People in 40 cities from Montreal in Canada to Cape Town in South African and further afar launched on Monday, March 1, the sixth international Israeli Apartheid Week to protest Israeli rights violations against Palestinians.
"(The event) takes place following a year of incredible successes for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on the global level," the organizers wrote on their website.
The global event features a series of lectures and rallies to highlight the Palestinian plight and protest Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.
It sheds light on issues such as the Nakba – the establishment of Israel on the rubble of the Palestinian state – Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, labor apartheid and the separation wall Israel is building in the occupied West Bank.
IAW said this year’s event is a demonstration of international opposition to Israel’s practices, which gained momentum after the Gaza war.
Israeli troops killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and injured thousands in three weeks of air, land and sea attacks in late 2008 and early 2009.
A UN fact-finding committee headed by world-renowned judge Richard Goldstone, a Jew, had accused Israel of committing war crimes during the onslaught.
The first IAW was organized by the University of Toronto’s Arab Students’ Collective in 2005 in order to show solidarity with the people of Palestine and other oppressed nations.
In 2006, IAW had spread to Montreal and Oxford and added five more locations in 2007, including New York.
In 2008, 19 additional locations were added and by 2009 the event was being held in 27 cities.
This year, over 40 cities are part in the awareness campaign.
Dax D’Orazio, media coordinator for Students Against Israeli Apartheid at Carleton University, said the event also aims at activating Israel boycott.
"(We are working) with the university community to launch a socially responsible investment policy that will work against investment in groups that violate labor rights and international law," D’Orazio told the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post.
D’Orazio brushed asides the usual accusations of being anti-Semitic just for criticizing Israeli practices.
"(This criticism) is part of an ongoing campaign to blur the line between the advocacy of Palestinian rights and anti-Semitism."
The Students Against Israeli Apartheid group sees as a goal making Carleton University the first Canadian university to completely divest from Israeli companies.
"What they advocate is boycott, divestment, and sanctions to pressure Israel to abide by international law."
In February 2009, Hampshire College became the first US institute of higher education to divest from companies involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Divestment efforts and academic boycotts of Israel have largely gained ground in the past few years.
The United Methodist Church has received five separate petitions calling for divestment from companies that support or profit from the Israeli occupation.
(IslamOnline.net and newspapers)