Posts Tagged ‘Palestine’

BDS comes to Penn

by Ahmed Moor

The past few years have seen the BDS movement electrify campus activism – a bright spot on the landscape of Palestine advocacy. The movement has enabled students around the country to engage constructively with the big moral question of our era – apartheid in Palestine. Thanks to BDS, thousand-mile expanses no longer stand in the way of direct non-violent action.

Still, the movement has some way to go before it can boast the levels of support that the South African call once enjoyed. That’s part of the reason that students at the University of Pennsylvania are organizing an on-campus BDS conference there. The two-day event will take place on the weekend of February 4th and 5th and will examine ways to strengthen campus-based activism.

As you can imagine Zionist groups have reacted badly to the news. The Jewish Exponent picked up the story, while the Israeli Foreign Ministry-affiliated Stand With Us organization has already posted a smear targeting Penn BDS on its website (see here and here for Ali Abunimah’s and Alex Kane’s posts about SWU’s fabricated quotes). Other groups have also contacted university officials in an attempt to abort the conference and silence dissenting voices.

The University – my alma mater – has been clear in its unequivocal support of Israel, but it has also emphasized its commitment to free speech. So while no moves have been made to block the conference the administration hasn’t been supportive either.

Read the rest of this entry →



01 2012

Intro to Genocide

UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day- Jan. 27th 2011
The UN Resolution was created: “to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide”

What is Genocide? Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term genocide from the root words genos (greek for family, tribe or race) and –cide (Latin for killing), wrote in 1944:

“While society sought protection against individual crimes, or rather crimes directed against individuals, there has been no serious endeavor hitherto to prevent and punish the murder and destruction of millions. Apparently, there was not even an adequate name for such a phenomenon. Referring to the Nazi butchery in the present war, Winston Churchill said in his broadcast of August, 1941, “We are in the presence of a crime without a name.”

Lemkin’s work led to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as
…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Read the rest of this entry →



01 2011


I recently had the opportunity to visit one of the most spiritual, mysterious and exotic places in the world: Jerusalem. Its name conjures up images of enchanted tales and rich history and tradition. “Islam’s second holiest site” is the pseudonym it typically goes by in Islamic circles. Serving as the cornerstone and holiest city for the Abrahamic faiths, even images of the landscape evoke deep religious sentiments amongst the people of the book. It goes without saying, then, that I was intrigued and excited by the prospect of exploring its ancient corridors during a recent business trip to the West Bank.

The old city of Jerusalem consists of 4 quarters: the Christian, the Jewish, the Muslim and the Armenian. A taxi dropped my colleagues and I off at the old city at the mouth of “Jaffa Gate”, the entrance to the Christian and Armenian quarters. We began our journey by first entering the Armenian quarter which was very reminiscent of the old city streets in Western Europe with its very clean, charming and narrow streets. We found ourselves engulfed by a wave of Italian and Indian tourist groups enroute to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where we unexpectedly ended up. The courtyard of the Holy Sepulcher was just as I had imagined it: cobblestoned, quaint and inviting. Incredibly, I was able to waltz right in. In fact, I could reach my arm out and touch the encasing of the shroud believed to have once wrapped the body of Jesus. And even more incredible, I could visit the very tomb housed within the church, which, according to Christian tradition, is where Jesus rose and ascended to heaven. I looked around, puzzled; there was no security and everyone was welcome in. I closed my eyes, said a prayer in front of the tomb and felt at peace in my surroundings. Soon after, the mobs of religious worshippers started to gain momentum. After finally fighting our way through the sea of Spanish, Indian and Nigerian pilgrims we found the exit and pushed onward towards the path leading to the Jewish quarters. Read the rest of this entry →



12 2010

Anti-Semitism is a Scrambled Egg

…except not as tasty…at least not when you are the one getting scrambled.

I am involved with Students for Justice in Palestine at DePaul University which has been getting some press recently due to our campaign against the not-so-tasty Sabra Hummus sold in our school dining quarters[1]. The boycott campaign started because “[t]he Strauss Group [a parent company of Sabra] maintains a direct material relationship with the Israeli military, particularly providing two elite Israeli brigades with financial support and care packages”[2] (see more in our Public Statement in the footnote). At the moment the Fair Business Practices Committee is analyzing DePaul’s relationship with Sabra and deciding whether or not it is in line with DePaul University’s stated values. So, what does this have to do with anti-Semitism?

As should be expected, our friends at Hillel objected to the campaign, especially because DePaul’s dining services temporarily removed the hummus from shelves[3]. That is all fine and dandy, they are entitled to their opinion and their own political activism (at least they care about something…right?…eh, maybe not). They decided to plug their statement to the university and to the Fair Business Practices Committee. It included this:

“However, by improperly restating the parameters of this conflict to one of human rights it puts SJP into a position to allow its agenda to influence the environment on the DePaul campus to the point where it successfully secured the school’s Dining Services to remove Sabra hummus. It is this environment that bodes ominously for our school’s future for Jewish students and genuine dialogue between Jews and Muslims.”[4]

Read the rest of this entry →



12 2010