Israeli Apartheid week to face opposition
Sakeena Suliman | The Vuvuzela

24 February 2012

This year’s eighth international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is set to face some opposition in the face of an Israeli envoy.

Israel’s Public Diplomacy Ministry is set to send an envoy of Israelis to represent the state against the apartheid label said an article published in the Jerusalem Post, on February 19.

But Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa condemned it in a press release, saying it was an attempt to undermine the upcoming IAW running from March 5 until March 9.

Rebecca Luton, Wits Palestine Solidarity Committee’s (PSC) chairperson, says,  “It’s a refection that Israel is taking the charge of being an apartheid regime seriously. Unfortunately it’s responding by dispatching envoys to justify that classification rather than try to end apartheid in Israel.”

The ministry is planning to send 100 trained Israelis from different sectors in society to different college campuses around the world where IAW will take place. The mission, titled “Faces of Israel” will be spilt into 20 groups that will participate in conferences and panels, and speak directly to college students, in Johannesburg, Cape Town, New York, Boston, Los Angeles and other cities.

Boaz Valkin from the South African Union of Jewish Students says he has limited knowledge of the delegation.

“They should be given the opportunity to be heard as dialogue, engagement and open honest discussion is the only way to resolve the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

Despite this, Luton says 2012’s IAW is said to be the biggest it has ever been with a “nationwide buzz two weeks before it is even meant to start.”

“We not only expect a bigger turnout for events and activities but also a far more active involvement by ordinary students.

This is partly because of the great IAW line-up but also because students are far more conscientised around the issue with more and more organisations adopting BDS of Israel resolutions,” says Luton.

Witsies can expect two cultural activities and a movie screening during the week as well as an interactive art installation on the library lawns.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, a Wits PhD, student and chairperson of Wits’ Post Graduate Association, has begun a speaking tour to Europe as part of IAW and will be uploading daily reports on Facebook.

Last year’s IAW saw 90 cities worldwide and nine universities in South Africa participating.

This year, Luton says, over 25 different civil societies, political and student groups such as the South African Students Congress, Kaleidoscope, South African Council of Churches, to name a few, are getting involved.