Israeli Apartheid Week launches in Soweto

Israeli Apartheid Week 2008 was officially launched on Sunday, 3 February in Soweto, South Africa. Exiled Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, Azmi Bishara, addressed his lecture on the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their land to become what remains one of the world’s largest refugee populations. Bishara spoke under the banner “Silenced in Apartheid Israel — Welcomed in Soweto” alongside prominent South Africans such as Eddie Maque, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches.

Speaking in South Africa, Bishara stated: “Reconciliation happened in South Africa after apartheid was dismantled, not instead. The message sent to the Palestinians is that you have to make peace and reconcile. We can reconcile after racism and occupation is dismantled.” Dr. Bishara’s lecture will be screened during the week in participating cities around the world.

The fourth annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is taking place in 25 cities from 3-19 February 2008. Concurrent events are being held in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa, and Palestine. IAW will feature lectures, film screenings, cultural activities, and demonstrations aimed at raising awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies toward Palestinians and to gather support for the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign. The demands of this campaign are: full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands, and the protection of Palestinian refugees’ right to return pursuant to UN resolution 194.

“It has become imperative for people around the world to isolate the Israeli apartheid regime, especially in the face of governments’ failure to ensure respect for human rights and to hold Israel accountable before international law and countless UN resolutions” said Ahmad Shokr, an organizer of IAW in New York City. Shokr adds that “by supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign the international community can bring an end to Israeli apartheid and work toward a future of justice, equality and peace.”

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