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Students for a Free Palestine
an article by Angela Saad

Going to a university in which one third of the students are Jewish, it is difficult to lead an organization entitled Students for a Free Palestine. It began last year when I was a freshman. Despite the difficulties, we have been able to educate many students who are uninvolved on the issue. After all, our mission statement is to educate the Wesleyan community about the perspective of the Palestinian people both in and outside Israel with a focus on the struggle for human and civil rights. The Palestinian people are fighting to gain a state and to live autonomously without Israeli interference, and there is much support for their struggle.

As the organization has progressed, we have become involved in many aspects of activism through educational forums, peace dinners, and a mock checkpoint. Because of the mock checkpoint we held outside our campus center to portray the lives of the Palestinian people, it caused many people to become upset. Those students who found our actions offensive formed a reactionary group called Students for Israel. This group consists of mainly freshman with a growing number of upperclassmen. This new addition to the Wesleyan campus has caused the relations between those sympathetic to the Palestinians and the pro-Israeli students to become tense - which is putting it mildly.

It is very difficult when any action that we plan, whether a speaker or form of education, is met by others who come to discredit our perspective, but we continue to welcome everyone to our events and hope to have open communication lines for dialogue.

When we held the checkpoints, we did not deny why checkpoints were in existence - to stop terrorism - but it obviously hasn't worked. Instead they are hurting many people by cutting off access to hospitals, schools, jobs and many needs.

Regardless of the influence from Students for Israel, we have continued to work and provide the space for students to become aware of the situation in the Middle East. We hope to educate specifically on the Palestine/Israel issue with the hope of promoting people to be aware and willing to critique something regardless of their loyalties. As a professor at Wesleyan here said, for Israel to be free, Palestine needs to be free.


Question(s) related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian Side of the Conflict, Does this promote a culture of peace?

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We have been pre-occupied with the Israeli bombing of Gaza for the past two weeks and have been receiving horrific photos of the dead and injured from our Palestinian friend in Gaza. We showed the film 'Little Town of Bethlehem' on November 22nd. There is another chance to see it at St. Barnabas Church, Rainbow Hill tonight. We are also showing an exhibition of art from Atfaluna school for deaf children in Gaza. Their pictures were drawn after the bombing of Gaza for three weeks in December/January 2008/2009 when about 1400 Palestinians were killed, including nearly 400 children. There will be many children traumatised by the recent bombing of Gaza when more than 30 children were killed and dozens injured. The total number of deaths was more than 160 Palestinians and 5 Israelis. . ...more.

This report was posted on April 18, 2002.