Apartheid Week will begin Monday in campuses across the US and UK. Throughout the week people will be invited to anti-Israel lectures and workshops, and checkpoints will be set up – but some Israelis are fed up and intend to do something about it.
The London School of Economics' (LSE) International History department sent an email inviting students to participate in a number of the week's events, organized by the local Palestine Society, including a lecture by Israeli Prof. Avi Shlaim, titled: Israel & Palestine: Problems and Prospects.
Dir Glick, 28, an Israeli doing his masters in History and International Relations, responded to the letter, decrying the fact that it was sent through an official LSE e-mail.
"It seems strange to me (that) the department of International History at the LSE uses the term 'Israeli Apartheid' in an official e-mail forwarded to the entire student body. Without starting to debate whether this term is right or wrong, it is clearly a highly controversial, completely political definition which belongs to the world of politics and not to the academia.
"Just as one would not imagine to send an official invitation from the department using words such as 'the justified Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria' - it seems to me outrageous to have clear propaganda such as 'Israeli apartheid' in your mail," Glick wrote in his email.
According to him, "the biggest problem for me is that apartheid is presented as a fact. It becomes a concept when it is forwarded by the department. What happens when a student from China who knows very little about the situation in the Middle East gets such an email?"
Glick's protest prompted the department to send out a clarification email, in which it stressed that the positions and opinions presented in the mail do not represent those held by the department.
"Israeli students around the world must not accept apartheid week invitations as a matter fact," Glick stressed. "We need to write and complain to university officials. Many times such e-mails are sent because of ignorance's or thoughtlessness."
Not far from there at the University of Oxford the situation is similar. "There are 40 Israelis here," said Yishai Mishor, a law doctorate.
"Apartheid week is led by extremists who think I do not have a right to live in my own country. They do not only object to the occupation or West Bank settlements, but to the existence of Israel. The events themselves are propaganda which depict Israel as a racist enterprise, invalid by definition."
"We discovered that the Israeli government's extreme, howling hasbara was an utter failure. We realized that when you project moderate positions which recognize Palestinian rights and not only the rights of Jews, it's not just fair – it's effective."
In an attempt to counter the events, Israeli students will conduct public diplomacy events in their universities and will publish a letter demanding that moderate voices be presented as well.
"They are disseminating the lie according to which Israel is an 'apartheid system' based on a racist regime, and through this guise they attempt to convince you that the Jews have no right to a national homeland," they wrote in the letter.
"When you go to the 'Israel Apartheid Week' events," the letter beseeched the University of Oxford students "we suggest that you will ask the speakers a one simple question: Do you support a Jewish nation state alongside a Palestinian nation state? This is how you will be able to tell, to which camp does the person in front of you belong, moderates or extremeists."
Ilan Ofir, an Israeli involved in the issue at the University of Michigan, said "At Ann Arbor we are promoting dialogue about the state of Israel that will allow students from all political opinions and background to engage with what Israel means.
"The problem with BDS – which Apartheid Week serves – is that it ignores realities on the ground and perpetuates the conflict by not bridging gaps but enhancing them.
"This week we will be bringing a pro-peace group to discus this issue in a pragmatic way which brings the two sides together to show how direct engagement with this topic will take us forward."
"The boycott itself perpetuates the conflict by ignoring both sides of the equation. It must be established that the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians is not a zero-sum game."
Shahar Chai, Yitzhak Benhorin and Omer Benjakob contributed to this report