Students Protest Israeli Army Campus Visits
Posted by uscsjp on December 10, 2010
Some Recent Headlines from Democracy Now!
U.S. Drops Incentives Deal for Partial Israeli Settlement Freeze
“The Obama administration says it’s withdrawing an offer of sweeping incentives to Israel in return for a limited settlement freeze in the occupied West Bank. Israel was reportedly promised 20 advanced F-35 warplanes worth around $3 billion and a U.S. pledge to veto U.N. resolutions deemed hostile to Israeli policies. Israel would have been free to continue building settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and then throughout the West Bank after just 90 days. Israel reportedly rejected a similar offer in September out of a blanket refusal to stop any settlement expansion but revived negotiations last month. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says the latest talks were sidelined following the WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables and the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. In Washington, State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley gave few details on why the administration had dropped the plan.
P.J. Crowley: ‘We thought for a period of time that the moratorium, and then a resumption of the moratorium, might be the best mechanism to advance a meaningful and sustained dialogue between the parties. We’ve come to the conclusion that that is not the best basis to move forward. We will have further conversations on the substance with the parties and will continue to try to find ways to create the kind of confidence that will eventually, we hope, allow them to engage directly.’
Palestinians and critics of the Obama administration’s Mideast policy had widely denounced the incentives. This week, the linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky wrote: ‘Washington’s pathetic capitulation to Israel while pleading for a meaningless three-month [settlement] freeze… should go down as one of the most humiliating moments in U.S. diplomatic history.'”
–Democracy Now!, 8 December, 2010
Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay Recognize Palestinian State in Occupied Territories
“The Palestinian effort for statehood has received a boost with recognition from three South American countries. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have each declared their recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip based on the 1967 borders. Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman announced his government’s stance on Monday.
Héctor Timerman: ‘The president of the nation, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, sent a letter to the president of the National Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, saying that the Argentine government recognizes Palestine as a free and independent state in the borders as they were in 1967 and according to what the parties determined during the negotiation process.’
Israel has harshly condemned the moves as an affront to the so-called ‘peace process.’ With U.S. support, Israel has insisted on maintaining control of large Jewish-only settlement blocs that carve up the West Bank. Aid groups meanwhile continue to denounce the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and ongoing restrictions in the West Bank. Kate Allen of Amnesty International said Palestinians are being ‘systematically’ deprived of water.
Kate Allen: ‘There is a systematic and deliberate means of stopping water getting to Palestinian families, and that is having a dramatic effect upon the way in which people are able to live their lives. Water is an absolute basic necessity. It’s a human right. It is shocking to see that the Israeli government is behaving in this way.’
–Democracy Now!, 7 December, 2010
And From The Electronic Intifada:
Why We Walked Out
“Students across the US are protesting a public relations campaign that brings soldiers from the Israeli army to speak on campuses. These tours are an attempt to justify recent war crimes committed by the army and are coordinated by various organizations, the most well-known being the Zionist organization StandWithUs.
Our protests have drawn attention to the massive Israeli human rights abuses in the occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The protests started on 20 October 2010, when two Israeli army soldiers visited the University of Michigan campus. Students, staff and community members collectively engaged in a silent walk-out in memory of and in solidarity with the Palestinian children who were silenced by the Israeli military during Israel’s three-week bombardment of the Gaza Strip in winter 2008-09.
As students at the University of Michigan, we simply could not let these soldiers attempt to justify atrocities on our college campus. We decided that a silent protest would be a creative way to give voice to the victims of these human rights abuses, but we had no idea that our protest would spark such momentum, strengthening the growing sense of collaboration and unity across the nation and inspiring international solidarity across college campuses. Specifically, it was the protest footage that allowed our actions to resonate with many other universities and communities across the world (video available on YouTube).
Two weeks after the Israeli soldiers visited the University of Michigan, on 2 November 2010 Israeli army Sergeant Nadav Weinberg came to Arizona State University to speak about the purported ethics of the Israeli military. In response, a diverse group of Arizona State University students joined together to protest his lecture. At Arizona State University, we protested the sergeant in order to highlight the inherent contradiction between the Israeli army’s claims of ethical action and their numerous human rights violations, including attacks on densely-populated civilian areas, policies of disproportionate force and use of Palestinians as human shields.
Inspired by the protest at the University of Michigan, the Arizona State University protest was also silent. We believe that this use of silence was intrinsic to the success of both student-led protests. We knew that demonstrations that focus on the human rights situation in Palestine are often delegitimized for their methodology, and not for their message. Our silence, on the other hand, left no room for the soldiers, organizers, or attendees to attempt to impugn our action. We stood in silence to honor those who have been silenced by Israeli atrocities. Our shirts spoke for us, bearing the names of the dead to draw awareness to the human rights violations that have been committed by the very same forces that these soldiers represented.
StandWithUs described a soldier who spoke at the University of Michigan, Shai, as a member of the “elite Givati infantry brigade.” The Israeli Military Police investigated this same brigade for an air strike during the Gaza invasion that targeted a civilian home, killing 21 civilians, including women and children, and wounding 19 more.
For our protests, we decided to use methods of nonviolent resistance, acting in solidarity with the thousands of Palestinians who protest nonviolently against the illegal Israeli occupation, illegal Israeli settlements and illegal Israeli system of apartheid. In doing so, we follow in a long-established tradition of nonviolent protests that led to drastic social change: the civil rights movement in the United States, the Gandhian movement for Indian independence and the recent Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.
Our message is clear: as students, we will not tolerate Israeli human rights abuses. In organizing these protests, we hope to revive the spirit of movements that led to civil rights, equal rights for women and an end to South African apartheid. In this way, our nonviolent protests can serve as a model for global citizens to express their discontent with Israel’s policy towards Palestinians. As students in the US, it is our responsibility to critique our government and educational institutions for their unquestioning support for Israeli atrocities. Let it be known: whenever Israel and its supporters attempt to whitewash war crimes, they will be challenged with truth and justice.
Ahmad Hasan is a junior studying brain behavior and cognitive sciences and philosophy at the University of Michigan. He is the co-chair of Students Allied for Freedom & Equality (SAFE) and worked to coordinate the silent walk-out protest at Michigan.
Danielle Bäck is a junior premedical student at Arizona State University. She is the media coordinator for Students for Justice in Palestine at Arizona State University, as well as the co-president of the ASU Coalition for Human Rights.”
—The Electronic Intifada, 3 December, 2010