Eight years ago, “Israel Apartheid Week” began on campuses in America and around the world to show “solidarity with the Palestinian struggle” and to demonize Israel as an “Apartheid” regime.
Ten years ago, I began studying this “pro-Palestinian/anti-Israeli” phenomenon.
It began, like so many movements, on a university campus. The year was 2002, and then-former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was scheduled to speak to a group of Jewish students.
But he was not allowed to speak. Why? Because a mob of young, multicultural North American university students – who waved Palestinian flags, spat on Jews, smashed glass, and hurled anti-Semitic slurs – stopped him from speaking.
Why would Western university students clash with police and riot in the streets to stop a free man from engaging in free speech – on what should have been a bastion of free speech: a university campus? And why would those students – and students across America and around the world – demonize Israel and declare their solidarity with Palestinians in their annual “Israel Apartheid Week?”
My journey to answer that question brought me all the way to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem home, where I had the honor of working shoulder-to-shoulder with him as a writer on his victorious 2009 campaign to become Israel’s current Prime Minister.
Why would non-Palestinian university students declare their solidarity with Palestinians, when almost everything that defines campus life in America – free love, free speech, women’s rights, gay rights – would get them killed by the very Palestinians they champion?
For that matter, what is it about the Palestinian cause that has the power to unite vastly different non-Palestinians around the world, including President Jimmy Carter, the Green Party, the late Saddam Hussein, scores of American columnists and news editors, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the worldwide labor movement, gay and lesbian activists, women’s groups, Noam Chomsky, Amnesty International, the late Osama bin Laden, solidarity groups from America, England, Germany, Canada, Spain, India, Norway, Scotland, Ireland, France, Sweden, Australia and Italy, campus groups from the vast majority of colleges and universities in America, plus the United Nations—to make “Palestinians the largest per capita recipients of international development assistance in the world,” and to make Israel the most protested nation in the world after America?
What is it about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that causes millions of people around the world to choose sides the way they do?