Friday, April 8, 2011

African American Student Leadership Group Condemns Appropriation of "Apartheid" Terminology

The Vanguard Leadership Group, which describes itself as "a leadership development academy and honor society for top students at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities," has challenged the use of the "apartheid" label in discourse surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict. It calls the analogy false and offensive and therefore destructive of true dialogue and efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation. JTA reports:
Black students group slams ‘apartheid’ abuse

April 8, 2011

(JTA) -- An African American students group took out ads in college newspapers blasting "Israel Apartheid week" organizers for abusing the term.

In a full page entitled "words matter" and appearing in the newspapers on April 7, Vanguard Leadership Group accuses Students for Justice in Palestine of a "false and deeply offensive" characterization of Israel.

"SJP has chosen to manipulate rather than inform with this illegitimate analogy," Vanguard says in the ad, signed by its members attending a number of historically black colleges. "We request that you immediately stop referring to Israel as an apartheid society and to acknowledge that the Arab minority in Israel enjoys full citizenship with voting rights and representation in the government."
The Jerusalem Post in the meantime adds more detail:
The letter continues to state that “[p]laying the ‘apartheid card’ is a calculated attempt to conjure up images associated with the racist South African regimes of the 20th century,” and calls the strategy “as transparent as it is base.”

“Beyond that, it is highly objectionable to those who know the truth about the Israelis’ record on human rights and how it so clearly contrasts with South Africa’s,” the letter reads, noting that under apartheid, black South Africans had no rights in a country in which they were the majority of the population. . . .

“Decency, justice, and the hope of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East compel us to demand an immediate cessation to the deliberate misappropriation of words and of the flagrant mischaracterizations of Israel,” the letter concludes. “Your compliance with this request will be viewed as a responsible and appropriate first step toward raising the level of discourse.”
Yeah, but what would they know, right?

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Here is an image of the actual advertisement.

[Updates 9 April, 13 April]


Joe Thompson said...

Bless them for asking that people use language accurately. It sounds like such an old-fashioned concept.

Jim Wald said...

Yes, it would seem an unexceptionable request. I just finished teaching about the misuse of historical analogies last week.

In the now-classic Historians' Fallacies (1970), David Hackett Fischer wrote:

"The psychological power of analogical explanation is dangerous both to logic and to empiricism. Many bad ideas have had a long life because of a good (effective) analogy. If analogy is used to persuade without proof, or to indoctrinate without understanding, or to settle an empirical question without empirical evidence, then it is misused. Sometimes the results are not merely disagreeable, but downright dangerous." (p. 259)

oldschooltwentysix said...

They will likely face the wrath of those who will not hear, but hopefully this will shine some light on those who can.