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Last weekend, another group calling itself SJP — Students for Justice in Palestine — spent three days on the Stanford campus at a conference they said would “create space for a critical discussion on solidarity.”
We felt that this was an important goal and expected SJP members to stand with Palestinians who are in favor of peace with Israel. Such pro-peace Palestinians need all the help they can get, because the two Palestinian governments in power today refuse to accept the principle of “two states for two peoples.” In Gaza, Hamas rules with an iron fist and continues to prepare for war against Israel. In the West Bank, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ four-year term expired in 2009, but he has refused to hold new elections. And In both places, Palestinian security forces intimidate and jail dissidents who criticize their leaders.
We studied the SJP conference program. None of the Palestinian governments’ human rights violations were mentioned. Instead, the program was filled with euphemisms about the importance of destroying Israel, the most progressive state in the Middle East. Is this what it means to stand in solidarity with Palestine?
Elsewhere in the Middle East, oppressed peoples are in great need of support: Women who want to drive in Saudi Arabia, anti-theocratic bloggers in Iran, Christians in Egypt and even Palestinians fleeing the civil war in Syria. There is no mention of these cases in the SJP conference program.
Why does SJP only mobilize to promote reactionary forces? What will it take for SJP to show solidarity with progressive, pro-peace groups? Are anti-Israel extremists the only kinds of people who are worthy of SJP support?
We don’t get it. We are trying to figure it out. And until we do, we are Students Justifiably Perplexed.
Omri Rahmil is a fourth-year Political science Major.
Grant Fineman is a second-year at UC Berkeley.
Matt Lurie is a second-year at UC San Diego.