Israeli Apartheid week kicks off
Regina one of over 110 cities worldwide holding awareness event
Israeli Apartheid week returned to the University of Regina for another year.
The international initiative has been around for eight years, raising awareness about the systematic apartheid in Israel and growing the international movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns. This is the second year that the U of R by the Regina Public Interest Research Group has been involved.
Yafa Jarrar kicked off the week at the U of R with a talk about student organizing and movement building held in the RIC atrium. Born in Jerusalem and moving to Canada in 2003 to complete her studies, she is a member of the Carleton chapter of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), which has been at the forefront of the academic divestment movement in Canada.
She has firsthand experience of the Israeli Apartheid.
“There are segregation laws in Israel, there are ID pass permits that don‘t admit Palestinians – based on the fact that they are Palestine – to go to many areas within Palestine, including myself,” Jarrar said. “I was born in Jerusalem and I am not allowed to go to Jerusalem because I am a carrier of the West Bank identity card.”
In her speech, she talked about the shift toward calling the occupation an apartheid.
“Right now, according to the UN, we have 58 refugee camps around the world for Palestinian people, and of course there are some refugee camps that are not recognized,” Jarra said. “We have from five million to six million Palestinian refugees around the world. For every three refugees in the world, one is Palestinian.”
An important aspect, Jarrar said, is actually labelling the Palestine-Israeli conflict.
“This is the core of our issue and that is why we move the discourse to apartheid,” she said. “The other element of why we talk about it in terms of an apartheid analysis [is] because there is 20 per cent of the Israeli population who are now in Palestine and there are Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel that were not expelled in 1948 and they remain in their homes.
“While they are Palestine-Israeli citizens, they do not enjoy the same rights as a Jewish-Israelis living in Israel.”
She went on to say that talk about occupation is only referring to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but she insisted the situation is more.
“We have refugees and Palestinians who live in Israel as second- and third-class citizens,” Jarrar said. “So when we talk about apartheid, it is a very inclusive term that allows us to move towards a more just solution.”
Jarrar also spoke on how the Palestinian people want more that just peace for the solution to this conflict.
“We want a solution that complies with international law and human rights,” Jarrar said. “This is why boycott, divestment and sanctions came from the Palestinian Civil Society in 2005, when the Palestinians issued an open call to the world saying, ‘If you stand against racism and if you stand against racial discrimination of one indigenous people and if you want to stand with the Palestine people in solidarity, then you take boycott, divestment and sanctions.’
“It is the most non-violent tool of resistance to force Israel to comply with international law and human rights.”
For more information on the week that is set to end March 15, visit reginasolidaritygroup.com.