In what has now become an annual fixture on many college campuses, pro-Palestinian activists are once again staging their so-called “Israel Apartheid Week” at universities around the country (and beyond) beginning on February 24th.
The event is often marked by the staging of street theater, including forcing students to pass through mock checkpoints and erecting an “apartheid wall” which Israel calls a security barrier that has successfully contributed to keeping West Bank Palestinian suicide bombers out of Israeli streets, buses and restaurants. Here is an example of one such display on the campus of UCLA in 2010:
The focus of the week-long activities by the Palestinians’ supporters is to equate Israel with apartheid-era South Africa and call for a boycott of Israel.
Pro-Israel activists are countering with suggestions of how students can combat the message and present context the “apartheid week” organizers don’t include in their presentations. Among the more dramatic ideas: dressing up as a suicide bomber replete with explosive belt, AK-47 and keffiyeh, dramatizing a bomb scene in a cafe, and erecting a “Wall of Truth” to counter the “apartheid wall.”
These are among the suggestions posted online by pro-Israel groups and activists:
Dress up as a suicide bomber: That’s a suggestion offered by British philosophy student Eylon Aslan-Levy who wrote a partially satirical blog post titled “Banging your head against the (apartheid) wall” in the Times of Israel. “Throw on an explosive belt, wrap your face in a keffiyeh and grab an AK-47. Run towards the Wall at full speed, shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ When you hit the Wall, fall over and rub your head, muttering ‘D’oh!’ in the style of Homer Simpson,” he quipped. “Protest loudly about how the racist Zionist regime is impeding your freedom of movement. Hand out business cards with a link to your suicide video on YouTube.”
“For good effect, have a friend drive over an ambulance laden with explosives; cry that it is unfair to stop the vehicle for inspection,” Aslan-Levy wrote.
Recreate a cafe bomb scene: “Set up tables, chairs and a bar with an espresso machine, then knock everything over, sprinkle shrapnel everywhere, splatter fake blood on the floor, sprinkle some crushed glass, and include some rubber limbs – including those of children – for good measure,” Aslan-Levy wrote in his caricature of the political street theater the pro-Palestinian protesters stage. “Have friends sprawl on the floor and play dead; have others, acting as paramedics, declare them dead on the scene.”
Hand out sweets in the street: “When skeptical members of the public ask what the catch is, tell them you are celebrating a suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv nightclub,” Aslan added as a third possibility.
To conclude, Aslan-Levy admitted his suggestions “would all be rather distasteful. In fact, a ‘Palestinian Terrorism Week’ would be grotesque, disgusting and rather quite outrageous. Indeed, any representation of the atrocities that made this ugly wall necessary would be in bad taste: one could not make the message visual without also being graphic, or graphic without being crass.”
The Wall of Truth banner: The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has produced an 8-foot by 8-foot “Wall of Truth banner” delivered to students who request it presenting counter-arguments to what the group calls the “top 10 myths of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Those myths include “Jews have little historical connection to Israel,” “Israel is an apartheid state,” and “Israel’s security fence is an ‘apartheid wall.'”
The ZOA writes of “Israel Apartheid week,” “It is full of hate and lies about the Jewish State, and usually includes big banners and graphics that libel Israel in the middle of campus.”
Juxtaposing photos from Israel and Muslim world: Individuals on social media are also posting their suggestions using the hashtag #IsraelApartheidWeek (both pro- and anti-Israel activists are expressing their opinions at that location.)
One Twitter user with the handle @MrsShitrit – who describes herself as an Israel supporter from London – placed photos to try to dispel the forced segregation myth, showing an Israeli Arab woman shopping among Jews in an Israeli mall along with photos purporting to show the poor living conditions of minorities in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
She also posted a widely-seen depiction of a segregated highway in Saudi Arabia pointing non-Muslims away from Mecca, suggesting the unfair targeting of Israel by campus groups.
Posters celebrating achievements of Israeli Arabs: The pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon prepared a poster campaign for use during “apartheid week” to refute some of the activists’ claims. Included are Israeli Arab beauty contest winners, reality show contestants, diplomats and military leaders. Here is one example: