Students for Palestine
Last week, University of Southern California’s Students for Justice in Palestine hosted Palestine Awareness Week to expose the struggles of the Palestinian people under prolonged, brutal occupation and oppression.
SJP is a graduate and undergraduate group of students of various faiths, backgrounds, and academic interests that stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people, who are struggling for peace and justice, and promotes awareness of fundamental issues of international law, human rights and basic standards of justice, and democratic principles essential to achieving a resolution.
SJP erected a wall in the Von Kleinsmid Center courtyard meant to represent the 26-foot concrete wall — referred to by some as a fence — that separates the West Bank and Israel, keeps families from one another, inhibits economic activity and usurps private Palestinian land. Throughout the week, lectures covered the separation wall, occupation, apartheid segregation, the structure of settler colonialism in Palestine and the medical needs of Palestinian women and children. On Wednesday afternoon, representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union discussed academic freedom, freedom of speech and law enforcement.
“Invasion is not an event, it is a structure.” UCLA Professor Gabriel Piterberg differentiated the two types of settler colonialism, indicating the traits of the structure that is practiced by Jews in Palestine.
“They want the land, they do not need the Palestinian labor,” Piterberg said. And for that reason, Israelis practice the pure settlement type — as opposed to plantation colonization — that systematically and institutionally discriminates against non-Jewish peoples.
Never mind the 5 million UN-recognized refugees and the thousands more that are continually being displaced, refugees who have the right to return under international law and yet have been prevented from doing so. This stands in stark contrast to the right given by the Israeli government for any Jew in the world to “return” and gain full Israeli citizenship.
Israeli policymakers are also intent on squeezing the 5.5 million Palestinians that live within Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip through hundreds of checkpoints within the West Bank, a siege on Gaza, house demolitions and confiscations.
I refer to the occupation of Palestine as colonization, as many scholars in the field do; they have come to realize that the asymmetry renders the situation radically different that the dual-nationalist struggle that has been claimed by both sides in the past. Palestinians are engaged in a national struggle in the face of Israeli colonization.
As a member of SJP, I work to support Palestinians struggling on a daily basis to exist in a place where their existence is perceived as a threat to a “Jewish state.”
I do not expect Americans to hold my views on what a final outcome of negotiations should yield. Rather, I take a stand for justice, equality and freedom for all Jews, Christians and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians between the River and the Sea.
I want Americans to realize that the current situation renders negotiation futile and unfair. I want Americans to realize that U.S. policy enables the status quo in the face of overwhelming disapproval by most of the world’s population as reflected in the United Nations General Assembly. Last year, only the U.S., Israel and seven small nations voted against Palestinian statehood.
U.S. media is one-sided and inaccurate, excluding the Palestinian narrative. Thusly, Americans lack access to information on core issues, including the role of the U.S. in providing Israel with at least $3.1 billion in annual military aid. This does not include additional loan guarantees, weapons and crucial diplomatic support enabling the aggressive militarized colonization of Palestinian land.
Instead, I would like to see constructive U.S. policy that ends the country’s role as an enabler of conflict, fulfills its duty as an objective arbitrator and promotes regional peace.
The hostility received from passersby that were “pro-Israel” during Palestine Awareness Week did not nearly measure up to the amount of support that the USC student body expressed for the Palestinian struggle and SJP’s efforts to expose one of the greatest ongoing injustices — the colonization of Palestine. I speak for SJP when I thank everyone that came by “the wall” to show their support and seek information.
To keep up with future events and continue the discussion, “Like” USC Students for Justice in Palestine’s Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior, International Relations