It started with me discovering this piece by one Amena Elashkar, lamenting the fact her fellow Israel haters at Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) object to her consorting with a known antisemite or stating that Israel has no right to exist.
Oh, the inhumanity!
Then, when 85-year-old Mariam Fathalla and I came last year to speak throughout the US and Canada about the views of our community in Lebanon, I suddenly met lots of Jews, and a few Israelis, as well. In fact, it was often Jewish Voice for Peace groups that invited us or were among the co-sponsors of our events, as part of the North America Nakba Tour. This year I am touring with 84-year-old Khawla Hammad. Mariam and Khawla are both survivors of the 1948 Nakba (Palestinian genocide). We are all stateless, without any form of citizenship.
We were also invited by a roughly equal number of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) groups on many campuses. Everywhere we went, our presentation was enthusiastically received and our message welcomed. We were so pleased that it was such a success, and we made so many friends and allies (even a border officer we met re-entering the US from Canada last weekend).
But some refused to hear us, and we didn’t expect otherwise. The US is known for having some of the strongest Zionist groups and defenders of “Israel”, so we didn’t really expect to go unchallenged. That’s all right. They will spread their message and challenge ours, and we will do the same to them.
What surprised us, however, was that some of the groups calling themselves “Students for Justice in Palestine” would also challenge us. The first was at Stanford University last year, where they expressed a concern that Alison Weir had come with us to hear our talk, and where I was told that I should not say that “Israel” has no right to exist (which is not part of our presentation, but which is a view held by millions of Palestinians).
This earned us a reputation as “anti-Semites” in some circles, despite the fact that no one has shown anything anti-Semitic in any of our presentations. Some groups also object to statements made by some of the people in our organizing committee, composed of Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition, the International Solidarity Movement – Northern California and the Free Palestine Movement. But no one has produced any anti-Semitic statements from any of these groups, either. Most recently, we were informed by the SJP group at George Washington University in Washington, DC that our October 19 talk would be cancelled because we were “anti-Semitic”.
Of course, we expect such talk from our Zionist enemies, and we give it little importance. But to hear it from a group that claims to be standing for justice in Palestine? Do these groups really expect to have any credibility among Palestinians when they do this?
We have heard from some of them (including Stanford) that they are under tremendous pressure, and we don’t doubt that this is true. But why isn’t their first priority to defend and promote the voices of Palestinians speaking for themselves? Why don’t they stand up to whatever pressure is being placed upon them, even if they lose allies and are not recognized as a campus group? Do they think they are pursuing justice by allowing themselves to be intimidated? Don’t they care for their integrity?
Of course, we realize that many of these groups actually have plenty of integrity. In fact, last year, immediately after the terrible experience at Stanford, SJP-Pitzer welcomed us with open arms. The same is true of 72 other groups that sponsored or co-sponsored us last year, including other SJP and JVP chapters. What we’re saying is that it’s a disgrace for a group calling itself “Students for Justice in Palestine” to cancel one of our events or to allow itself to be pressured by groups or individuals that clearly do not stand for justice in Palestine and who have appointed themselves gatekeepers of what Palestinians may or may not say about their own genocide or anything else.
As a Palestinian, I request such groups to stop using “Justice in Palestine” in their name. We Palestinians understand what justice does and does not mean, and we do not give you permission to use our name or the name of our country for your corrupted image of justice.
This led to me doing some Googling and discovering this video of her making the same complaints back in April 2016. Only she gives away a lot more in this video – such as the reason SJP objects to the antisemitism and genocidal statements. Clue: not because such things are wrong or evil.
Meanwhile, this genocidal lunatic and apologist for antisemites is currently speaking in the US on a Nakba tour.