Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Israeli Apartheid Week: The Times They Are (Keep) a-Changin'

As I noted last year, making sense of so-called "Israeli Apartheid Week" (IAW) can be difficult, and not only because of the content.  Figuring out when it will take place is one of the eternal mysteries of the calendar:  harder than in the case of Ramadan, which moves throughout the western year, yet easier than in the case of Passover, which, we at least know, always takes place sometime in the spring.

I know how the dates of Ramadan, Easter, and Passover are calculated. I have no idea how the dates for "Israeli Apartheid Week" are determined. (I imagine a gaggle of ageing activists—sort of keffiyeh-clad counterparts of the Elders of Zion—huddled around a computer planning grand strategy.) Anyway...

Since its inception in Toronto in 2005, it has not only moved across the calendar—it began first in late January, then in February, and now in March (will April be next?). Its duration has also changed.  For the first four years, it lasted less than a full week (anywhere from 4 to 6 days), and then, in 2009, increased to 8. Last year, it swelled to a fulsome 14. This year, it again stretches for some two weeks—from March 7 to 20— though it will be held in the UK from March 21 to 26: we are told, "Due to the popularity of Israeli Apartheid Week we have extended the 'week' to allow campuses, organizations and regions on different schedules to participate." I guess it's kind of like Daylight Saving Time for "activists": so that no one has to miss anything.

Here at Hampshire College, we 'proudly' (hey, mom! we get our own link!) held our festivities from March 7 through March 11.

As the preceding chart shows, "Israeli Apartheid Week" has grown, but so has the Israeli economy.  Apparently, all those boycott, divestment, and sanction efforts have not produced much in the way of results.

[Sources for economic data: 1, 2, 3]

Of course, statistics are malleable things, so anti-Israel activists could perhaps console themselves by drawing the graph somewhat differently, to show the change in real GDP (in constant prices).

It sure as hell looks as if Israel's economy took a nosedive just as "Israeli Apartheid Week" (IAW) increased from 6 to 8 days in length. Of course, economists might attribute that to war and the world economic crisis. And of course, BDS activists would then also need to explain how, even as IAW swelled from 8 to 14 days, the Israel economy in 2010 rebounded to its 2008 levels.

The point, of course, is that none of the BDS activity has the slightest effect on Israel's economy, but then, that's the one thing on which both proponents and opponents agree.

The whole point of the movement is not about divestment, but delegitimization: That's BDS. Anyone tells you anything different: That's BS.

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