In other instances, in college campuses across the world, anti-Israel activists hold Israel Apartheid Weeks. Instead of complaining about how awful it is, pro-Israel students should go on the offensive and start organizing gender apartheid weeks that focus specifically on the discrimination against women that occurs in the Muslim world. One can host a lecture speaking about how Palestinian women are persecuted across the Arab world, the oppression of Christian women in the Arab world, the plight of Saudi and Iranian women, etc. Every attack of theirs should be met by an attack. Merely responding to the ridiculousness of their assertions is not sufficient.
Learning from Anti-Israel Activists: Outreach to Other Groups
It has been noted that anti-Israel activists are increasingly reaching out to women’s rights advocates, the labor rights community, homosexuals, and American minority groups such as the African Americans and Native Americans. In the short term, they are doing this so they won’t be the only ones pro-Israel activists will have to go up against whenever anti-Israel activists take hostile actions. In the long term, they seek to transform the American left and huge segments of the American population into anti-Israel activists.
Sana Javed, the founder of the UMD Students for Justice Palestine that worked for the ACLU and presently is a senior communications specialist for the SEIU, stated at a Muslim Student Association event that was held not too long ago, “There is strength in numbers. I saw that first hand when we organized the first ever Palestinian Solidarity Week. Yes, there was tremendous support from the Muslim community, but we also had 12 other organizations co-sponsoring as well. That not only gave us an audience to reach out to. It built alliances. It helped us connect different communities.”
“But it also gave us a really strong foothold when there was so much backlash against our events, against our message—that this was not just a Muslim thing—-there were 12 other organizations also here speaking out about what is going on and how Palestinians are being treated,” Javed explained. “Alliances go both ways. In San Francisco, the Muslim community has really good relations with the LGBT community.” She stressed that due to this alliance, the LGBT community helped anti-Israel activists plaster over bus ads they disagreed with. She emphasized that due to such alliances, when anti-Israel activists are attacked, they can count on their new allies to back them up.
The University of Maryland at College Park is not the only example of the recent push by anti-Israel activists within the US to strengthen their ties with the American left. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation reported that a group of African American writers, activists, academics, and artists were given an anti-Israel tour of the Palestinian territories in 2013. Anti-Israel activists like Edward Said and Ali Abunimah compared the plight of the Palestinians to African Americans frequently, in an attempt to sway African American opinion. Anti-Israel activists also frequently compare themselves to the Native Americans. These outreaches culminated in the Native American Studies Association Boycott of Israel.
Furthermore, there is more than one homosexual and feminist group promoting anti-Israel activity as well. Organizations like Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism, Palestinian Queers for BDS, Israeli Queers for Palestine, Women against Violence, the Coalition of Women for Peace, among other groups, are all working to turn the feminist and gay rights community against the State of Israel, even though Israel is one of the few countries in the Middle East where gays aren’t persecuted and women have equal rights.
A Suggestion to Pro-Israel Activists
Therefore, I would like to suggest that pro-Israel activists should attack the legitimacy of their opponents and reach out to potential allies. In pro-Israel events, pro-Israel Muslim speakers, such as Mudar Zahran, Qanta Ahmed, Kasim Hafeez, or a pro-Israel Arab IDF soldier should be brought in. Pro-Israel Muslims can get away with saying things Jews can’t and are often more persuasive. Pro-Israel activists should bring in speakers to discuss gay rights and women’s rights in Israel compared to the Palestinian Authority. Special emphasis should be put on human rights abuses within the Palestinian Authority and the greater Arab world. We ourselves from our own initiative should call countries like Lebanon apartheid states for their treatment of the Palestinians.