The Arizona State University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine is holding its annual Israeli-Apartheid Week this week, which includes a one-day display of a mock “apartheid wall” (as SJP terms Israel’s security barrier) on ASU’s Tempe campus.
The week kicked off Feb. 16 with a presentation by Jeff Halper, founder of Israeli Coalitions Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD), on the topic “Where is Israel/Palestine Headed? Towards a One State Solution.”
Halper, who recently visited 12 Canadian cities on a month-long speaking tour, is originally from Minnesota and moved to Israel in 1973 after attending rabbinical school and resisting military service in the Vietnam War, according to his organization’s website, icahdusa.org. As coordinating director of ICAHD, he has organized and led nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience against "Israel’s occupation policies and authorities."
His organization is “an Israeli peace and human rights organization that is dedicated to ending the occupation, which used to be a code word for a two-state solution,” he told the approximately 25 people at the program. (A video of the talk was posted on YouTube.)
“The two-state solution, in my view, is gone,” he told the group. “But then the question is, then what?”
He mentioned major systems of injustice in the world, such as apartheid in South Africa, and the rule of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. “These were very strong forces, they were strong governments with armies and the people were very intimidated and then ... one day they’re gone.”
He said that the Palestinian Authority isn’t a sustainable enterprise and that its eventual collapse “opens all kinds of new possibilities.” He said that when the next generation of Palestinians emerges, they may not remember the PLO, Yasser Arafat and intifadas and will instead wonder why they don’t have the same rights as others. “There will be an organic kind of civil rights movement that will emerge and maybe it’s up to the next generation to begin to resolve this.” He also called Israel “an apartheid regime that is able to sell itself as a democracy.”
That same evening, Students Supporting Israel (formerly Sun Devils for Israel) hosted Jakob Khazanovich, a student liaison for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, who ran a lobbying training for 12 students. According to Hillel Executive Director Debbie Yunker Kail, 10 ASU students plan to attend the AIPAC Policy Conference next month.
“Students never take a reactive approach, always seeking to be proactive in their efforts to educate the campus community and to be a positive force for peace and dialogue on campus,” Kail told Jewish News via email.
“To that end, Students Supporting Israel does not plan to engage with SJP and instead will have a table on campus educating the student body about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and encouraging students to look further into the conflict for themselves.”
At press time, SSI planned to hold a social event this week to bring the pro-Israel community together and the group is also working on Israel Peace Week, scheduled for later this semester, that will advance the message of peace, Kail said.
“During this week and always, Hillel is a home base for Jewish students from all backgrounds to come together and learn more about Israeli history and Jewish culture,” she said. “We often find that we meet new students when anti-Israel activity flares up so it is all the more so important that we maintain our strong presence on campus.”
The “apartheid wall” is scheduled to be on display on Hayden Lawn today (Feb. 18). In previous years, the wall – intended to mimic the security barrier in Israel – included quotes, drawings, statistics and photographs to present the SJP cause. Other planned events are the Feb. 20 screening of the documentary “Roadmap to Apartheid” and, on Feb. 23, journalist Alison Weir, founder of “If Americans Knew” is scheduled to speak about “Israel, Palestine & the U.S.: The Context Behind the Headlines.”