This letter is in regards to an op-ed entitled “Apartheid week or ‘weakness’? , recently distributed by CGNews and republished on Monday, March 15 by Daily News Egypt.
I have been a longtime follower of DNE, a newspaper I respect for its independent and balanced coverage. However, I was disappointed to see this article – highly critical of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) – republished without any space given for countering viewpoints. As many DNE readers may be unfamiliar with IAW, I would have preferred to see alternative perspectives that would allow readers to make up their own mind.
IAW is an annual week of events that takes place in over 40 cities around the world. The aim of IAW is to promote awareness about Israel s policies of discrimination and separation towards Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, those living in the Occupied Territories, and refugees in the diaspora. IAW also aims to bolster support for the international campaign of boycotts, divestments, and sanctions against Israel until it recognizes and respects Palestinian rights. Conscientious people the world over are encouraged, through such forms of solidarity, to join a chorus of global opposition toward Israel s policies, and work towards a future where all inhabitants of the region can live in dignity as equals.
The following two excerpts from the op-ed summarize author Ray Hanania’s criticisms of IAW and its organizers:
“Rejectionist and extremist Palestinians and their Arab allies have launched apartheid week to attack Israel. Although they are a minority they have built up a mirage of public support by exploiting the unanswered anger of the majority in the Arab world.
“Palestinians who support apartheid week do so either out of sinister hatred of Jews, or out of blind, unreasoning anger that simmers because they can t properly vent. The inability to release pent up anger empowers the rejectionist minority but stems from the failures of Palestinians and Arab leadership.
The author’s opinion – to which he is fully entitled – relies on important omissions and distortions.
He fails to mention that IAW enjoys its widest support in Europe, South Africa and North America (where it was first launched), not in the Arab world. He also fails to note that the annual week is not organized exclusively by Palestinians, but rather by a coalition of pro-Palestinian groups and activists that are not limited to any ethnic constituency, and include a growing number of Jews who are critical of Israeli government policies.
IAW organizers have repeatedly asserted that their efforts are motivated by a belief in universal principles – such as anti-racism, dignity, and self-determination – and respect for international law and human rights, not by narrow feelings of patriotism and self-righteousness. I’m sure many of those involved in IAW would be prepared, in fact eager, to defend themselves against charges of extremism, hatred, and irrationality if given the chance.
I understand that an independent newspaper committed to balanced and objective coverage may choose not to take a position on this issue. But it can certainly present alternative viewpoints in an effort to encourage critical debate, while remaining committed to the highest journalistic standards.
In this vein, I was impressed by other news coverage of IAW, including Haaretz (http://is.gd/aID3x), AlJazeera English (http://is.gd/aID7a), The Toronto Star (http://is.gd/aIDbO), and The Jerusalem Post (http://is.gd/aIDqg). None of these outlets endorse IAW and they all highlight the controversy around using the term “apartheid to describe Israeli government policies and practices. But in doing so they have invited dialogue and discussion about IAW and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict more broadly, which I would like to have seen reflected in the pages of Daily News Egypt.
Best regards,Ahmad ShokrOrganizer of Israeli Apartheid Week.