by Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace, New Haven
This is an excerpt from a viewpoint published in the CT Mirror on March 2, 2022. The entire article can be read at ctmirror.org/2022/03/02/connecticut-must-oppose-israeli-apartheid-shelly.
In 1982, Connecticut took the lead among states to be on the right side of history by passing legislation requiring divestiture from South Africa for its practice of apartheid.
In February, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and University of Connecticut President Radenka Maric led a delegation to Israel, seeking to strike deals with Israeli businesses to locate in Connecticut. Lamont says “Israel is a perfect fit because they are the leading innovators in life sciences, biotech and the defense industry — all the groups that we’re bringing over.” The Israeli defense industry has for years used Gaza and the West Bank as testing grounds for weapon and surveillance technology.
On Feb. 1, Amnesty International released a report based on four years of field research, concluding that Israel maintains a “system of oppression and domination over Palestinians” which “amounts to apartheid.” The crime against humanity of apartheid under international law is committed when serious human rights violations are perpetrated in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, with the intention to maintain that system.
Some Israeli and American politicians and organizations have been quick to label the Amnesty International report as “false” and “antisemitic.” Middle East scholar Jennifer Lowenstein reports on the frequent charge of antisemitism against any criticism of Israel, noting “it is easier to shout at, label, condemn, and discredit the bearers of the message than to rebut the facts.”
Israeli journalist Gideon Levy questions the critics. Levy asks “What, precisely, is incorrect in the apartheid report?… Does Israel not maintain a regime of oppression and control of Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied territories for the benefit of Israeli Jews? Is the nation-state law not apartheid? Is there a single sphere, in Israel or the territories, in which there is true, absolute equality, except in name?”
In ignoring Israel’s well-documented practice of apartheid, Governor Lamont, UConn President Maric and their delegations are on the wrong side of history. It’s a disservice to the students of UConn to promote work/study opportunities in an apartheid state. It’s a stain on Connecticut’s name to seek out this partnership.