Israeli Apartheid Week 2023 in the Netherlands – An overview
During Israeli Apartheid Week 2023 in the Netherlands a variety of activities were held in different cities. Here’s an overview:
Utrecht in Solidarity with Palestine (USP)
We had a very good time cooking a successful solidarity dinner for our campus, we raised some funds for the upcoming PSW in Utrecht by selling homemade dahl and flatbread, and managed to increase our visibility on our campus!
Additionally, we organised a screening of Jenin Jenin in ACU. It was an impactful evening which drew a crowd from the broader Utrecht region. The event provided both the opportunity for some to start learning about Palestine, and for others to engage more meaningfully with their pre-existing knowledge.
Student for Palestine (SfP)
On Saturday18th March, Students for Palestine (SfP) joined other anti-racist, anti-colonial, and Palestine solidarity groups in Amsterdam to March against racism. The spirit of unity and empowerment was felt by everyone as we chanted against Fascism and for Palestine to the beats of Caribbean drums. Once we reached our destination, three speeches on Palestine joined speeches on Afghan women’s rights, Iranian freedom, Refugee and LGBTQ rights, Black power and liberation movements across the world. Towards the end, we all sang along to Lowkey’s ‘Long Live Palestine’ live performance.
On Tuesday 21st March, SfP hosted a film screening which will hopefully be part of a regular film series called “What they don’t want you to see”. A full house for the screening of ‘Bethlehem 2001’ and ‘Just a Spoon’ had many people sitting on the floor. After an online Q&A with the directors of ‘Just A Spoon’ and the screening of the second movie, all students were glued to Ismail Ziadah’s storytelling of the first and second Intifada.
One year after Leiden University cancelled our panel on ‘Apartheid, Racism and Intersectionality’ because the moderator wasn’t “neutral”, we were finally able to have a panel discussion on campus with the same Palestinian moderator who they discriminated against. This time, the panel discussion was titled ‘Palestine: On Settler-Colonialism and Apartheid’. Speakers from Badil, Al-Haq, Amnesty, and the UN special rapporteur, Francesca Albanese, discussed the apartheid framework. Over a hundred students were present in the lecture hall and many more attended online.
Keep fighting your university’s complicity, there’s no ‘both sides’ argument in settler-colonialism and no ‘neutrality’ when discussing oppression. The university imposed excessive security measures on us and our event, but there was no ‘security issue’ apart from the weapon of truth.
Students for Palestine
Groningen for Palestine (GFP)
From 14-21 March 2023, a series of events took place in the context of Israeli Apartheid Week in two of the University of Groningen’s historic buildings. Whereas IAW activities had been organized in the University of Groningen on four previous occasions by just two individuals, this year’s program was the result of efforts by the recently formed organization Groningen for Palestine (GfP), which emerged as a result of last year’s IAW events. In addition to GfP, the panel events of 14 and 16 March were co-organized in collaboration with the Groningen-Jabalya Foundation.
Under the title Israeli Apartheid, Settler Colonialism & the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Ahmed Abofoul (international lawyer, legal research/advocacy officer at Al-Haq, visiting research fellow at the ISS) opened our IAW program on 14 March by addressing the legal context of the Crime of Apartheid and Israeli violations of Palestinian rights under international law. He also commented on the potential consequences of the cases against Israel presently being considered by the ICJ and ICC. Ahmed was complimented by Dr. Dina Zbeidy (anthropologist, lecturer and researcher at Leiden University of Applied Sciences) who highlighted the impact of the zionist project, settler-colonialism and Israeli apartheid in day-to-day Palestinian life, depending on the region into which Palestinians were divided and the various regimes of control allotted to each. Also emphasized was the centrality of understanding the daily ‘facts on the ground’ within the context of the ongoing ethnic cleansing and further zionist colonization of historic Palestine. The event was moderated by prof. Marcel Brus, professor of international public law at the RUG.
Highlighting the importance of an intersectional approach to combating global injustices and its relevance to the Palestinian cause, on 16 March three panelists addressed an event titled Freedom, Justice & Equality For All: A Common Cause. Omar Barghouti (co-founder of the BDS movement for Palestinian rights) pointed out the interconnectivity between the struggle for Palestinian rights and other struggles against oppression and discrimination, including anti-racist, decolonial and the struggles of Indigenous peoples, women’s rights, gender equality, climate/environmental justice, among other causes.
He further laid out the fundament and guidelines of the BDS movement, notable BDS successes, the criteria for choosing an appropriate target and the BDS aim to dismantle the zionist apartheid regime and replace it with a system based on full equality for all, including the right of return of Palestinian refugees. Also emphasized was the inclusive and anti-discriminatory character which forms the crux of the BDS vision. Adri Nieuwhof (contributor to the Electronic Intifada, former member of the Netherlands Committee on Southern Africa) juxtaposed the BDS movement and the former boycott campaign against apartheid South Africa, providing insights into their parallels and differences, as well as the lessons to be learned from the South African successes and shortcomings. Wendela de Vries (Netherlands Campaign Against Arms Trade) shed a light on the far-reaching extent of arms trade between the Netherlands/the EU and Israel, including Israeli marketing of their weaponry as ‘battle tested’ (i.e. tested in attacks on Palestinians). Also noted was the high demand for Israeli surveillance technology, including by Frontex in its attempt to deter refugees, disregarding the well-documented associated abuses both in Israel and beyond. It was noted that such dealings constitute Dutch/EU complicity in Israeli war crimes and violations of Palestinian rights. Alina Achenbach, PhD student International Relations and GfP member, moderated the event. (Click here for a Dutch translation of Omar Barghouti’s speech at the RUG)
In our 20 March event, Palestine: The Expropriation of a Land and Its People, we screened the documentary ‘Jaffa, The Orange’s Clockwork’. Once the cultural, economic and agricultural pride of Palestine, referred to as the ‘Bride of the Sea,’ the film narrates how the Nakba ruptured the prior coexistence between Jaffa’s Palestinian and Jewish inhabitants, forced the indigenous Palestinian population into exile, expropriated their land and took ownership of their prize agricultural and export product, the Jaffa orange, disingenuously marketing it as Israeli. The subsequent discussion was moderated by BDS-NL Student Coordinator, Sammy.
IAW Groningen ended on 21 March with a workshop facilitated by Sammy, under the title BDS: Building a Student Movement. In the first part of the workshop insights were provided as to the foundation, scope and vision of the BDS movement, determining factors for a successful campaign, key successes achieved to date, and considerations which led to their success. Particular mention was given to the Academic Boycott and steps which are presently being considered in order to move it forward. In the second part, Sammy laid out possible strategies and steps towards building a campaign focused on a specific target, also highlighting the importance of seeking support from potential allies. The participants were then divided into groups and tasked with laying out effective steps in order to achieve a particular result.
In addition to our own IAW events, various GfP members participated in the anti-racism demonstration in Amsterdam on 18 March and one of our members attended the 24 March closing activity, Resisting Israel’s Settler-colonialism, at the ISS in Den Haag.
To conclude, we look back at a successful IAW with satisfaction. The various events were well attended and (with the exception of a few weak and unsuccessful attempts by zionists to call the facts into question) the interventions during the Q&A’s were notably well informed and constructive. We can also happily report that a number of those who attended signed up to join our GfP group.