The 9th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) kicked off on February 25th of this year. Starting in Europe, then in Palestine, and opening this weekend in North America before moving on to South Africa. These are only some of the confirmed dates; February and March will play host to a number of informative events in countries all over the world.
Now almost a decade running, IAW has become more than an annual event. It is a global institution. Last year, events were held in 215 cities worldwide. IAWs include lectures, film screenings, workshops and more, all organized to educate and enlighten audiences on Israeli apartheid -- its historical context and present day consequences.
IAW opens in Toronto on Friday with a night of spoken word and music, led by legendary poet Suheir Hammad and Remi Kanazi. Co-presented by FUSE Magazine, the night will also include performances by artist Basil AlZeri and Eagle Woman Singerz.
The week includes a screening of the popular educational film Roadmap to Apartheid with discussion and Q & A by Dr. Randa Farah, an anthropology professor from the University of Western Ontario. The diverse set of lecturers include Israeli anti-Israeli-apartheid activist Noa Shaindlinger; Razan Ghazzawi, a blogger from Syria; Canadian activist Crystal Lameman and Palestinian American activist Riham Barghouti; International History lecturer Dr. Abdel Razzaq Takriti and the senior most Ambassador of the Palestinian Diplomatic Corps., Afif Safieh.
Special events include Basil AlZeri's The Mobile Kitchen Lab, where AlZeri will "activate a utilitarian sculptural work with a cooking performance," with Skyped-in assistance from his mother, Suad. There's also a night of storytelling called I Come From There: Stories of the Living Resistance, "featuring a cross-section of Palestinian elders, youth, artists, and activists from the community."
The myriad of perspectives represented in the 2013 IAW program ensures an extensive and inclusive look at the narratives, records and ramifications of Israeli apartheid.
As an educational initiative, IAW is a necessary institution, especially in light of the recent counter-BDS movement that has been cropping up in Toronto.
BDS is the international campaign to boycott, divest from and enforce sanctions on the state of Israel. Initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005, BDS is a "strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice."
According to organisers: "The aim of IAW is to contribute to this chorus of international opposition to Israeli apartheid and to bolster support for the BDS campaign in accordance with the demands outlined in the July 2005 Statement: full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands -- including the Golan Heights, the Occupied West Bank with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip -- and dismantling the Wall, and the protection of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in U.N. resolution 194."
This year, as with every year, Israeli Apartheid organizers are taking into account current events and the political climate to design a comprehensive program that will be both informative and illuminating for those new to the struggle and empowering for those already fighting.
Haseena Manek is a freelance journalist based in Toronto.