Monday, April 26, 2010

"Israel Apartheid Week" reaches Latin America

Last month, several universities around the world took part in the sixth yearly "Israel Apartheid Week" (IAW). Three Latin American cities took part in IAW 2010: Bogotá (Colombia), Puebla (Mexico) and Caracas (Venezuela). This is the second year on the list for both Puebla (2008, but not 2009) and Caracas (2009), while it is Bogotá’s first. No other Latin American cities have ever participated.

The programs consisted of the typical activities: flyers, movies, lectures, exhibitions, and events that attack Israel fiercely. Each city that hosts an IAW has its own programming. However, the common denominator among all cities is that many (if not most) of the organizers are stubbornly biased against Israel. They often twist words and facts, and employ manipulation techniques that, as a result, may leave the audience with wrong information. A perfect example of this is found on the description for an event in IAW Puebla, 'Velas por Gaza' ('Candles for Gaza'.) It reads: "En memoria de todos las victimas que han muerto bajo el control, represión, intifadas del Gobierno Sionista de Israel." (Israel Apartheid Week website) Translation: "In memory of all the victims that have died under the control, repression and intifadas of the Zionist Government of Israel."

According to Merriam-Webster, an intifada means "REBELLION, UPRISING; specifically : an armed uprising of Palestinians against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip." Do the organizers in Puebla really know what an intifada is? Perhaps they simply do not understand that the Palestinians own the patent for carrying them out. In addition, they refer to the Israeli government as 'Zionist.' Zionism is the desire of the Jewish people to return to their homeland in the Land of Israel, thus defines by nature the Israeli government. It is also a word that is commonly demonized by anti-Israel groups, who commonly employ it as a synonym of nonsense expressions, including "Israeli apartheid."

Venezuela is one of the few Latin American countries to recognize "the State of Palestine." Full diplomatic relations, including mutual embassies, were established last year. (27/4/09, TeleSurTV) The Venezuelan government even promoted IAW Caracas. Aporrea (a Venezuelan government-owned "news" agency) published an article about the event last month, which begins with "Anótenlo en sus calendarios! – El pueblo bolivariano se solidariza con el pueblo Palestino en La sexta semana internacional contra el apartheid israelí se celebrará en todo el mundo del 1 al 8 de marzo, 2010. […] El año pasado Caracas y más de 40 ciudades de todo el mundo participaron en esta convocatoria, que tuvo lugar tras el brutal asalto contra el pueblo palestino de la franja de Gaza." (Aporrea, 2/3/10) Translation: "Mark down your calendars! – The Bolivarian nation is showing solidarity with the Palestinian people. The sixth international week against Israeli apartheid will be celebrated around the world from the 1st to the 8th of March, 2010. […] Last year, Caracas and more than 40 cities around the world participated in this event, which took place after the brutal assault against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip."

While Mexico and Colombia do not formally recognize a Palestinian state, there is some sort of acknowledgement since each of these countries host a Palestinian Special Delegation.

The Latin American branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center offered the universities involved to "assist in organizing campus activities to promote dialogue and a culture of peace, while isolating voices of hatred and intolerance." (Simon Wiesenthal Center, 18/3/10)

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