As anti-Israel organizations from around the world prepare for the annual Israeli Apartheid Week in February, the Jerusalem Institute for Justice is fighting back. The Jerusalem-based institute is organizing the first annual “Palestinian Human Rights Week” in an attempt to draw international attention to the horrendous human rights record of the Palestinian Authority.
Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), an annual series of university lectures and hate-speech rallies, have been spreading harmful propaganda against the Jewish state since it began in Toronto, Canada in 2005. According to the organizers “the aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement.” This year events are planned for 80 different cities around the world.
Calev Myers, a Messianic Jewish lawyer and founder of the Jerusalem Institute for Justice (JIJ), believes it is high time Israel fights back. “We are attacked with outrageous accusations in international journalism and academia, and our response to these assaults is too often unconvincing explanations,” he explains. “We are taking the battle right back to the Palestinians. Israel needs to stop trying to defend itself and start taking the initiate,” says Myers.
A Palestinian Human Rights Week may sound like an oxymoron, but for Myers and the team at JIJ it is just the right strategy against the growing onslaught of anti-Israel propaganda. According to Myers the image of the State of Israel is deteriorating in the eyes of the world, and anti-Semitism is on the rise.
“Students are demonstrating on campuses against us, people are marching in the streets of major cities in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians,” he says. The idea of an annual Palestinian Human Rights Week is to redirect international attention away from the exaggerated accusations of a so-called Israeli apartheid state and focus on the far more extreme human rights violations in the Palestinian-controlled territories.
“The Palestinian Authority needs to be held accountable by the international community for more than 25 billion dollars that has been given to the Palestinian people since the Oslo Accords,” writes Myers on a recent blog. “They should explain why the vast majority of Palestinian people still live in abject poverty. This aid money designated to build the socio-economic infrastructure necessary for an independent state has been squandered irresponsibly. Widespread corruption has ensured that the massive fiscal investment into the Palestinian economy and sustainable infrastructure has been embezzled into private bank accounts, financed terror networks, the purchasing weapons and has sponsored an educational system that teaches intolerance, hatred, violence and anti-Semitism,” he says.
According to research done by the JIJ, the Palestinians have received an estimated 25 times more aid, per capita, than European citizens under the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction and economic recovery of Europe following WWII! This and other examples of corruption and human rights violations were presented to the European Parliament this past November in a paper entitled “Hidden Agenda: A review of PA and Hamas Human Rights Violations in the West Bank and Gaza.”
Myers hopes to use the Palestinian Human Rights Week to raise international awareness of the many human rights violations across the Middle East.
“The Arab leadership in the Middle East should have to explain why after 65 years they are unwilling to grant citizenship to Palestinian refugees, their children or grandchildren, despite a common ethnic and religious heritage,” writes Myers. “Let them explain to the world why a Palestinian apartheid exists in Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Why Palestinians in those nations cannot vote, hold public office, own property, learn in public schools, and in some places many need to receive special permission from the government to leave their respective refugee camps. The Palestinian leadership who is demanding statehood, should explain to the world why they violate Palestinian human rights on a daily basis. Let them explain arbitrary arrests, torture, and executions without trial, the routine discrimination of minorities, silencing of journalists and the non-prosecution of honor killings to name a few.”
Myers believes that he has every right to focus on Palestinian and Arab human rights violations. “I am not a foreign politician or journalist,” he says. “I an Israeli citizen. Our team at the Jerusalem Institute for Justice have been actively engaged in fighting against human rights violations right here in Israel amongst our own people. Why should we not also publically expose the vast corruption, torture and denial of basic human rights that harm the Palestinian people themselves, and are conveniently used as an excuse to blame Israel,” says Myers.
Myers and the team at the Jerusalem Institute for Justice are organizing Palestinian Human Rights Week in major cities in a face-to-face rebuttal to the Israel Apartheid Week. “The first event will be in Toronto in February,” says Myers. “We wanted to make a statement by starting our event at the same place these anti-Israel campaigns began. There will also be events at Oxford University in England (another stronghold for the Israel Apartheid libel) as well as right here in Israel at Ben Gurion University,” he says.
Events will be taking place around the second week of February. Keep posted for locations and schedules for these upcoming events.