Georgetown University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine erected an artistic representation of the 400 mile wall in the West Bank on campus as part of its 15th annual Israeli Apartheid Week to raise awareness about the Israeli state policies against Palestinian citizens.
Israeli Apartheid Week, which began April 1, is an international campaign across college campuses that strives to raise public support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. This year’s theme is “Stop Arming Colonialism.” Over 200 cities worldwide participate in IAW, according to its website.
The Palestinian-led BDS movement encourages the boycott of and divestment from Israeli businesses, cultural and academic institutions, and sanctions on the Israeli government.
Georgetown’s SJP hosted events throughout the week to support the BDS movement and raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians in Israel, according to SJP.
“We hope students understand how Israel’s separation wall, occupation of the West Bank, and illegal settlements therein are a manifestation of apartheid,” SJP wrote in a statement to The Hoya. “These policies have divided families, expropriated land, and violated the civil liberties and human rights of Palestinians.”
Israel built a 400-mile wall intended to bolster security along the West Bank in 2002 during the Second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, after a series of attacks killed 130 Israelis, according to The New York Times. With the violence along the West Bank having declined, the wall violates international law and the rights of self-determination, according to a 2004 advisory opinion of the International Criminal Court.
Students gathered to create a mock wall of art Monday, April 1, and it has been displayed in the Intercultural Center Galleria throughout the week. The construction aimed to represent the Israel barrier in the West Bank, according to SJP president Ahmad Al-Husseini (NHS ’20).
SJP hosted Former Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Abdallah Al Dardari, on Tuesday, who spoke on the historical context of the Palestinian occupation and its impact on Syria, according to Al-Husseini.
“He came and spoke about the occupation in Golan Heights and the relationship between Syria and Palestine and the intrinsic special bond that is there,” Al-Husseini said.
The event follows President Trump’s recent official acknowledgment of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a region controlled by Syria until 1967. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, a move recognized by no other country until Trump’s announcement on March 21, according to The Washington Post. The United States is now the only state to officially recognize Israeli authority over this contested region.
SJP also held a panel Wednesday about the BDS movement, which featured speakers that included BDS leader Andrew Kadi and SJP activist Moath Elhady.
The international community has the responsibility to ensure the rights of Palestinians are protected, Kadi said at an event held by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in May 2018.
“To me, BDS is a movement that is more about the international community. It’s a solidarity movement in the sense that we’re the ones who are complicit,” Kadi said.
SJP hosted a charity dinner Thursday in McShain Lounge to raise money for Helping Hand for Relief and Development, an emergency and humanitarian aid organization, according to the HHRD website. At the dinner, students read poetry and celebrated Palestinian culture.
The events of the week show the power of student organizing and collective action, Sonya Fares (COL ’22), an attendee of the charity dinner, said.
“The topic is a highly contentious one that raises much debate, but I think any instance where students come together to share their perspective and spread their message is really great to see,” Fares said.
The philanthropic dinner was an opportunity to celebrate Palestinian culture, according to Munir Pavez (SFS ’20), co-president of Georgetown University Arab Society, who performed at the event.
“I’m glad SJP this year was able to hold a philanthropic event that focused on Palestinian culture, art, and solidarity,” Pavez wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I helped lead dabke, a traditional Levantine line dance that, for Palestinians, has symbolized cooperation, determination and love for their heritage.”
The IAW does not encourage dialogue and only tells one side of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the Georgetown Israel Alliance wrote in an April 2 statement on Facebook.
“We are disappointed that this week’s events discourage dialogue and reject the Jewish connection to Israel in favor of a divisive, one-sided narrative,” GIA wrote. “To further our goal of dialogue, we will be tabling this week in Red Square so that members of the Georgetown community can engage with us on their views.”
Some of the week’s events have led to misunderstandings of SJP’s mission, according to Tara Nouri (SFS ’22), an SJP board member.
“We’ve had a lot of great interactions over this past week and a lot of bad interactions where people have not quite understood what our mission is here,” Nouri said. “We are interested in the uplifting of the Palestinian people for their equal treatment in the occupied territories.”
To conclude IAW, SJP will host a screening of the documentary “The Lobby,” which is about the influence of the Israel lobby in U.S. politics, on Friday.
Last year during IAW, a Palestinian flag hung in Red Square on April 1 was removed by unknown individuals April 3 and April 6. SJP filed two bias incident reports with university administration.
GIA also reported five separate incidents regarding its Israeli flag, which was also hung in Red Square, during last year’s IAW. GIA filed bias reports with the administration after the Israeli flag was removed April 3, 4 and 6. The individual who removed the Israeli flag April 6 was apprehended by the Georgetown University Police Department.
This article was updated April 5 to correct the incidents of flag removal which occurred during IAW last year.