October 17, 2011
Pro-Palestinian student group holds first national conference
A loosely knit collection of student pro-Palestinian chapters gathered for its first national conference.
The three-day conference at Columbia University ended Oct. 16. Titled “Students Confronting Apartheid,” the conference was restricted to members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), one of the more active pro-Palestinian campus groups.
“SJPs have decided to form their own national body to make sure students are at the forefront of deciding what the student movement is pursuing and how it pursues it rather than off-campus organizations,” Yaman Salahi, a student at Yale Law School and a member of the ad hoc national committee that organized the event, told the Forward.
The media were not allowed to cover the event.
According to the conference Web site, the event focused on developing coordination between student groups supporting the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign and building skill sets for activists. Workshops included “Media Training,” ‘’Combating the Myths of Zionism” and “Dismantling Privilege in Palestine Organizing.”
The SJP was founded in 2001 at the University of California, Berkeley, and has spread to 75 campus chapters. In a report released this month on anti-Israel campus trends, the Anti-Defamation League called SJP “the primary organizer of anti-Israel events on campus.”
It is one of the largest proponents of the BDS campaign on campuses but thus far has met with limited success. Nonetheless, critics voiced concern that an organized SJP might be more troubling, according to the Forward.
On Oct. 16, Arutz Sheva reported that pro-Israel activists from several organizations picketed the event and that one protester was arrested after allegedly kicking a student.