‘Make Israel Apartheid Week’ illegal call

THE government has been urged to condemn Israel Apartheid Week, which returns to campuses across the UK next week.

North West Friends of Israel and the Israel British Alliance want it made a breach of the law.

The anti-Zionist event — which this year will last for 58 days! — has in previous years seen protests against Israel and Jewish students.

There have also been many events allegedly promoting Holocaust denial.

The event is sponsored, in part, by charity War On Want.

A spokesman for NWFoI said: “Israel Apartheid Week is part of a well-established campaign designed to delegitimise and demonise Israel.

“The language is provocatively chosen to draw a comparison between apartheid South Africa and Israel.

“Those comparisons are mendacious and in direct contradiction to the actuality of life in Israel — a free society where equality is guaranteed for all.”

Citing the government’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, the group said that making this comparison “is antisemitic”.

The spokesman continued: “We call on the prime minister to condemn these events and highlight the possibility of making them a breach of the law.”

Events taking place at Manchester University include a talk by Sahar Francis and Mohammed Othman — “two activists who have flown in from Palestine” — and a lecture by “Jewish anti-Zionist” Robert Cohen called It’s Kosher to Boycott Israel.

There is also a talk by Israel-hater Ben White titled Written out of History: How Cultural Appropriation Helps Sustain Military Occupation.

In Leeds, there is an event called SkateQilya: Resistance Through Skating about an American professional skater who led a skate camp in the West Bank, and an event to “mark 70 years of ongoing settler-colonialism” called #70yearNakba.

Fewer than 10 universities across the UK are taking part in IAW — the lowest since its inception in 2005.

For the first time, Liverpool University will not be holding any events.

The campaign manager for the Union of Jewish Students, Liron Velleman, said: “Clearly, Israel Apartheid Week is weakening.

“It’s losing the momentum it gained a few years ago. It’s being dragged by tired, worn-out campaigners who can’t admit defeat.

“The decline of Israel Apartheid Week mirrors a drop in the presence of the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement on our campuses.

“There is a historical association between BDS and anti-apartheid campaigning. Boycotts were used effectively to end apartheid in South Africa over two decades ago.

“But the comparison doesn’t stack up, neither does the tactic.”

The Jewish Telegraph spoke to Manchester University to find out why these events are allowed to take place and what — if any — vetting process is followed for the speakers.

A spokesman, citing the University’s Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech, said: “We recognise that freedom of speech and expression within the law has fundamental importance for universities as places of education, learning and the disinterested pursuit of truth.

“In particular, universities are obliged — under Section 43 of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 — to take measures to protect freedom of lawful speech and expression.

“This principle is also enshrined in Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998.”

All event organisers are required to submit an application if it is likely to be “considered as controversial” in some way.

“The expression of controversial views which do not breach the law will not constitute reasonable grounds for withholding permission for an event.”

Meanwhile, City University of London Students’ Union has passed a boycott motion against Israel — the second in 15 months.

The motion will see the university “divest itself and terminate any contracts with companies that are complicit with illegal settlements”.

A UJS spokesman said: “We are disgusted by — and strongly condemn — the use of intimidatory tactics by individuals who supported the BDS motion, and we are supporting students who are submitting complaints.

“These appalling actions explicitly caused both Jewish and non-Jewish students to feel unsafe and caused some to abstain on the motion for fear of harassment.”

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