria. These are not only Biblical names but the accepted Western names for centuries. Their restoration is nothing more than the rejection of a brief renaming of land to cover its Jewish history, the Jews having been ethnically cleansed. The person using “West Bank” should be the one to explain why names given by the indigenous population and used by the West for millenia are ignored in favor of a name invented by an illegal aggressor whose brief occupation ended nearly a half century ago. An American parallel, perhaps, is the restoration of the indigenous name of Mount Denali for Mount McKinley.

  3. “you can only accuse Israel of “apartheid” if you believe that Jews are a “racial group of persons” – and if you do, you are in some pretty despicable company. ”

    I regard myself as an agnostic by religion and a Jew by race – just as the Nazis and Vichy would have done. An idea can’t be responsible for the people who adopt it – Hitler was in favour of full employment!

    • PDW: The point I was trying to make is that there can be no such thing as the Jewish race – unless you redefine “race” as something so vague as to be meaningless – as opposed to the Jewish people – which includes peoples of every color and among whom are some percentage of converts. You wouldn’t speak of an American race or an English race would you? So why would you claim membership in a Jewish race? In ths argument, the precise use of language is very important. There is no need for anyone to accept or internalize false categories imposed by others, especially Nazis or Vichy.

      • So we need to redefine race in order to discuss the veracity of the Apartheid smear, which we all know was meant to paint a distortion of actual Israeli reality.

        You guys are a fucking blast.

        • I am not sure why the concept is so difficult to understand. Jews cannot constitute a “racial group of persons” – the prerequisite for using the “apartheid” label – no redefinitions of race needed. Perhaps the simplest way to understand why the concept of a Jewish race is nonsensical is to use the example of converts. Can anyone seriously pretend that you can “convert” from one race to another? You should also take a look at Patrick Daniel Moynihan’s full speech against the UN’s Zionism is racism resolution from 1975, it’s easily found on YouTube. He states the case far more eloquently than I, but the argument itself is pretty straightforward: since the Jewish people are simply not a “racial group of persons,” whatever they accuse Israel of doing, even if it were true, cannot be “apartheid” – end of story.
          If you want to cede the label battle to your opponent and instead defend Israel’s actual conduct as not amounting to apartheid (for all the reasons and using all the examples we know), that’s your tactical decision. But why not short-circuit the entire “apartheid” argument by forcing its proponents to defend their necessary claim that Jews are a “race” without their relying on the same arguments the Nazis used? They should be put on the rhetorical defensive, not you.

          • The concept of distinct races generally has fallen out of favour. Your attempt to define something so nebulous in order to exclude Jews who wish to consider themselves as part of a race, to translate the Hebrew עם ישראל is like drawing a line on water.

            • Margie: I am not trying to define Jews out of the race category. I am simply pointing out that Jews cannot be a race by any existing definition. If you can voluntarily join a group, it is difficult to understand how that group can qualify as a race which is – whether you adopt the pseudo-scientifc concept or the sociological one – a group with inherent characteristics.
              Also, the context of my point was the campus “Israel Apartheid Week” antics. I don’t think any student, when asked, will willingly sign on to a concept (the Jewish race) whose proponents were Nazis and their descendants.
              There is a fundamental difference between the concept of the Jewish people (analogous to speaking of the American people) and the Jewish race (which is a now discredited category without any real world basis – though that is not to say that all too much horror has come of its application). I would have thought the difference obvious, but, given the varying responses to my initial comment, I was mistaken. If some people want, in spite of logic and history, to consider themselves part of a Jewish “race,” that’s their business I suppose, but it does strike me as perverse.

                • Margie: I agree that people can self-define as they wish, even in the extreme case of the NAACP official in Seattle, Washington who self-identified as black even though she was white – she resigned because no one bought into her self-definition. I thought that I was pointing out something entirely unremarkable, namely that the concept of race generally, but when it applied to the Jewish people in particular, is a discredited pseudo-scientific concept with a sinister past and currently a debatable-to-useless sociological concept – why, for instance, is President Obama deemed black when his mother was white? As race is supposedly based on inherent characteristics, one would assume that you cannot “convert” from one race into another and that observation alone would end the discussion of the existence of a Jewish race. I also thought that by preferring the peoplehood concept to that of race – and contrasting an American people (which everyone accepts) with an American race (by which, I had thought but, given some of the reactions, I am no longer entrely sure, people would be shocked), it would clarify the actual and historical relationship between Jews and others.
                  The practical result of my argument was a straightworward way to put those who rely on the “apartheid” slur on the defensive by forcing them into the “intellectual” company of some very disreputable people – and betting they would run from the slur rather than sully their identity as anti-racist, anti-imperialist, post-colonials (or whatever). But, and here was my larger mistake, I didn’t realize that there are still Jews who have no issue with the “race” label and will wear it proudly. While I disagree with that view, I can only try to persuade. With at least one commenter, I have been a spectacular failure in that endeavor.

                  • Charlie when it comes to the ‘apartheid’ slur used against Israel the slur is factually wrong, it has no basis in reality.
                    It is a LIE.

                    There is no need to resort to pseudointellectual and specious remarks about what or who constitutes a race.

                    • Gerald: I agree, of course, that using the apartheid slur against Israel is factually wrong. What I am suggesting is that there is a more basic argument that can be made: the concept of apartheid doesn’t, by its own definition, even apply to what Israel does. It’s as if someone was using the category of a “cow” to decribe a “cat.” It is factually wrong but it is an entirely inappropriate framework in which to discuss a cat.
                      There is a secondary advantage – aside from the obvious Nazi association of considering the Jews a race – because the Arabs (and others) justify their stand against Jewish self-determination in part on the grounds that the Jews are a religious group and not an ethnicity or race. So, by raising the issue of whether or not there is a Jewish race, you can point out that their Arab fellow-travelers disagree with them.
                      Anyway, if you wish to go right to a parsing of Israeli democracy versus South African-style apartheid to show zero commonality, I am not saying that’s wrong. All I’m saying is that you have other arguments to make that highlight the incoherence of the apartheid slur.

                    • ” It’s as if someone was using the category of a “cow” to decribe a “cat.” It is factually wrong but it is an entirely inappropriate framework in which to discuss a cat.”

                      Charlie if someone were to argue in such an illogical fashion I would listen politely to them and then suggest that it would be in both of our best interests if they were to “Fuck Off!”
                      Their best interests because they are clearly an idiot.
                      My best interests because listening, or reading, such obvious nonsense would be a waste of my time.

                      Of course if they were to use such interminably long sentences with little meaningful substance as you do, I would probably also lose my will to live.

                    • Gerald: In a roundabout way, we are actually in agreement. It is precisely because I do not accept the concept of a Jewish race, that applying the apartheid label when discussing Israel is the equivalent – to me – of applying a cow label when discussing a cat. It is a nonsensical discussion. You can always point out that a cat doesn’t chew its cud and other facts, but in my view you only get to that point if you concede their label and move to an “even if your label were correct…” style of argument..
                      I recognize that for those who do in fact hold the Jews to be a race, or are not interested in the legal definition of “apartheid,” my argument is idiotic or beside the point. If you don’t accept the premise, then you are not going to accept the reasoning deriving from it.

            • Gabriel: You are confusing two ideas. Jews are not a race, and all you need to do is look up the various definitions for what is, frankly, a discredited concept. That they suffer from discrimination because they are a kin group with certain shared traditions, history or moral outlooks does not make them a race any more than being American is a racial category. Jews have been victimized for much of their history, but that fact does not require you to accept either the false categories imposed by others to rationalize their attacks.

          • I am not sure what’s so difficult about the concept that Israel simply isn’t an Apartheid state based on how much a part of society Arabs in Israel happen to be.

            Telling people how they should think is a stupid tactic.

            • If someone were to accuse you of being a Martian, you could defend your identity as Earthling by listing all of the genetic traits and historic characteristics that establish you are from Earth – or you can simply point out that you are not from Mars so the fundamental assumption underlying the accuation is wrong. I am suggeting the shorter, second option as the easier argument. It does not foreclose the first but simply points out the false framing of the question.

              • Actually, Charlie, I would think to myself, “I am an Earthling, and this guy doesn’t want to admit it. Oh well. That guy sure sounds like a Moron to me.” And then I would tell him to Fuck Off because that is what I am wont to do.

                Chuck, you don’t get to define me. You don’t get to tell me what a Zionist is. You don’t get to tell me what my Judaism means. You can sit there and wallow in self pity that no one takes you seriously. You can write many very long missives that make no fucking sense. You can do whatever you want, Chuck, but you won’t get anywhere telling me that I don’t know me.

                You guys are amazing. Willing to argue over semantics all the while abusing world history in order to suit your politics.

                Go fuck yourself with a chainsaw, Charlie. Sideways.

                • That’s seems to be a rather overwrought reaction, and I am not sure what nerve I may have hit to unleash it. I am not telling anyone how to think and I’m certainly not telling you who or what you are. I am only suggesting that before one gets into the details of refuting the “apartheid” slur, you engage the person in first defining the term since most people appear to use it rather casually – and as I have tried to make clear, in my view the term itself is inapplicable to Jews because of the difference I see between a “people” and a “race.” Others disagree, obvoiusly. Ultimately, I’m suggesting a debating tactic to appeal to those people who actually are open-minded but have little information or context. I agree that if you are dealing with a close-minded ideologue, then discussion is pointless but that was not the audience I had in mind.

  4. Factual correction on Mr. Davidson’s graphic: It is fairly well know that Afghanastan does indeed have one remaining Jew. His name is Zablon Simintov of Kabul. He’s in his 50’s and I’ve read each Pesach a Jewish group in America pays UPS $600 to send him a few boxes of Matzot. Israel has offered to pay for his Aliyah but he is a native Afghani and wishes to remain.

  5. You see, I agree with so much of what you wrote, but then you spoilt it by blaming Islam (which you never explicitly said but I can’t think of any other reason for your continual repetition of the word ‘Islamic’ – 10 times – as opposed to your five mentions of Hamas, which is one particular organisation not representative of the global Muslim community) and endorsing legal action as a sensible tactic (which is the topic of my separate blog post here: