The "Nakba": A Driving Force Behind U.S. Anti-Israel Activity in 2008
Other Anti-Israel Activity
Posted: June 3, 2008
In addition to the focus on the "Nakba," many anti-Israel events in 2008 have been marked by accusations of Israeli "apartheid" and "ethnic cleansing," and have invoked offensive comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany. Israel's treatment of the Palestinians has been compared to Nazi Germany's policy toward Jews, including events held under the banner of "Holocaust Awareness," which included references to Gaza as a "ghetto" and claims that Israel is in the process of committing a "Palestinian genocide." Additionally, anti-Israel groups have continued to draw parallels to South African apartheid and referred to the security barrier/fence as an "apartheid-wall."
The Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine hosted a "Never Again? Palestinian Holocaust" week from May 7-15, featuring a wide range of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic speakers, including Amir Abdul Malik Ali, Mohammad al-Asi and Ilan Pappe, professor at the University of Exeter in the UK and author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.
MSU released an official statement to explain the purpose of the "Palestinian Holocaust" week and attempted to reassure the university that the event would not be one-sided because of Pappe's involvement: "As an Israeli, he will provide a balanced perspective that sheds light on both sides of the issue." During his speech, however, Pappe told the audience that "the real ambition of Israelis at large and Zionists is to get rid of all the Palestinians who live in Israel. That is the Zionist formula – you get it from cradle to grave." He also charged that Zionists "used Europe's guilt after the Holocaust" and "used ethnic cleansing to get more of Palestine."
Several other speakers at the week-long event advanced harsh anti-Israel agendas. Mohammad al-Asi referred to Israel as a "hateful and an expansionist militant nation state" and spoke about how Jews left ghettos in Europe only to create ghettos in Israel: "You began to build a wall, a barrier, around the country you are living in, isn't this a grand definition of a ghetto!" He also blamed the hostility of neighboring Arab countries as "a reaction to all the misery and all the hostility" that Jews brought from Europe.
Amir Abdul Malik Ali argued that Israel is bound to be defeated because "Israelis have suffered major losses when they went up against Muslims…Every time we fought for Islam, we won."
During "Holocaust Awareness Week" in late April at Emory University in Atlanta, demonstrators accused Israel of committing a Holocaust against the Palestinian people. Signs and banners around campus included slogans like "Free Palestine" and remarks by Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai that had mentioned the word 'shoah.' A letter was passed around that thanked the organizers of "Holocaust Awareness Week," noting that this week should serve as encouragement to avert the "next Holocaust." The letter also claimed that Palestinians in Israel face "similar conditions" to what Jews faced in ghettos in Nazi Germany.
In February, the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine also held an event called "From Auschwitz to Gaza: The Politics of Genocide" that featured a presentation by the anti-Semitic Imam Mohammad al-Asi.
The fourth Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), an annual week-long series of events to increase awareness about Israel as an "apartheid regime," was held concurrently in multiple U.S. cities and around the world in February. This year's IAW was held under the banner of "60 Years of Nakba: End Israeli Apartheid." Among IAW's main sponsors in New York were a host of anti-Israel groups, including New Jersey Solidarity (NJS), Al-Awda, and Adalah-New York. The opening panel was titled "60 Years of Exile" and included Azmi Bishara and Musa Al-Hindi of the Palestinian Popular Conference Network.