Friday, April 08, 2011

Israel haters at Columbia call my posters "racist"

An article in the Columbia Spectator references Columbia Hillel's response to "Israel Apartheid Week" - and the anti-Israel authors take aim to two of my posters that Hillel apparently displayed:

Last month, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (C-SJP) sponsored Israeli Apartheid Week. In response, Hillel groups organized a campaign titled “Separating Fact From Apartheid.” To achieve this end, Hillel employed racist tactics to put a convivial face to Israel’s military and colonial occupation of Palestinian land....

To illustrate Israel’s “diversity,” Hillel set up a display of large poster boards of Israel’s token successful minorities.
The authors are deliberately misrepresenting Hillel's point. It isn't that Israel is diverse - which it is - but that Israel is not an apartheid state, as the authors contend. There is a big difference between the existence of discrimination, which happens everywhere, and the disgusting charge of apartheid, as the haters who wrote this piece are espousing.
The first board featured Rana Raslan, who in 1999 became the first Arab to win a Miss Israel contest. Three years later, Raslan was quoted as saying, “Till today, I am treated like trash at the airport. I haven’t visited Israel for three months because of what I had gone through during security checks. I was asked questions in a vulgar manner, held for hours. They also searched me; I have no problem being treated like any other civilian, but there is a way to do so, with delicacy.”
The point, of course, is that these racist Israelis had no problem choosing one of those supposedly despised Arabs to represent their country to the world. Obviously if she is being treated badly at airports there is a problem, but it is not apartheid!

Another poster featured Salim Joubran, a lawyer born in Haifa, who was elected in 2004 to become the first Arab to hold a permanent appointment as a Supreme Court Justice. A piece published in Spectator by LionPAC’s director of public relations, Jonathan Huberman, claimed that having a Palestinian-Israeli on Israel’s Supreme Court is evidence that Israel is “a democratic, multi-ethnic country that upholds equal rights for all of its citizens.” Huberman believes that the appointment of the first and only permanent Palestinian Israeli judge to Israel’s Supreme Court in its 56 years of existence is evidence of its “equal rights” and “democratic” nature. According to Sikkuy’s data, at the end of 2008 only 42 of 589 judges in Israel were Arabs—seven percent of the judiciary. A 2008 report about fair representation of the Arab population in the civil service, which was published by the Civil Service Commission in June of this year, indicates that of 3,763 employees in the courts administration, only 119 are Arabs—3.16 percent of all employees. Palestinian citizens of Israel constitute nearly 20 percent of the overall population.
So the authors are trying to argue that somehow Israel is an apartheid state because Arabs are not yet represented proportionately as judges. By that standard, the Palestinian Authority (and every government on the planet) are demonstrably sexist because women do not take up 50% of their governmental positions. I think short people are also underrepresented in democracies. And South Africa is still an apartheid state because the number of black graduates of university are far less than their proportional numbers.

If Israel is an apartheid state, name one state that isn't. If you cannot do that, then your label of "apartheid" is merely a smear meant to slander an entire nation. It also brings up the obvious question of why Israel is being singled out when its record on inclusiveness is demonstrably better than even many European countries. There isn't a ban on minarets in Israel!

It is always fun to see graduate students engage in such puerile arguments. But that is what happens when hate trumps intelligence.

I added a comment to the piece:
Thanks for a great laugh. I didn't know until now that pointing out that Israel has Arabs in respected positions in the army, judiciary, entertainment and politics is "racist." Columbia must be proud that two of its students are so adept at newspeak. 
Thank you also for mentioning two of the "Apartheid?" posters that I created. For those who want to see more of my supposedly racist posters, they are here.) 

(h/t Jim)