Tags: israel | apartheid | debate

Israel Apartheid Comparison Leads to Sharp Debate Online

Image: Israel Apartheid Comparison Leads to Sharp Debate Online
The Israeli flag flies over the Old City on December 01, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 15 Dec 2014 10:58 AM

When the debate over Israel and its policies toward Palestinian refugees heated up in the first half of 2014, people on both sides of the controversy aired their feelings on the Israel apartheid analogy online.

Prominent politicians — including Secretary of State John Kerry — compared Israel’s policies to the sweeping segregation that took place in South Africa between white and black citizens. Nelson Mandela was credited with putting an end to the apartheid movement in South Africa in the late 1980s.

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Social media, of course, is a popular form of expression from people of all walks of life in modern society. In late February 2014, a group of students at Brandeis University, a college in Waltham, Massachusetts, used Facebook to tout an event called Brandeis Israel Apartheid Week.

The group of students — part of a sanctioned club known as Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine (BSJP) — wanted to use the campus event and social media as an outlet for sharing how they felt about treatment toward Palestinian refugees.

According to a report in the Brandeis Hoot, the campus’ official newspaper, pro-Israeli students clearly made their feelings known when BSJP announced its event on Facebook.

“The term ‘apartheid’ is not only loaded, but also entirely false when it comes to life in Israel and Israeli policy,” Brandeis student Daniel Koas told the Hoot. “In fact, making such a claim about Israel belittles the actual apartheid that took place in South Africa.”

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The debate over whether Israel is truly an apartheid state extends far beyond college campuses. High-ranking officials, including British Parliament member David Ward, took to Twitter and shared outrage over Israeli policies along the Gaza Strip.

“The big question is — if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? — probably yes,” Ward said in a July 22, 2014 Twitter post. When other online posters criticized Ward for his comments on the Israel apartheid controversy, he eventually apologized.

In a 140-character world, it can all too often be easy for a person’s remarks to not be taken in the full context they were intended. In an interview with BBC Radio, following his tweet, Ward expounded on his beliefs.

“What I was saying was, if I was there, if I had been living for year after year after year, hemmed in by air, land and sea by a mighty military force that was brutally killing my people, and the world was not responding, I think I would have to do something,” Ward said in the BBC interview.

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When the debate over Israel and its policies toward Palestinian refugees heated up in the first half of 2014, people on both sides of the controversy aired their feelings on the Israel apartheid analogy online.
israel, apartheid, debate
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2014-58-15
Monday, 15 Dec 2014 10:58 AM
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