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Groups Condemn ´Israeli Apartheid Week´ (AP) By BETH DUFF-BROWN TORONTO, Canada 01/31/05 7:21 PM)Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52334-2005Jan31.html AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
TORONTO - A University of Toronto student group has organized a series of lectures this week titled, "Israeli Apartheid Week," drawing condemnation from Jewish groups in a country where anti- Semitic incidents are on the rise.

The program, organized by the Arab Students´ Collective, includes lectures about the roots of what the students call Israel´s ethnic cleansing and segregation of Palestinians.

"We´re trying to educate people on the fact that Israel is an apartheid state and not simply a military occupier of the Gaza," said Hazem Jamjoum, a member of the student group.

The students set up a mock Palestinian refugee camp on campus to show passers-by the conditions in which they say many Palestinians have lived since the 1948 war that followed Israel´s creation.

The students insist their program is not meant to be a slight against the Jewish people, but what they call an oppressive Jewish state. They note Jewish students are taking part in some activities and Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian at the University of Haifa, is scheduled to speak Thursday. Other speakers come from pro-Palestinian and Arab groups.

The program has infuriated Jewish and human rights groups, noting the title alone is enough to frighten thousands of Jewish students on campus.

"Is the University of Toronto hosting a free and scholarly exchange of ideas, or a racist rally masquerading as an academic conference?" asked Alastair Gordon of the Canadian Coalition for Democracies.

Canada has been named one of the five countries with the highest rates of anti-Semitic incidents, along with France, Britain, Russia and Germany.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada more than doubled since 2000, with 584 incidents in 2003, according to B´nai Brith Canada, the country´s leading Jewish human rights group, which has condemned the University of Toronto program.

Frank Dimant, vice president of B´nai Brith Canada, said the university had shown "cowardice" by not banning the event.

"We hope that there won´t be violence, but my heart goes out to the visible Jewish students, those wear skullcaps and identify themselves as Jews, who have to run the gauntlet this entire week," he added.

David Farrar, vice-provost of students, defended the university by saying the student club had the right to free speech.

"The very fact that the Arab Students´ Collective and other campus groups exist speaks to a central value at the University of Toronto," Farrar said in a statement. (Copyright 2005 Associated Press. 01/31/05)

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