Letter: Israel Apartheid Week is Islamophobic, not anti-semitic
Re: “Israel Apartheid Week: divisive and deceptive” by Alon Coret [Published March 14, 2013 in Opinions]
By Will Innes, Humanities III
Mr. Coret might have a point, and I can’t help but agree with him that IAW does focus too much on one country. However, I disagree with his assertion that IAW is a cypher for anti-semitism in Canada. If anything, putting the spotlight on Israel to the expense of human rights violations in neighbouring countries speaks to a deep underlying Islamophobia in contemporary discourse.
Israel is criticized because Israel is held by Western public opinion to the standards of civilized nations. Predominantly Muslim “Arab” nations are less criticized because they are not held by Western public opinion to the same standards as Israel. IAW is symptomatic of a system of attitudes that is quite content to include Israel - much as it included apartheid era South Africa - in the community of civilization.
Only in the context of being within a community of communities can criticism ever reasonably be offered of policy to any standard above that of the particular sub-community. South Africa was called to account by the rest of the West precisely because it was identified as a nation from whom better was to be expected by the 1980s than practices officially abandoned in, for instance, America by the 1960s. Western critics of Israel call attention to the pernicious antics of the settlement lobby because they fundamentally consider Israel to be among a group that includes them.
To contrast, “Arab” nations “escape” this criticism not because of any favouritism, but because of an underlying cultural and arguably racial bias that excludes them from the emotional space occupied by the Western community. In such a symbology of contemporary discourse, Israel is the neighbour whose critics wish would better mend her fence - a civilized person - while the Saudi, for instance, is simply a particularly wealthy savage from whom no better can be expected.
IAW does not exemplify anti-semitic tendencies. The lack of an equally high profile popular critical movement in the West targeting the abuses and depredations perpetrated by the regimes neighbouring Israel against equally valuable individual human beings provides a classic example of Islamophobia that screams its eloquence against the supposition of Western moral universalism.