–Senior Margaret Ringler explains the Israeli Apartheid Week event on Tisch Patio to onlookers on March 9. while senior Johnny Auld stands by a tent representing Israeli settlements in Gaza. Sofie Hecht / The Tufts Daily

Students for Justice in Palestine hold demonstration as part of Israeli Apartheid Week

Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) staged an educational demonstration yesterday on the Tisch Library Patio as a part of its annual Israeli Apartheid Week.

The demonstration involved four stations focusing on the city Hebron in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and a Bedouin community in the Negev Desert. Each station represented an area of Israeli occupation, according to SJP member Sophia Goodfriend. Two of the stations featured tents that represented illegal Jewish occupation on Palestinian land. Israeli flags were hung near the tents to reflect Israeli encroachment.

“We try to draw attention to how the Israeli state systematically discriminates [against] and segregates its Palestinian citizens and those living in occupied Palestine, including those living in the West Bank in exile,” Goodfriend, a senior, said.

At each of the stations, SJP members were available to discuss political issues relevant to the station’s area of focus. Members of SJP also distributed zines and leaflets about concerns with Birthright Israel programs and Israeli’s settlement policy, including a publication the group created, titled “Zintifada.”

“We were talking about the continuous colonial nature of the occupation as more settlements are being built,” SJP member Mile Krstev told the Daily in an email.

The demonstration was part of SJP’s presentation of Israeli Apartheid Week, an international movement which aims “to raise awareness about Israel’s ongoing settler-colonial project and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people,” according to a Israeli Apartheid Week website.

“We’re trying to get people to realize that [apartheid] is a paradigm with which you can see this situation,” SJP member Noah Habeeb said.

Krstev said that while he acknowledges that the term “apartheid” can alienate people who would not identify Israel as an apartheid state, he feels it is the most appropriate language to describe the situation.

“Apartheid is continuously using oppression and actions to continue supremacy of one side over the other,” he said. “It doesn’t sound nice but it’s the name we need to use.”

The event was not publicized beforehand unlike the other events of Israeli Apartheid Week, which include speakers, panel discussions and a play on Saturday that tells the story of a Palestinian citizen killed by the Israeli police, according to the event’s Facebook page.

Goodfriend explained that the demonstration was not advertised to ensure its success.

“We’re just really trying to educate people and we didn’t want to make a big fuss beforehand to make people who might not agree with us prevent us from doing the action,” she said.

SJP has had a history of clashing with other student groups focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Notably, on Oct. 28, 2015, SJP demonstrated at Friends of Israel’s (FOI) annual “Taste of Israel” event, according to an Oct. 30, 2015 article in the Daily. Protestors claimed that FOI was appropriating Palestinian food as part of Israeli culture, a claim which FOI co-president Itamar Ben-Aharon denies.

–Members of Students for Justice in Palestine explain the relationship of Hebron to the Israeli occupation of Palestine to a passerby on the Tisch Patio as a part of Israeli Apartheid Week on March 9, 2016. (Sofie Hecht / The Tufts Daily)

–Members of Students for Justice in Palestine explain the relationship of Hebron to the Israeli occupation of Palestine to a passerby on the Tisch Patio as a part of Israeli Apartheid Week on March 9, 2016. (Sofie Hecht / The Tufts Daily)

However, Ben-Aharon, a sophomore, said that he did not object to SJP’s demonstration yesterday.

“I thought that they did it very respectfully, while I disagree with a lot of what they said,” he said.

Specifically, Ben-Aharon argued that the Israelis were just as much indigenous to the land as the Palestinians, and that while the Jews did get more land, much of it was from the desert and was not useful.

Keren Hendel, vice president of the Tufts American-Israel Alliance and member of the Tufts Students for Two States coalition, also did not object to the protest, but said that she felt the information could have been better presented.

SJP has the right to express their opinions, just like any other group on campus,” she said. “I just wish they used tactics that promoted a more nuanced dialogue on our campus about a very complicated conflict.”

Andrew Goldblatt, co-chair of J Street U Tufts, also did not agree with the facts presented at the demonstration.

“At J street U we agree that settlements in the West Bank are problematic and are a road block to a two state solution,” he said. “We don’t believe Israel is an apartheid state or a settler colonial enterprise and don’t support events that paint Israel as such.”

Ultimately, SJP members wanted to show that they want to open the discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with their peers, according to Habeeb, a senior. 

“There’s often a perception that we’re not willing to have open discourse which to us is nonsense,” he said. “We have open coffees every Friday where anyone can come and speak with us [and] we have educational events like this where we’ll engage with anyone when they walk about.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that FOI co-president Itamar Ben-Aharon disagrees with SJP’s claim that the Israelis removed indigenous Palestinians from their land, however this is incorrect. The Daily regrets this error.

–Sophomore Lindsay Sanders sets up a tent on the Tisch Patio to represent Israeli settlements as a part of Israeli Apartheid Week on March 9. (Sofie Hecht / The Tufts Daily)

–Sophomore Lindsay Sanders sets up a tent on the Tisch Patio to represent Israeli settlements as a part of Israeli Apartheid Week on March 9. (Sofie Hecht / The Tufts Daily)


3 Responses

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  1. Simon Levian
    Mar 11, 2016 - 02:50 AM

    Israel is certainly an apartheid state, but for reasons you NEVER knew (very informative for the open-minded): http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/yes-israel-is-an-apartheid-state/2016/03/10/

  2. visiting alumi
    Apr 21, 2016 - 06:49 PM

    I wonder when the pro BDS students will say something about the massive discrimination jews face in the Arab world. Jews are not allowed to own property in Jordan and Jews cannot legally reside in Saudi Arabia. For many decades Syrian Jews were not allowed to travel outside Syria, in fact to leave Syria they had to maay outside the country.

    It is becauser of this and many other reasons) that the BDS movement is considered not anti-zionist movement but rather an antisemitic movement.

    As to the claim the Israel is an apartheid state that is cheap retoric. One can argue weather they are occupying the West Bank but the claim that Israel properis an aparthaid state has no basis in reality. Non-jews serve in the Israeli supreme court, are members of the Israel defense forces and serve in the parliament with complete freedom of speech. Thats not the case of nay religious minory in Arab countries. Interestingly, Iran does the best job of protecting christian jewish rights.

    Israeli arabs may have a lesser economic level than their jewish isralei counter parts, but so do latinos and african americans in the Us and tha tdoe not make the US an aparthaid state. However, the average israeli arab has a better standar of living and education and more democratic rights than other arabs in the region. Just think about it. When was the last time election were help in Gaza or the West Bank?

    I agree with Palestinan self determination but with the lies of advocated of the BDS movement this only closes the possibility of dialogue.

  3. Beer Baron
    Nov 27, 2016 - 10:35 PM

    Under international law, Jews are entitled to live anywhere in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. There is no such thing as Palestinian land and never was. The West Bank and Gaza never belonged to any sovereign ruler after the British withdrew from Mandatory Palestine; before that it was part of the Ottoman empire.

    Israel actually acquired the West Bank from “Trans-Jordan” in a defensive war in 1967. Under international law, Israel is not required to transfer the land to a third-party.

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