Israeli Apartheid Week is not only an affront to unbiased and knowledgeable observers of the Middle East, not only an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatefest full of positions and statements that have no basis in reality, not only a terrible disservice to Palestinians because the false sense of victimhood it fosters precludes them from taking constructive measures to improve their lives and not only a violation of academic integrity by the universities that allow it to take place because it is very one-sided and unbalanced and contrary, more rational views are either ridiculed, discouraged or not permitted….no, awful and disgraceful as all of this is, it is much more than that. It is a frontal attack on two of our most fundamental, inalienable rights, freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
IAW organizers and participants are not interested in dialogue or the unfettered exchange of ideas. They know that they would come out a distant second if they were challenged and that no person with a sound and open mind would take them seriously. They would be revealed for exactly what they are: ideologues, fascists, religious fanatics, crazies, brainwashed, poorly informed, easily manipulated, unthinking, irrational, bigoted or any combination thereof. That is why anyone who raises his or her voice in protest at an IAW event is harassed and threatened and shouted down and that is why their pronouncements are trite and filled with cliches and hyperbole, or to put it more succintly, bull…. They have nothing else. They can’t compete so they have to demonize and villify and prevent others from speaking or otherwise expressing themselves.
Whatever one’s views are on the Middle East as people living in free, democratic, secular societies we have every right to express them in whatever way we see fit. The minute that someone prevents us from doing so and gets away with it is the minute we can no longer call ourselves free and the minute we come closer to having a totalitarian, theocratic state imposed on us. Israeli Apartheid Week brownshirts are attacking our freedom by trying, with some success I might add, to intimidate and shut up anyone who opposes them. We must not let them succeed. Rest assured, if freedom of speech and freedom of expression are lost, a free press, an independent judiciary, freedom of religion and all the other hallmarks of our way of life will be too.
Israeli Apartheid Week won’t bring down Israel or raise up Palestinians. The mentality behind it and the bilge it spits out diminish us all and pose a serious threat to our civil liberties however and it is incumbent on each and every one of us to counter its odious activities with energy and passion.