Students for Justice in Palestine gives lesson on history, occupation

Olivia Exstrum, Campus Editor

Students for Justice in Palestine hosted “Palestine 101” on Friday, a teach-in for students and Northwestern community members to learn more about Palestine’s history, common misconceptions and its current state.

The event packed Harris 107 and those in attendance were required to present a WildCARD or another student ID.

“We’re here to give you a breakdown of tools of resistance and oppression,” Weinberg senior Serene Darwish said.

The presentation began with Darwish and her co-facilitator, Weinberg senior Dalia Fuleihan, discussing different vocabulary pertinent to the conversation. They explained the meanings of a few Arabic words and defined others. For example, “nakba” means catastrophe, and refers to the establishment of the state of Israel and the exile of Christian and Muslim Palestinians in 1948, Darwish said.

Darwish and Fuleihan then showed different maps of Palestine and Israel that depicted an increasing occupation of Palestine by Israel throughout time. Fuleihan drew the distinction between the two. For the purposes of the presentation, Fuleihan said, when referring to Palestine one is referring to the land of historic Palestine; Israel is the state of Israel.

Noor Ali, assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs, recounted her story of being a high school student during the second intifada of the early 2000s.

“I was there for two years,” Ali said. “The first year, we often called it the year to ‘get to know your land’ because there were so many checkpoints. We got to learn about all of these different villages in the country.”

Ali said the second year she was there many called it the year to “get to know your neighbor,” because the area was under siege.

“The Israeli forces came in the West Bank and took over the land,” she said. “It’s the persistence and the resilience of the Palestinian people to look at the glass half full.”

There are many tools that are used to oppress the Palestinian people, Darwish said, including prison, exile, military occupation, weapons and assassinations. She said they are denied the right to work, because the many checkpoints, segregated roads and the Israel-Gaza barrier make it difficult for Palestinians to get to jobs.

Fuleihan also cited a lack of right to nationality for Palestinians.

“At its most basic level, you have absolutely no country, no status, no government protecting your rights,” she said.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Fuleihan said many ask why they discuss Israel.

“There are a lot of reasons,” she said, “but there are injustices all over the world, and we’re talking about Israel because as residents of the U.S. our country has a relationship with Israel and it’s important to know what those implications are.”

After the presentation, SPJ members Weinberg sophomore Ruba Assaf and Medill sophomore Zahra Haider spoke about a new student campaign, NU Divest. Assaf said the campaign is calling for the University to divest from six major corporations involved in the occupation of Palestinian land, including Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

“NU Divest is calling on Northwestern to remove its money from these six organizations,” she said. “To remain silent is to be complicit.”

Weinberg senior Imtisal Khokher, who helped plan the event, said they decided to hold the event because it is sometimes difficult to have a “clear picture” of the topic of Israel and Palestine.

“What you hear from the media and pro-Israel groups on campus can be very fractured,” Khokher told The Daily. “As a movement, we do not call for a political solution, because it doesn’t seem fair to speak for Palestinians because they’re the ones living in the land. We’re just saying we’re going to stand in solidarity with them.”

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