The Arab-Israeli conflict will take center-stage at most American universities February 26 – March 3, 2012. “Israel Apartheid Week” is the most politically charged event held on campus each year. As a result, it will shape campus dialogue and not go unnoticed.

During “Israeli Apartheid Week,” members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) approach classmates and ask them to condemn Israel for alleged human rights violations against Palestinians. These activists will tell their peers that Israel is not a legitimate country. They’ll add that Israel denies rights to Palestinians, therefore making it an agent of “apartheid.”

The mock West Bank Barrier, or “apartheid wall,” found on main campus walkways is equally troubling. The wall—courtesy of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars—contains many panels with graphic images and statistics pointing to alleged human rights abuses “committed” by Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Pamphlets and signs reading “End the Occupation,” “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” “Israel is an occupier,” and “Death to Israel,” are also on display.

Many incidents confirm the hostile and equally violent nature of “Israel Apartheid Week.”

In February 2010, a leader of UC Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter rammed a shopping cart into a female Jewish student because she belonged to the pro-Israel club.

Shortly afterward, a female member of UCSD’s Muslim Student Association admitted support for a Second Holocaust during the Q&A segment of David Horowitz’s lecture. (I organized the lecture in May 2010 to counter “Israel Apartheid Week” on my campus.)

Of late, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students clashed at the London School of Economics after a Jewish student sustained injuries after going through the mock Israeli check-point.

The violence and accompanying hate is escalated by campus speakers who proselytize anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.

Speakers like Norman Finkelstein, Angela Davis, Huwaida Arraf, Max Blumenthal, and Amir Abdul Malik – along with CAIR representatives, Palestinian nationalists, and similar extremists – compare Israel to Nazi Germany, among many things.

Despite the prevalence of hate and misinformation during the week, students and community members can counter these lies with the truth about Israel and the Jewish people.

1)      Israel is not an apartheid state

The goal of “Israel Apartheid Week” is to paint Israel as an apartheid state, when in fact, it is the only successful thriving democracy in the Middle East.

The West Bank Barrier, viewed as an “apartheid wall” by Palestinians, was erected in 2002 to suppress terrorist attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah. The barrier prevents incoming terror threats, and has kept Israelis safe since it was first built.

One group has also condemned SJP for associating Israel with “apartheid.” The Vanguard Leadership Group-a coalition of African-American scholars from historically black colleges-has challenged SJP  by taking out ads in college newspapers to dispel myths about Israel being an apartheid state.

“The use of the word ‘apartheid’ by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) in its characterization of Israel is patently false and deeply offensive to all who feel a connection to the state of Israel,” the letter reads.

It adds, “Your organization’s campaign against Israel is spreading misinformation about its policies, fostering bias in the media and jeopardizing prospects for a timely resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Such irresponsibility is a blemish on your efforts.”

2)      The IDF doesn’t commit human rights abuses

SJP and MSA accuse the IDF of deliberately targeting Palestinians in the disputed regions.

Much to the dismay of SJP, the IDF is reputed for being ethical and honorable in its military conduct. Soldiers must abide by a strict moral code, and are expected to dutifully serve the IDF.  Additionally, IDF soldiers “will operate according to the IDF values and orders, while adhering to the laws of the state and norms of human dignity, and honoring the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”  Moreover, IDF soldiers help Palestinians when called upon to do so.

Many in the international community, namely those in the United Nations, have taken every opportunity to disparage the IDF.  Interestingly enough, Richard Goldstone – who  who authored and later retracted the Goldstone Report –lamented how the report unfairly accused the Israeli government of targeting civilians in Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, for example.

3)      Palestinians apologize for Hamas, deny Israel’s right to exist

The narrative surrounding “Israel Apartheid Week” goes like this: Palestinians are oppressed, Israelis are terrorists; Israel illegally occupies Palestine.

Rather than demonizing Israel, why not look into the questionable ties Palestinians boast?

Members of SJP and MSA are reluctant to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah, two entities that sponsor and condone terrorism as a means of accomplishing their goal: eliminating the state of Israel off the map.

Many Palestinians refer to the Hamas Charter for guidance. It reads, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” (Preamble)

It also says, ‘The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.” (Article 7)

All things considered, “Israeli Apartheid Week” can be effectively combated. Students can host an “Israel Peace Week,” bring a “Wall of Truth,” or host pro-Israel speakers on campus.  The truth about Israel can and will persevere.

“Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” – Golda Meir

Gabriella Hoffman :: University of California at San Diego :: San Diego, California :: @Gabby_Hoffman