Sunday, July 3, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
The action targeted MK Avi Dicther, an international war criminal wanted for crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Convention. Dichter ordered the tortures of detained Palestinians while he served as head of Shabak, the Israeli Intelligence Services. In July 2002, Dichter ordered the assassination of a Hamas commander by dropping a one-ton bomb on his home in a residential area, causing the deaths of 15 people, including 9 children, and injuring dozens more.
When Dicther spoke, a dozen Brandeis students stood and demanded that he turn himself in to authorities, distributing warrants for his arrest. In English and in Hebrew, the students listed charges against Dichter, including torture and the bombing of civilians. They ended their disruption by chanting in Hebrew "Don't worry Avi Dicther, we'll meet you in the Hague."
The action aimed to alert the Brandeis community to the presence of a war criminal on campus. "We believe that Avi Dichter must be put to trial for his crimes against humanity," said participant Liza Behrendt.
Participant Paraska Tolan stated, "War criminals have a right to speak on our campus, but students also have the right to hold them publicly accountable for their crimes. This serves as a message that Dichter should not feel welcome, even at Brandeis University."
Lisa Hanania, a Palestinian student at Brandeis and member of SJP, said that she was extremely disturbed by the racist comments from some of the MKs. “MK Tzipi Hotovely claimed that ‘Arabs have a different D.N.A. that lacks humanity.’ As a citizen of the Israel, I am deeply concerned that claims as such pave the way for the state to slide into an openly racist ethnocracy.”
Noam Lekach, a first-year from Israel, stated, "Brandeis claims to promote social justice, but today they invited legislators who openly espouse racist attitudes towards Palestinians."
The students emphasize that, although they targeted Dichter specifically, all MKs should be held accountable for recent racist legislation such as the "Loyalty Oath," the criminalization of Nakba commemoration, and the institutionalization of residential discrimination.
Friday, April 1, 2011
by PHILIP WEISS on APRIL 1, 2011 (Mondoweiss)
Along with a co-editor of the Goldstone Report, I spoke at two law schools Wednesday, Northeastern and Boston University. Northeastern is a progressive law school and there was an enveloping sense of solidarity, especially when a softspoken young man with an Arab name and a bag with Frieda Kahlo's image on the side came up to me after and said that he was organizing the undergraduate boycott movement. I was in the right place at the right time.
At Boston University there was more opposition, and it was actually energizing, so I'd like to describe that. There is a strong chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine at BU, and I met several of those students before the event in a beautiful hall at the law school. One of them in a sweatshirt was leaning back in his chair next to his girlfriend and the others were giving him grief about how long he'd been active and he grinned and said, “Hey I’ve been working on Palestine since I was 15,” and I had the impression I had many times that night, that the young people have a clear understanding of the issue, way ahead of me. The apprehension of the left surrounding Palestine is ending, the issue is the issue if you’re a young leftist. I'm talking about the political territory they’ve taken. Just as South Africa was, or the Freedom Marches in the 60s, or Central America in the 80s-- Israel/Palestine is the focus for idealistic activists, and they don't have any of my generation's hangups as we used to say (more about the hangups below).
Two of the B.U. organizers told me more about the campus scene. If you’re with Students for Israel, the pro-Israel group, you’re pretty much on the right in campus life. When Israeli Apartheid Week happened in February, the pro-Israel groups mobilized against it and tried to get it off campus as anti-semitic, but Students for Justice in Palestine pointed out to the university president that four of their members were Jewish, so where’s the anti-Semitism? The university let the apartheid week demo stay. Then when David Horowitz tried to throw in gangbusters with the pro-Israel folks, to make an issue about Israeli apartheid week at the school,the Students for Israel said, You know what David, thanks but no thanks, don't "push it." Apparently they were afraid that his blatant Islamophobia would drive Arab students into the ranks of the Justice for Palestine crowd.
Three or four pro-Israel students came to our Goldstone talk and they all asked questions. They were in the second row. Their questions were polite, almost friendly. They didn’t really have numbers, if I were in their crowd I would have been intimidated. The room was against them, young and old. Apparently two of the pro-Israel students were Hasbara fellows. They didn’t denounce us, they just questioned us about Hamas’s tactics and the festering refugee issue and similar matters. I saw them clapping at the end, politely.
Afterward a young Jew came up to me and talked about her Jewish agony about the issue and not wanting to be anti-Israel but also not wanting to endorse what’s going on there. Her father had read the Goldstone Report and confessed to her that it was accurate-- which left her in a quandary about what to do about it. I urged this person to explore Jewish Voice for Peace-- and J Street too if that's where she felt more comfortable-- and start walking the road. It’s a hard road for young Jews. That wasn't the only encounter of this nature that we had. It seems that young idealistic Jews who have been raised loving Israel are in a state of agony right now. The facts are so overwhelmingly negative, from the Netanyahu government to the unending peace process to the killings of Palestinian children; and a good part of the Jewish community is opening its eyes to the truth, at last. Ancient orders inside the community, to maintain unity to the outside world, or to see the Diaspora as beneath Eretz Israel, a lot of those religious orders are dissolving. (Noam Sheizaf discusses the growing war inside the official liberal American Jewish community over Israel, here).
A bunch of us went out to dinner after and I learned two things. One is that the antiwar movement on campus is weak, and in its place the pro-Palestinian movement is growing. You might remember that when the antiwar movement was strong in 2002-2005 or so, there were battles among organizers about giving any place to the Palestinian issue. Well that struggle is over. I was told that students who would be antiwar are working on Palestine, and there are lots of creative actions around it.
The other thing I learned was about life in Bil’in.
A student was with us who had worked with the popular committees. (I'm not going to name him till I can get in touch with him.) He is Jewish but unlike my generation of Jews is not burdened by the racism, xenophobia, and fear of the other that I grew up with. In a word, he is from a more comfortably empowered, multicultural milieu. So he could get past these cultural issues in an instant-- where it has been a tormented struggle for me.
He was not as pitying as I am of the pro-Israel students. He said they are supporting ethnic cleansing; and he told us stories of two families being ethnically cleansed in East Jerusalem before his eyes. Then he told me about the nighttime raids on Bil’in to take away boys for throwing stones. The Israelis would try to identify boys who threw stones at the demonstrations and it was a six month sentence for throwing stones and if you damaged an Israeli jeep it was two years. As soon as the boys were imprisoned they were put under pressure to sign documents in Hebrew, a language they could not read, implicating the leaders of the popular committee in ordering the boys to throw stones. Israel is trying to smash the popular committees of resistance, and the student had slept in Bil'in for a few weeks, to try and help the little village resist the raids.
The student said he got used to a lot of things in the resistance movement-- he got used to tear gas, he got used to the percussion grenades (which scare the shit out of me). But he never got used to the nighttime raids.
They came at 4 in the morning. The soldiers used the stirring of the morning prayer to hide their own movements through the village. Then they knocked down the front door, and dragged the 14 year old or 15 year old away, they bound the boys' hands and moved off through the village with a phalanx of soldiers. The student was there to try and prevent arrests, and felt a sense of failure every time a boy was dragged off. Because the looks on the boys' faces, he said, was pure childlike terror. I thought about the honor we granted the stone throwers in Egypt, I thought about Jewish history in Europe, when they broke our doors down.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Monday, February 28, 2011
Israel Apartheid Week. As a result of its activities and the success it has had in showing the true face of the structural violence, BU Students for Israel has committed itself to sending threatening emails and trying to shut down SJP's activites. Below is a threatening email that BU SJP received and its response:
To Whom It May Concern,
It has come to the attention of the Boston University Students for
Israel (BUSI) that next week is Israeli Apartheid Week and that in
recognition of this Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) will be
constructing a mock "wall" on campus.
It is our concern that such a demonstration will only serve to sensationalize and simplify a most complex, nuanced, and profoundly serious situation. This will only inflame emotions, and incite hatred. Ultimately, the mock up will be counterproductive to promoting objective and intellectual analysis of the realities of the region and of the histories of both Arabs and Jews.
It is our suggestion that SJP refrain from constructing such a structure
and from sensationalizing the Arab-Israeli conflict. In place of this mock wall BUSI suggests that members of SJP and BUSI stand side-by-side next week to promote an organized forum for
discourse between all parties!
We would like to emphasize that we are not demanding that SJP refrain from expressing the substance of your opinions. In fact, we are demanding nothing! We recognize your right to freedom of speech, and to express your beliefs by any peaceful means that you determine to be
appropriate. However, we ask that you consider whether sensationalism, politicized slogans, and other forms of negative and grandiose propaganda are fitting for the academic integrity of Boston University. Moreover, we ask, do such spectacles do justice to the level of education and intelligence of the Boston University student body?
We eagerly await your response, and a representative of BUSI will be
ready to meet you at your convenience!
With Hopes of Peace,
Boston University Students for Israel
Boston University SJP responded with the following:
To BU Students For Israel
Our original plan for Israel Apartheid Week did not include building a replica of the Apartheid Wall. But after receiving an email threat and hearing that members of BUSI complained to SAO about a wall we had not discussed, we decided to construct one.
We understand that you are embarrassed about the wall, because the wall is an embarrassment. Rather than sending people to complain to SAO about it, you should be condemning the Israeli government for its extensive confiscation of land, the expanse of checkpoints, the illegal settlements, and system of closures involved in imprisoning the Palestinian population. You should be incensed that the Israeli government ignored the International Court of Justice's ruling condemning it or its utilization to divide Palestinians into ghettos. Instead of standing up for justice and peace, you are on the side of the oppressors over the oppressed.
We refuse to take part in whitewashing Israel's public image, and therefore reject any Israeli-Palestinian meetings that do not recognize Palestinian inalienable rights, and and do not explicitly aim to resist Israel's occupation, colonization and apartheid. Israeli-Palestinian
meetings that are not committed to such principles give a false picture of equality between the two parties by ignoring and legitimizing Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people. We will not contribute to any event that undermines Palestinian rights, or portrays Israel as anything but
what it really is: an apartheid state.
You talk about co-existence, but there can be no co-existence until the Israelis allow the Palestinians to exist.
In Defense Of Justice,