Israeli Apartheid week (IAW) was first held in Canada in 2004. In 2008 it encompasses events in Canada, Mexico, South Africa, the UK, the USA and the Palestinian Territories. Its stated aim, in line with the NGO declaration from the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban, is "to create a widespread awareness of Israeli apartheid and to bolster support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign." The organizers assert the "imperative of" "isolat[ing] the Israeli apartheid regime."
Despite serious critiques of such "apartheid" rhetoric, many NGOs continue to use it as a political tool to delegitimize the existence of Israel. War on Want (WoW), which is funded by the UK and Irish governments, featured in Warwick University's program. On February 7, 2008, WoW's Senior Global Justice Campaigner, Ruth Tanner spoke on "Resistance day’: ‘Resisting the occupation: should we bother?" Berkely University, exhibited an ICAHD photographic display and Linda Ramsden, Chair of ICAHD UK is a listed speaker of the UK event. Rochama Marton, founder and President of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), which receives money from the EU and Finnish Embassy among others, addressed a panel at the UK university, SOAS on February 11, 2008. On February 14, SOAS will also host a panel on "Media and Normalising Israeli Apartheid," which lists Yizhar Be’er, Executive Director of Keshev and former executive director of B’Tselem, and Haneen Zoubi, General Director of NIF and British council-funded I’lam, as speakers.
IAW's material selects and distorts facts to support its destructive political agenda, including baseless claims of "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians, the "720 km long concrete wall", and that "[t]orture is used against virtually every Palestinian arrested." The participation of NGOs, funded by governments and the NIF, which claim to promote universal human rights, in an event which distorts these values to demonize Israel, is highly troubling.