By Sweza Ilyas
Published: March 11, 2014
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organized two events this past week as part of the annual global Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). This week is designed to raise awareness about Israel’s illegal occupation and system of apartheid and to build Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaigns as part of an expanding worldwide movement. These events are part of IAW New York and New Jersey, which run from March 7 to March 14. More than 23 cities in the US are taking part in this year’s IAW, according to IsraeliApartheidWeekUSA.org, with more cities and campuses increasingly getting involved.
The first even of Brooklyn College’s SJP was a mock apartheid wall on the quad on Tuesday. The idea behind this action was to educate our college community about the actual apartheid wall currently being built by Israel on stolen Palestinian land, as explained on VisualizingPalestine.org.
According to the Electronic Intifada, Elbit Systems is the company responsible for the construction of the wall and it is the same company that recently signed a $145 million-contract with the US Department of Homeland Security to (DHS) to provide similar systems on the US-Mexico border.
Students from various clubs wore a segment of the wall featuring images, messages, and facts about Israeli apartheid. More than 30 students participated in SJP’s reenactment of wall.
Among the messages was a quote by Nelson Mandela that read: “For to be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedoms of others.” This quote is very relevant, as it highlights SJP’s commitment to justice and equality for all peoples.
The Israeli apartheid wall currently restricts Palestinians’ freedom of movement. At 25 feet, it is more than twice the height of the Berlin wall, which was 11.8 feet, and is much longer as well, according to the Electronic Intifada. This wall, along with Israeli settlements, has been declared illegal by the United Nations and countless non-governmental organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
It seems that these are some of the main obstacles for any real peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians to take place.
SJP’s second event was on Thursday, March 6, which was a discussion with visiting speaker and Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah. He is the co-founder of the widely read online publication, the Electronic Intifada. His new book, “The Battle for Justice in Palestine,” focuses on the current situation in Israel and Palestine. Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of “The Color Purple,” described this book as the “book to read to understand the present and ongoing Palestine/Israel tragedy.”
During his talk, Ali Abuniman discussed Israel’s discriminatory laws. There are over 50 laws that currently and actively discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel, according to Adalah.org.
The attendance for both events was phenomenal, and plenty of informational flyers were distributed. SJP received positive responses from many of students who seem to have successfully made a connection between struggles here and what Palestinians face daily.
People often ask what they can do to help the SJP, and the simplest answer is come to our events and tables, ask questions, and take on the BDS campaign, which aims to put economic pressure on Israel to give Palestinians their basic human rights as stipulated in international law.
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Students for Justice in Palestine