Members of Tufts SJP protested at Friends of Israel's "Taste of Israel" event on Oct. 28. Nora Nord / The Tufts Daily

SJP members disrupt annual ‘Taste of Israel’ event with signs, flyers

Members of Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) disrupted “Taste of Israel,” an annual event hosted by Friends of Israel (FOI) that is intended to introduce students to Israeli culture and food, in the Carmichael Hall lounge last Thursday.

Foods such as falafel, hummus, fresh produce and waffles were spread out on five tables at the event. Students in SJP, an international college student organization that supports the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination, were present at the event to protest the appropriation of Palestinian food as part of Israeli culture, according to SJP member Nic Serhan, a junior.

Claudia Aliff, another SJP member, explained that the appropriation of food is a large part of the oppression of Palestinians.

At approximately 6:20 p.m., 20 minutes after the event began, SJP members walked into the Carmichael lounge with signs that read “Taste of Israeli Occupation” and “Don’t dip into apartheid,” among other phrases.

“The disruption of this event is the purpose,” Aliff, a junior, said.

Students from SJP distributed flyers titled “Israeli Culture is not Apolitical!” to people at the event, as well as chocolates whose wrappers contained facts about Israel.

“Thanks to the Taste of Israeli Blockades, Palestinian imports in Gaza have been heavily restricted and exports barred. Israeli companies profit from a monopoly on the supply of goods to Gaza, making $375 [million] in 2012,” one of the wrappers read.

SJP member Leah Muskin-Pierret said that she felt distaste for the “pain-free narrative told by Hillel and other Jewish organizations on campus.”

FOI can’t expect to put on [a] subtly political event without a challenging opinion,” Muskin-Pierret, a senior, said.

According to FOI vice president Itamar Ben Aharon, a sophomore, FOI is an apolitical student organization that aims to “celebrate Israel beyond the conflict and endorse peace between a secure Israel and a Palestinian state.”

FOI’s co-president, Aviva Weinstein, added that the event tried not to be political and expressed disappointment with SJP‘s organizing at the event.

“It’s disappointing that this is how student groups from the same university interact with each other,” Weinstein, a junior, said. “This event was supposed to be kept apolitical and is a way to show the plurality of cultures.”

Taste of Israel” included a “Plurality” table as part of the event, which detailed the Egyptian origin of falafel and the Arabic origins of hummus.

However, Serhan said that despite the acknowledgement of the non-Israeli origins of certain foods, there were still problems.

“[It’s] nice to see the distinction, but the language is still upsetting,” he said. “It is very violent, acknowledging and talking about one diaspora while completely ignoring the other [Palestinian].”

Sophomore Grant Steinhauer, who is unaffiliated with SJP or FOI, said he was frustrated with the way that SJP disrupted the event.

SJP is using methods which delegitimize their cause,” Steinhauer said. “In order to talk about Palestinians, they shouldn’t hand out chocolate; it undermines what they stand for.”

FOI member Harrison Rubin said that he wished SJP would host their own event to express their opinions, instead of using the FOI event as their platform to do so.

“I wish SJP would do their own event, since Taste of Israel is dedicated to exploring cross-cultural food,” Rubin, a first-year, said.

Approximately one hour into the event, SJP members left the lounge, leaving behind posters and flyers, which were subsequently cleared out by Tufts University Police Department and members of FOI.

The event’s disruptions follow tensions between SJP and FOI on campus in the past over SJP‘s annual Israeli Apartheid Week and Tufts Hillel’s decision not to co-sponsor events with SJP, among others.

Correction: The previous version of this article misidentified Itamar Ben Aharon as the co-president of Friends of Israel, when he is in fact the vice president. Additionally, the original article incorrectly spelled Nic Serhan’s first name “Nick.” The article has been changed to reflect these corrections.

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40 Responses

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  1. evasmagacz
    Oct 31, 2015 - 08:40 AM

    Friends of Israel are using University Police as cleaners! Wow, talk about sense of entitlement.

    • alumni
      Nov 06, 2015 - 12:30 PM

      we couldnt use arabs. they were to busy stabbing civilians.

  2. mxm123
    Oct 31, 2015 - 11:25 AM

    ” FOI co-president Itamar Ben Aharon, Friends of Israel is an apolitical student organization that aims to “celebrate Israel beyond the conflict and endorse peace between a secure Israel and a Palestinian state.””
    That’s a bald face lie.

    FOI operates under the Hillel umbrella. Hillel is a proxy for right wing Israeli organizations that say and do nothing about Israeli apartheid. And then pretend they’re all for peace. Pathetic.

    • Tweedle Dee
      Oct 31, 2015 - 03:04 PM

      SJP has similar connections to larger political organizations. You’re a moron.

      • mxm123
        Oct 31, 2015 - 04:54 PM

        Sure genius, tell us which organizations hosts the SJP on campus.

        • Tweedle Dee
          Nov 02, 2015 - 03:40 PM

          They have cooperated with CAIR. And I’m sure their big national organization operates independently without any funding from the Gulf States 🙂 Your life must be a sad existence if you only go around commenting on college website forums

          • mxm123
            Nov 02, 2015 - 03:50 PM

            Does CAIR host SJP on campus ? Quit makin’ stuff up genius.

          • Tweedle Dee
            Nov 03, 2015 - 03:24 PM

            You act like FOI acts in the interests of these organizations when you actually have no evidence. Quit makin’ stuff up genius

          • mxm123
            Nov 03, 2015 - 04:04 PM

            Excuse me Einstein, you can’t be a part of an organization that knowingly colludes with other racist organizations and continually claim plausible deniability. Everyone sees through it. Deal with it.

          • Tweedle Dee
            Nov 04, 2015 - 04:49 PM

            Yep v racist. Arab states are v tolerant appartently

          • mxm123
            Nov 04, 2015 - 06:08 PM

            Great. We’ll blame Arab states for the Hillel’s bigotry. Nice.

          • Tweedle Dee
            Nov 04, 2015 - 10:07 PM

            “Bigotry” lol

          • ahad_ha_amoratsim
            Nov 10, 2015 - 01:47 PM

            Exactly. And since SJP colludes with Hamas, we can dismiss anything SJP has to say on the subject.

      • ahad_ha_amoratsim
        Nov 10, 2015 - 01:46 PM

        ANYONE who says Israel is an apartheid society is a moron. Or a liar.

  3. mxm123
    Oct 31, 2015 - 11:43 AM

    ““Taste of Israel” included a “Plurality” table” – Does that mean Arabs and other Palestinians living under Israeli rule participated ?

    Alas, Israeli “Plurality” meant they served hummus. No inconvenient Arabs allowed under the Hillel umbrella. After all such people would start asking inconvenient questions regarding Israeli apartheid, which are banned under the Hillel rules.

    So much for “Plurality”.

    • gf579
      Oct 31, 2015 - 05:35 PM

      Tufts Hillel is completely inclusive. Anyone who walks into Shabbat dinner will be welcomed with open arms. While Hillel’s national organization may have conservative beliefs, Tufts Hillel runs interfaith programs and encourages important dialogue. Friends of Israel is an organization whose mission aims to “endorse peace between a secure Israel and a Palestinian state.” It take a lot of balls for SJP to interrupt a cultural event that recognizes plurality for an organization that promotes peace. The real issue here is not the tasteless (no pun intended) demonstration of this event, but the fact that SJP thinks they are at war with an organization whose goals of peace should be aligned with theres.

      • mxm123
        Oct 31, 2015 - 07:50 PM

        “Though FOI wrote an Op-Ed in the Daily calling for civil dialogue, as an affiliate of Tufts Hillel, the group cannot officially co-sponsor dialogues with SJP.”

        http://tuftsobserver.org/debunking-the-debate/

        So much for that “inclusive” shtick.

        What we have is an organization that uses the word “peace”, but will not allow a word of opposition to Israeli apartheid. Its a nice con.

        • ahad_ha_amoratsim
          Nov 10, 2015 - 01:45 PM

          Anyone who uses the term Israeli apartheid has no clue what Israel is, or no clue what apartheid is, or no respect for truth. There is no third option.

          The facts are there for anyone who cares. Those who care more for bashing Israel than for truth will ignore or distort them.

  4. BigSticksWalkSoftly
    Oct 31, 2015 - 01:21 PM

    First Israelis steal land, kill children, ethnically cleanse Palestine, and continue to commit a slow genocide…
    And now they want to steal Palestinian food and pretend nothing is wrong.
    Israel is a racist apartheid state built on lies violence and falafel misinterpretation.
    And all Tufts students can do is cry over how they spilled their latte mocha as Palestinians continue to get maimed and killed with their US tax money
    Disgusting

    • Tweedle Dee
      Oct 31, 2015 - 03:06 PM

      So much hate, but not so much punctuation…

      • mxm123
        Oct 31, 2015 - 08:52 PM

        Why, did they have a candy section for victims of Israeli ethnic cleansing ?

        • Tweedle Dee
          Nov 02, 2015 - 03:42 PM

          Why are you making shit up? SJP was giving out candy. The apologists for convicted bombers were giving out candy.

          • mxm123
            Nov 02, 2015 - 03:51 PM

            If the Hillel was so full of love where was the section for Palestinians in the food fair. Quit being an apologist for apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

          • Tweedle Dee
            Nov 03, 2015 - 03:24 PM

            Again if you read the damn article (or the response), you would see that they explained where everything came from dickhead

          • mxm123
            Nov 03, 2015 - 04:02 PM

            Dear Frustrated Hillel apologist, your buddies at the FOI just issued the standard talking points. Unfortunately for you( and them) no one buys that crap no more.

          • Tweedle Dee
            Nov 04, 2015 - 04:48 PM

            hahahaha where the food originates apparently is a talking point now. I don’t think all anti-zionists are anti-semitic, but the lack of any substance in your argument makes me question your views

          • mxm123
            Nov 04, 2015 - 06:09 PM

            No, i asked where are the Palestinians representing Israel at this fair. Oh wait, now you’re going to deflect. Same old, same old.

          • Tweedle Dee
            Nov 04, 2015 - 10:10 PM

            “Dear Frustrated Hillel apologist, your buddies at the FOI just issued the standard talking points. Unfortunately for you( and them) no one buys that crap no more.” No, not really. And SJP didn’t seem eager to add anything constructive. Hard when the other side doesn’t take it seriously. It’s also FOOD. And the facts weren’t even skewed. What is wrong with you dude?

          • mxm123
            Nov 05, 2015 - 11:15 AM

            Pointing out hypocrisy and open lies is constructive. But then they may not be if you’re the one doing the lying and half truths. Get real dude.

          • Tweedle Dee
            Nov 05, 2015 - 08:04 PM

            Still waiting on examples

        • ahad_ha_amoratsim
          Nov 10, 2015 - 01:54 PM

          No, Arabs pass out candy to celebrate when Jews are murdered.

    • BooIsraelTheyreMeanies
      Nov 01, 2015 - 10:54 AM

      You are so right Bigsticks. Finally someone is exposing the horrific Israeli plan to commit a genocide where the population they’re trying to murder grows by 8 times since it began. And furthermore I think you are so brave to be here on the internet doing something about the horrible apartheid state that Israel is where 20% of the population are Arabs who have equal rights violently forced upon them. Thank god we have courageous, anonymous, Internet freedom fighters like you who are really getting off of their asses and doing something by sitting on their asses doing nothing. you’re a hero.

      • BigSticksWalkSoftly
        Nov 01, 2015 - 04:58 PM

        So why didn’t they, and still don’t let the refugees return?
        And don’t forget about the ethnic cleansing or that
        The arabs palestinian who stayed in israel were labeled enemy combatants for almost 20 years!
        Shameless and disgusting for you to hasbara twist history
        America first
        Not israel

      • ahad_ha_amoratsim
        Nov 10, 2015 - 01:54 PM

        And the poor Arab who was forced to be a Supreme Court justice and preside over the trial of a Jewish former Prime Minister. And the poor Arab contestants who have represented Israel in national and international talent competitions after being chosen to do so by those racist Jews. And the poor Arabs who serve in Israel’s legislature, or who practice law, medicine and other professions at the highest level, side by side with Jews. The poor Arab ladies who had to share a ward with my stepdaughter, in the same hospital, when their infant daughters were being treated in an Israeli hospital. Yep, that’s some apartheid.

        Not to mention that an Arab who wants to buy or rent an apartment in a Jewish neighborhood is free to do so, and often does, but a Jew who wants to buy or rent in an Arab neighborhood takes his life in his hands. And that PA law makes it a capital offense to sell land to a Jew, and the PLO demands, with US support, a state where no Jews would be allowed to live, work or even visit. Remind me again who the apartheid supporters are? And tell me when we can expect to see SJP protesting that.

  5. literably
    Oct 31, 2015 - 07:32 PM

    Interesting tactics. Finding themselves unable to change hearts and minds, SJP has decided to target the stomach.

  6. Albino Squirrel
    Nov 02, 2015 - 08:33 AM

    great way for me to never care about your cause. seriously. you’re jerks. i don’t care a whit about your social plight.

  7. Watchman on the Wall
    Nov 05, 2015 - 11:24 AM

    Terrorist tactics for an organization that supports people that support terrorists. If you love the palestinian cause so much go over there and protest and quit being a passive aggressive group of jerks here!

  8. Shlomo Rosen
    Nov 05, 2015 - 05:29 PM

    We can all be free and happy in Yeshua HaMashiah Sar Shalom (Jesus The Messiah Prince of Peace)

  9. Alumni
    Nov 06, 2015 - 12:10 PM

    Incredible. The PLO supporters want Hillel,a jewish organization to co-sponsor them? Come on, I thought Tufts enrolled bright students. Not all jews are self hating.

  10. 122
    Nov 10, 2015 - 08:18 PM

    it should be legal to kill these 20 year old’s who are thinking they are cool being on the modern day anti-Jew fest, after the Jews were killed in the Millions in the 1940’s, it is not legal to just sit back as the modern day Naazis are trying to have another genocide

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