Film screenings, poetry readings, debates, workshops, roundtables, conferences and concert … that was the agenda of the Week against Israeli Apartheid held from March 1 to March 6 in several cities worldwide and for the first time in the Lebanese capital, at the American University of Beirut. For five days, these activities have sought to mobilize “the next generation of students around the spirit of resistance to apartheid and injustice, and to support the Palestinian movement for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS)” according to the official website of the campaign.
At the AUB campus on Friday March 5, few posters mention this event. Only two large panels are installed in front of West Hall, the building that hosts conferences and workshops of the Week against the Israeli Apartheid (see the official video of the event). It”s noon. The room located at the third floor room is already packed. About fifty people, mostly students, listen to the presentation and Rania Masri and Rami Zurayk on the campaign of boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS). “Coca Cola supports Israel. The group invests in Israeli companies, it sponsors sports teams of the country, and has built a factory in occupied territories,” said Rania Masri, assistant professor of environmental sciences at the University of Balamand, “it”s difficult, but there are clear results. Santana (the all-time rock guitarist) has canceled his concert scheduled in Jaffa in June, after receiving emails and letters from activists for human rights. And the French company Veolia has withdrawn from the railway project which was intended to connect Jerusalem to West Bank settlements”. “We must delegitimize Zionism and Israel. Relations with Israel, whatever their nature was, should no longer be considered as normal!”, insists the young woman, who continues, “Besides, the legitimacy of Israel begins to erode on the international arena.” Warm applause welcomed the presentation and questions for stakeholders were apparently numerous. For Rami Zurayk, professor of environment at the AUB, the Palestinian cause must be reconciled with other struggles for global justice. Rania Masri gives an example, “In boycotting Microsoft, we participate in the struggle for the promotion of free software.”
Launched in 2005 in Toronto, the Week against Israeli Apartheid is held annually in March in over 40 cities and campuses around the world, from Amsterdam to Bogota from New York to London, via Melbourne and Johannesburg. Objective of this mobilization: play a role in raising awareness and disseminating information “on Zionism, the Palestinian liberation struggle and its similarities with the indigenous sovereignty struggle in North America and with apartheid in South Africa”. For activists it”s all about “contributing to international opposition movement against the Israeli policies and supporting BDS campaign”s main claims”. This campaign calls for “putting an end to Israeli occupation, including in the Golan, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and in the Gaza Strip, the recognition of the rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to equality, boycotting institutions and corporations related to Israel, the a! dvocacy of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, in accordance with United Nations Resolution 194.”