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Mock Apartheid wall demonstration aims to educate Ohio State students on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

March 6, 2014

Melissa Prax

The Oval was the setting for a discussion on Palestinian rights Thursday.

The Committee for Justice in Palestine at Ohio State celebrated the 10th annual Israeli Apartheid week by setting up a mock Apartheid wall on the Oval.

The CJP at OSU has celebrated Apartheid week in the past, but this year the mock wall spanned nearly seven feet and included detailed paintings supporting the movement. About 50 people came and went while the wall was up, offering different opinions and asking questions.

Israeli Apartheid week aims to spread the word about “the nature of Israel as an apartheid system” and to promote Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns, according to its website.

An apartheid system racially segregates and politically and economically discriminates, like the former social system in South Africa, which separated those who were black or other another racial descent from white people.

There is a part-wall, part-fence, mostly located in the West Bank of Palestine, that the Israeli government made the decision to build in 2002. The government said the wall was necessary to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from entering the country, but because Palestinian land was confiscated to build it, many Palestinians have been separated from their land and jobs.

Belal Daoud, a fifth-year in information systems and the publicity director of CPJ at OSU, said the mock wall at OSU was meant to be an educational tool.

“The best way to raise awareness is to show what we have to, or what Palestinians have to, deal with on a day-to-day basis,” Daoud said, referring to the separation the real wall creates.

Last week, the CPJ put about 2,000 mock eviction notices on some off-campus housing doors to further simulate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The notices said real eviction notices are “routinely given to Palestinian families living under the illegal Israeli occupation for no reason other than their ethnic background.”

Daoud said he hoped the wall would spark debate and give students the chance to see the differences in viewpoints.

“I would like people to see the different sides,” Daoud said. “We want to have conversation, you know, we want to exchange ideas.”

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is largely over land and religions and has been fought over for generations. Israel, Gaza and the West Bank were once called Palestine, but after a war in 1948, Palestine was divided and Jewish Israelis claimed some land for religious reasons.

Some students, like Michael Berkovich, a third-year in computer science and engineering who said he supports the Israeli side of the conflict, said there are better ways to create peace.

“It’s about conversation, and many of the organizers of the mock wall are radical,” Berkovich said. “What’s going to solve the problem is by being friends with those on both sides, not by offending.”

Lorette Alamir, a first-year in biology, said she has a close connection with Palestine.

“I just want there to be peace there because I go there (the West Bank) every summer and my grandparents live there,” Alamir said. “(Being pro-Palestinian is) just against injustice whether you are Arab or not.”

Daoud said he wants events for Israeli Apartheid week to happen every year at OSU.

“I’m hoping it’s going to be a tradition,” Daoud said. “I’m hoping that we’ll have the wall every year, we’ll have the mock eviction notices every year. I want people to almost expect it to happen.”


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Comments (24)

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  1. Tim Adams says:

    This was a really fantastic event! CJP did a fantastic job putting this together, and I was glad to have been able to talk with so many people who stopped by. The fight for Palestinian justice is an issue that all of us should recognize as our own.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t it defeat the purpose to have people expect the mock eviction notices?

  3. Matthew says:

    Palestine should become a country as soon as Narnia and Middle-Earth do, a.k.a. never.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This article is not factually correct. Palestine was a region as defined by the British.
    Also of note, the US has a wall on its boarders between Mexico and Canada. Why is Israel trying to protect its citizens from suicide bombers so terrible?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hey look guys! All the Israeli Trolls are out to play on the message boards!! ^

  6. Christopher Wallace says:

    Loool protect from suicide bombers as if there’s just thousands of Palestinians strapped with bombs waiting on the border and the only thing that’s stopping them is a wall. The wall is built further into the West Bank and continues to take away palestinian land via settlement building which includes the raping of resources so settlers can fill their pools with clean water while the Palestinians barely have enough.

  7. Sipo says:

    It’s funny when pro Israeli depicts Israel as they are helpless and depicts Palestine as they are barbaric and violent. Stop spamming the message board with such lies.

    Israel is the oppressor. The whole world knows. Keep playing your little game, soon you will have nothing to play with. We don’t believe your lies anymore :)

  8. William Wallace says:

    They may build a Wall… They may build it very Tall.. but they will never, ever eveeeer, take our FREEEEEDOMMM.

  9. Demonic Denizen says:

    Oh the irony. Nobody is pointing out the Israel is by far the most democratic and free country to live in the entire Middle East.

    -Israel actually has a free press.

    -Israel has a parliament, and elections.

    -Israel has muslim members of parliament.

    -Arabs & Muslims have the right to vote. Blacks in South Africa had no such luxury in Apartheid state.

    -Israel is always one of the first countries to respond to natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1001693), Phillipines, and even the Boston Bomber. And without any of the Scientology crap Johnny Travolta brought with him to Haiti.

    Why has nobody mentioned that none of the Arab states want the people who reside in Gaza? When approached on the subject, they turn the other way.

    * All Israelis, irrespective of ethnicity or religion have constitutionally enshrined equality. For you to equate Israel, the sole democracy in the Middle East, with apartheid era South Africa is shameful and mocks the people of South Africa.

    -Arabs have equal rights, and work in all professions. Look them up; there are Arab military leaders in the Israeli Army, Arab Journalists, Arab professors, medical professionals…etc…all in Israel.

  10. Vidar Thorsteinsson says:

    Dear Anonymous (10:11 am), you seem unaware that the Separation Wall, or Apartheid Wall, is not a “border” wall. It is not built on the border between Israel and the Occupied Territories (the Green Line). In fact, it is built entirely on illegally occupied Palestinian land and separates Palestinian villages and towns from one another, often making it impossible for Palestinians to reach schools, workplaces, and basic services. I think Palestinians would not mind Israel building a wall or other structures on its own territory, and I’m sure the International Court of Justice would not have ruled the Wall illegal had that been the case.

  11. Logical Spock says:

    The problem with labeling this Apartheid is that it is completely different then what black folks in south africa faced. No rights for them.

    Its my understanding that arabs or muslims or whatever still have equal rights within Israel. What goes on in the Gaza strip is questionable but it does not equate to a racially motivated apartheid, but rather an over reaction to terrorism threats.

    I think that students would be much more fruitful if they focused their efforts on millions of people currently suffering genocide in African countries and in North Korea.

    “It’s only Logical.”
    -Spock

  12. Vidar Thorsteinsson says:

    Dear Logical Spock, I laud your concern for victims of genocide in Africa and North Korea. I wish you the very best in your future activist work on these issues.
    You seem unaware of the reality of the situation faced by Palestinians in the illegally Occupied Territories. In the West Bank, which is home to almost 2 million Palestinians, Palestinians and state-sponsored Israeli settlers live within miles of each other. However, the Israeli state discriminates against West Bank Palestinians in every imaginable way. As Israel has barred Palestinians living under occupation from statehood or citizenship, they have no way of asserting or exercising their human rights in any form. They live under military dictatorship, while Israeli citizens live illegally on their lands with military protection and financial subsidies from the Israeli state. The further, actual discrimination which takes place at the level of travel freedoms, access to water resources, treatment by the Israeli military, political harassment, access to schools and healthcare, and so forth, is too vast to detail here. I can recommend reports and fact sheets released by Israeli groups such as Rabbis for Human Rights, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and B’Tsalem. All are easily found on the Internet. Once you have educated yourself on Israel’s systematic discrimination and oppression against Palestinians in the West Bank on the basis of their ethnicity, I am confident you will no longer be mystified by Desmond Tutu’s description of it as Apartheid.

  13. Anonymoose says:

    Israel is the root of all evil

  14. Logical Spock says:

    Thank you for the info, I’ll take a look, Vidar.

    While there is no doubt in my mind that there are cases of this, I find it hard to believe Israel is “the root of all evil.” I think its been blown a little out of proportion, strained and concentrated by media coverage, emotions, and one-sided views. They need to improve, and they know it. I think this is a political issue more than a racial or ethnic issue.

    Israel as a country has done great things for humanity in terms of technology, and access to clean water, drip irrigation, medicine, and science. They have always been the first to respond to disasters like the earthquake in Haiti. Equally accessible on the internet as the aforementioned claims. But obviously, there are issues at home they must work on.

    The best journalism gives both sides to a story. Israel may be a fault here, but you’ve heard only one side.

    “It’s only Logical.”
    -Spock

  15. Shlomo ben Eretz says:

    1. I oppose the existence of France as a French state, but I’m not anti-French.
    2. I oppose the existence of Poland as a Polish state, but I’m not anti-Polish.
    3. I oppose the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, but I’m not anti-Semitic.

    Syllogism:
    I. If statements 1 and 2 are not realistically possible, likewise statement 3 is not realistically possible.
    II. Statements 1 and 2 are not realistically possible.
    III. Therefore, statement 3 is not realistically possible.

    Anti-Zionism IS ANTISEMITISM

  16. Anonymous says:

    Shlomo,

    You have literally just dug yourself into a hole.

    1. I oppose the existence of France as a French state, but I’m not anti-French. TRUE

    THERE ARE FRENCH CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, AND JEWS.

    2. I oppose the existence of Poland as a Polish state, but I’m not anti-Polish. TRUE

    THERE ARE POLISH CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, AND JEWS.

    3. I oppose the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, but I’m not anti-Semitic. TRUE

    BECAUSE ISRAEL IS A DEMOCRATIC STATE FOR CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, AND JEWS.

    As my friend Kelso from “That 70s Show” would say… BURN!

  17. Vidar Thorsteinsson says:

    Dear Shlomo ben Eretz.
    Demanding human rights for Palestinians, and asking that Israel comply with international law and UN resolutions, does not constitute anti-semitism or racism of any kind. Denying human rights to Palestinians and discriminating against them on the basis of their ethnicity, however, is racism.

  18. Amanda says:

    As an OSU Jewish student, I am so glad to have a student organization, like CJP, on our campus that can raise awareness about the reality of what is going in Palestine/Israel. After my recent trip to that region, I can sadly admit that the humanitarian values of Judaism have been hijacked/corrupted by Israel’s human-rights abuses and its apartheid policies against the Palestinians. I think its crucial for all Jews to stand with Palestine. As the Torah teaches, ‘Justice, justice, you shall pursue’ (Deuteronomy 16:20). To secure a lasting settlement to the conflict, I think all Jews should be obligated to pursue justice on behalf of both peoples. I pray everyday that our Hillel will become more open to promote justice for Palestinians and admit Israel’s atrocities. Great work CJP and keep doing your thing because if no one does, who will? :)

  19. Brian Yeh says:

    @Logical Spock:

    I think if you had asked anyone from CJP who was volunteering at the wall yesterday, none of them would have said that the form of apartheid that Israel practices and that which was practiced in South Africa are one and the same. It’s because they aren’t, and that’s not the argument that pro-Palestinian activists are making.

    “Apartheid” is a term that has its origins in international law–specifically, the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. You can find the exact legal definition and text of the resolution here: http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/apartheid-supp.html. In general, though, apartheid refers to any policy or practice that attempts to establish and/or maintain the superiority of one racial group or another. Although you’re right in noting that Arabs/Palestinians constitute an ethno-national group rather than a race, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination defines racial discrimination as: “…any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.” So whether one instance of alleged apartheid “fits the mold” of South African apartheid is not the baseline by which you should be comparing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    In any case, what you’ve said about Arab citizens of Israel is not entirely accurate. Although they do have voting rights (which were denied to black South Africans), Arab-Israelis still live as second-class citizens in Israel. They suffer from various forms of discrimination–for instance, a lack of job opportunities, restricted access to land, and far less social benefits than Jewish citizens of Israel. But this argument misses the point that there are still millions of Palestinians living under occupation (Israel calls them “resident non-citizens”) that are treated much like blacks in South Africa were: they have no voting rights and their freedom of movement is severely curtailed, among many other examples.

    The mock Apartheid Wall was constructed precisely to counter the sentiment you expressed in your last paragraph. It’s BECAUSE there has been a lack of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and BECAUSE more attention needs to be directed to it, that CJP constructed the wall. I’m not sure what you mean when you say that students “would be much more fruitful,” but it seems quite counter-intuitive to me to argue that turning away from and ignoring a problem is a better solution than addressing it head-on and seeking solutions for its resolution.

  20. Max says:

    I can’t wait for Saudi Arabian Apartheid Week.

  21. casey washer says:

    a)most palestinian refugees live in lands NOT controlled by israel, but im sure SYRIA is treating them better than the israelis-cough cough yeah right b)look it up, the palestianian israeli conflict is the THIRD deadliest conflict in middle east since 1900, thats not a defense as much as something tese guys hope you dont find out (the 1st was the kurdish iraqi conflict) and c) with arab (israelis) being able to vote, serve in the army, be a SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, serve in the knesset (israeli congress) and live next door to thier non arab neighbors (haifa great example) calling israel an apartheid state and comparing it to south africa is disingenuous, manipulative at best.

    p.s. i asked those kids at thier wall when i was walking by, how many had even been to the middle east, as you can probably guess most of them had not

  22. casey washer says:

    and max, you wont ever see a saudi arabian apartheid week bc a)oil and b) its not the capital of judaism

  23. Anarchist says:

    In response to Shlomo;

    Can a French person be an anarchist?

    Can a Polish person be an anarchist?

    Can a Jew be an anarchist?

    I oppose the existence of all states because all states are sources of tyranny and violence.

    I am not against people being French, Polish, or Jewish so long as they don’t need a state to do so.

    I find it ironic that you, as a jew, are using French and Polish statism to justify Jewish statism since both of those states have a long history of anti-semitism.

  24. Nicola says:

    interesting ..
    except it is all not true
    the Israelis means BOTH Arabs and Jews .. yes, Arabs represent 20% of Israel’s population and they have exactly the same rights as Jews, discrimination is punishable by law
    the wall is actually just a security fence in more than 80% of that border and anyway it runs approximately where the future border between the two states will be
    it was built as a response to constant terrorist attack in which more than 3000 ISraelis have lost their lives (civilians) and it has succeeded to stop this almost 100%
    most of the Israelis are brown skinned since more than 60% of Jews living in Israel come from Arab countries ..
    therefore the whole “white-black” separation story is completely false and represents nothing but propaganda whose goal is to spread misinformation
    all I have said can be verified online

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