Amid BC Buildings, Eight-Foot Walls Aim to Raise Awareness on Conflict

palestine

Eight-foot tall walls, reading “free Palestine” and “peace, not apartheid” tower over passers-by on Stokes Lawn. The walls were put up by Boston College Students for Justice in Palestine (BC SJP), a group attempting to raise awareness of the Palestine-Israel conflict through “Peace, Not Apartheid Week.”

The week, which is held at universities worldwide, encourages students to think beyond biased media about the conflict, which often carries a negative stigma, Kaitlin Astrella, treasurer of BC SJP and MCAS ’16, said. The conflict has been ongoing for over five decades and revolves around issues including mutual recognition, border control, water security, and control of Jerusalem.

The group is holding events from April 4 through 8 to educate students, and encourages them to do their own research on the conflict.

“We are really just trying to start a dialogue on campus,” Katie Mears, BC SJP board member and LSOE ’16, said. “The conflict goes in and out of the news and we find that students don’t really know much about it.”

On Monday, BC SJP held a student panel on Palestine, which featured BC students who have travelled to the country and worked on peace initiatives within the region. The group also provided traditional Palestinian dishes for students in attendance.


“We are really just trying to start a dialogue on campus. The conflict goes in and out of the news and we find that students don’t really know much about it.”

—Katie Mears, BC SJP board member and LSOE ’16


BC SJP then held a screening of a movie titled The Wanted 18 on Wednesday night in Devlin 227. The documentary, which features stop-motion animation, tells the story of Palestinians’ efforts in Beit Sahour to kickstart the dairy industry. The movie tells about how the dairy collective was deemed as a threat to Israel’s national security.

“It’s a funny story,” Astrella said. “It takes these conflicts in a different direction than most documentaries. It’s kind of new and fresh so it’s cool to be able to show it.”

The group will hold its final event tonight in Campion 010. The event will feature Nathalie Handal, a creative writing professor at Columbia University who will speak about being Palestinian, working as a poet, and enduring love.

SJP began holding Palestine Awareness Week in 2012 when the president of the club wrote his thesis about the Palestine-Israel conflict. The club was unable to hold the awareness week last year, however, because of a lack of funding.

The group has been organizing the event since the beginning of the academic year, trying to recruit speakers and publicize its efforts. The group also went through the Office of Student Involvement to gain approval to build the walls on Stokes Lawn.

Schools including Columbia, University of California, Berkeley, and Edinburgh University are holding awareness weeks similar to BC SJP’s.

“If you go to a big school like Boston College, it is helpful to speak about these issues because you have a certain credibility,” Astrella said. “Educating people about things like this at a well-known university gives the fight to end the conflict some credence.”

BC SJP will hold one more event before the school year is over on April 21. Remi Kanazi, a spoken word poet and Palestinian-American, will visit BC to perform at BC SJP’s event.

“I think part of being men and women for others is being aware of how your actions have an effect on others,” Mears said.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

About Taylor St. Germain 83 Articles
Taylor was the managing editor for The Heights, as well as a news alum. She is from Los Angeles, CA, but defies stereotypes by not surfing, rooting for the Rams, or tanning easily. You can follow her on Twitter @taysaintg.

6 Comments

  1. Grave human rights violations against religious and ethnic minorities have become increasingly commonplace in the Muslim world. Not only Jews are targeted, but, as the world has seen, Christians, Hindus, Baha’i, Alevis, Shi’as, Sunnis — and anyone who does not conform to some self-appointed person’s vision of Islam. Muslims are burned alive, Christians’ heads are cut off on a beach, a Christian couple in Pakistan is thrown alive onto a burning kiln, churches and Bibles are not allowed in Saudi Arabia, and there are sign-posted roads and turn-offs for anyone not Muslim. It is hard to get more “apartheid” than that.

    Meanwhile, as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists are busy bashing Israel, Yezidi children and women are raped by Islamic State (IS) terrorists, Iranian Kurds under torture are awaiting their executions, and Christians are sold into slavery or beheaded. Being persecuted has become an integral part of the daily lives of Christians all around the Muslim world. Yet where, from the groups that are always quick to condemn Israel, are the rallies, marches, flotillas or boycotts against these regimes and terrorists?

  2. Okay, let’s “have a dialogue:”

    1) Does BC SJP recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in the Jewish homeland alongside an Arab/Muslim state of Palestine?

    2) Does BC SJP endorse the “two state solution?”

    3) Will BC SJP condemn Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians and renounce violence as a means of change both in the USA and elsewhere?

    4) Some SJP’s chant “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free” and “long live the Intifada.” Will BC SJP condemn these statements?

    5) Will BC SJP condemn Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian terror groups who seek to create a theocratic state over the bodies of Israeli civilians?

    6) Will BC SJP acknowledge that Jews have just as much human right as Muslims and Arabs?

  3. BDS Undermines the Very Values of American Universities

    FEBRUARY 11, 2016 7:49 AM 6 COMMENTS

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    Alexandra Markus

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    Israeli Apartheid Week, which takes place on campuses across the world. Photo: wiki.

    Israeli Apartheid Week, which takes place on campuses across the world. Photo: wiki.

    The BDS movement is thriving on many college campuses. Here are some of the reasons this policy actually violates the principles these colleges claim to promote:

    BDS burns bridges instead of building them.

    Instead of promoting coexistence, the BDS movement creates a rift by silencing Israelis across the political spectrum — even Israelis who oppose Israel’s policies. By isolating Israel from the international arena, BDS discourages any efforts or momentum for coexistence by effectively demonizing one side, making negotiation and finding common ground impossible. Shutting down dialogue moves us further away from peace.

    BDS incites and propagates a never-ending cycle of violence.

    During the current intifada in Israel, Palestinian terrorists hunt for random Jews to stab almost every day, killing more than 30 and injuring hundreds in just the past four months. This intifada of random murder in the streets is excused and supported by pro-Palestinian groups, such as JVP and SJP, who call it “resistance,” and “justified.” The murderers are often teenagers influenced by incitement propaganda taught in schools and promoted in the media, and directed at Palestinian youth. BDS bolsters this intifada movement, teaching Palestinians that violence is an effective means to get the world on your side.

    BDS exacerbates corruption, to the detriment of Palestinians.

    The leaders of the Palestinian Authority are not interested in peace. They have frequently declined negotiations with Israel and even turned down several generous two-state offers, including one that offered them Jerusalem. Hamas, Fatah, and other Palestinian leadership groups profit from the conflict, collecting billions in foreign aid — enriching themselves while keeping the Palestinian people in poverty, using them as pawns to perpetuate this profitable cycle. Palestinians are the only multigenerational refugees in the world, considered refugees even if they get citizenship elsewhere, and it seems that their leaders are interested in keeping them that way. It’s yet another weapon to use against Israel.

    BDS is a violation of indigenous rights.

    The Martinez-Cobo definition of indigenous supported by the UN, defines indigenous status as referring to the land where the genesis of a culture — which includes a common language, history, religion, tradition, and legal system — occurred. According to this definition, Jews are indigenous to the land of Israel, and Arabs (“Palestinians”) are indigenous to the Hejaz Peninsula, which includes Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

    BDS is bad for the Palestinian economy.

    The factories located in the disputed territories that are boycotted by BDS employ Palestinian workers who are paid several times more than local Palestinian wages. BDS hurts Palestinians the most, exacerbating the economic situation in these territories.

    BDS is based on an inaccurate historical narrative.

    The three points highlighted by ApartheidDivest are not only based on false premises, they are historically inaccurate. First of all, Ehud Olmert already made the same two-state solution ApartheidDivest desire in 2008, but the Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas rejected it. They also claim the problem is settlements and Israeli control of Jerusalem. But the Arabs fought the Jews before the Jews had Jerusalem (1967), before the “Occupation” (1967), before the “Settlements” (1968), and before the Security Wall (built in 2007), making these three grievances red herrings.

    Second, Israeli Jews and Arabs are already legally equal, with one exception: Arabs do not have to serve in the military — giving them a two to three-year head start at life. Although in practice, systematic inequality does exist, Israel does its best to address these inequalities, while the Palestinian Authority has insisted on ethnically cleansing its land of Jews, making renting and selling land to Jews punishable by death. Third, extending the right of return to Arabs would result in Arabs outnumbering Jews. As such, Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state and safe haven for the Jewish people, a status it has been granted by law.

    BDS violates New York Law if any organization is tied to New York State.

    The State of New York recognizes the serious problems inherent in BDS, and as a result, has made it illegal. As a result, any efforts to divest from Israel in the State of New York are classified under discrimination on the basis of national origin, and therefore have no leg to stand on, making ApartheidDivest’s campaign an exercise in futility.

    BDS distorts international law.

    Israel strictly adheres to international law. Click here for more detailed information.

    BDS is racist.

    BDS is antisemitic, as per the State Department’s definition, for holding the world’s only Jewish nation to a double standard and constantly singling it out. Their professed love for Palestinians is selective, emerging only when it can be used to bash Israel. They go silent when Palestinians are murdered en masse in Syria.

    BDS creates an unsafe space.

    Many universities pride themselves on a diverse student body. Jewish and Israeli students have historically formed an important part of this diversity. Supporters of the BDS movement have interrupted the free flow of ideas by shouting down Israeli and Jewish speakers, occasionally even harming them physically. The rise of this antisemitic movement makes Jewish students feel threatened on campus, and erodes any semblance of a safe space.

    As seen above, BDS, a movement founded by Omar Barghouti who is, hypocritically, studying for his PhD at an Israeli University, only does harm to both Israelis and Palestinians, and has no tangible benefits. BDS hurts the Palestinian economy, promotes violence rather than empowerment, and upholds a corrupt regime that only perpetuates the suffering of the Palestinian people for political gain. BDS clearly opposes negotiation, the most reasonable road to peace, and shuts down discourse that contributes to scientific and artistic progress.

    The BDS movement runs counter to American values of plurality, safety and academic freedom.

  4. Students for Justice in Palestine: ‘Hating Israel Is Necessary for Our Health’

    DECEMBER 16, 2015 6:47 AM 18 COMMENTS

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    Elder of Ziyon

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    A Justice for Palestine sign plastered on the UCLA campus. SJP was outraged by the image. Photo: Twitter.

    A Justice for Palestine sign plastered on the UCLA campus. Photo: Twitter.

    The College Fix reports:

    UCLA – ground zero for vehement debates between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students – saw its student government recently pass a new bylaw which ostensibly prohibits it from taking a side in controversial global-political issues such as the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The new bylaw restricts the current Undergraduate Students Association Council to only weighing and voting on “matters directly and substantially pertaining to student welfare issues,” defined as “issues pertaining to student (health), resources, education, safety.”

    The student government adopted the resolution by a 9-4 vote on Nov. 17 after a lengthy debate, with some students who supported it saying they were elected to fight for students’ immediate concerns, not get bogged down by divisive global issues.

    “USAC is not the United Nations and you weren’t elected to take stances on geopolitical issues that experts can’t solve,” said a student prior to the vote.

    It is reasonable to say that the student government should concern itself with things happening on campus and not opine on every issue worldwide. But, of course, many students were offended by this idea, including, of course, Israel-haters.

    Members of Students for Justice in Palestine came up with a new reason to oppose this bylaw: not being allowed to spout anti-Israel rhetoric at student government events affects their “wellness.” From the minutes of the meeting.

    Arnie is the vice president for Students for Justice in Palestine and an Armenian student on campus. “I am here to call you all out on petty bullshit as a clear attempt to undue [sic] the resolution from last year. First you all want to do resolutions that have to do with wellness. For some students that has to do with wellness, who are you to tell them what is their wellness.”

    Annie is Arnie’s sister is here on behalf of Armenian Student Association and JSP [sic] and behalf for humans in general. “…You are in a place of privilege and we don’t have the power and this resolution is just really frustrating that we have to constantly reaffirm and what student wellness affects us. If we tell you something is our student wellness you have to believe us you cant [sic] pick and choose. I strongly urge all of you to think about the 28,000 students you represent and think of a different understanding of student wellness.”

    You cannot parody these idiots; they do such a nice job by themselves.

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