BERKELEY, CALIF. (JTA) — Competing anti-Israel and pro-Israel weeks are getting underway on more than two dozen North American college campuses.
The seventh annual Israel Apartheid Week officially launches Tuesday, March 1 and continues through the end of the month. Campuses in 12 United States and six Canadian cities are planning events and hosting speakers protesting Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Some campuses have scheduled similar events at other times during the school year.
To counter those efforts, Israel Peace Week will highlight the positive contributions Israel has made to the world at roughly the equivalent number of North American campuses.
The first Israel Apartheid Week was held in Toronto in 2005. This month events are planned on campuses in California, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Missouri, and in four Canadian provinces. The internationally coordinated campaign, which has close ties to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, is meant to draw comparisons between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa, and to harness the same protest mechanisms against Israel that brought down the former South African regime two decades ago.
Activities feature speakers and conferences, but often include political street theater, such as setting up mock Israeli “checkpoints” on campus, or constructing a model of the separation barrier, deemed the “apartheid wall.”
On many of those same campuses, pro-Israel students hand out information near the Israel Apartheid Week events, and host their own conferences and speakers to present Israel’s case. Last week, Israel Peace Week was held on 28 campuses, but pro-Israel students conducted individual efforts at several other colleges and universities as well.