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Members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee held talks, panels, and film screenings throughout last week to raise awareness regarding Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as part of Israeli Apartheid Week.
PSC Co-Vice President Christian B. Tabash ’21 said the week—a national movement among college campuses in the United States—seeks to draw attention to the current state of the Palestinian people. Tabash particularly emphasized the event was meant to highlight what he called the discrimination toward and oppression ofPalestinians.
Harvard’s Israeli Apartheid Week focused on intersectionality, according to Tabash. Events included a panel discussion with the Harvard Black Students Association, a social art event that forms part of an ongoing project about sexual harassment and assault, and a screening of a documentary about Palestinian journalists fighting to maintain a free press.
In addition, a wall stood in the Science Center Plaza through Thursday to draw to attention to the Palestinian cause, as well as to other human rights issues across the world.
The week began with an introductory event that reviewed the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Speakers cited Israel’s 1948 expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and said the conflict is largely territorial, not religious.
Speakers also said Palestinians are forced to carry identification at all times, subjected to “discriminatory” laws, and that Palestinians face high imprisonment rates.
On Tuesday, the PSC and the Black Students Association co-hosted an event entitled “Black Palestinian Solidarity.” Divinity School and African and African American Studies professor and renowned social activist Cornel R. West ’74 spoke about the treatment of Palestinians.
“I concluded a long time ago that the Israeli occupation is not just illegal and immoral, but it’s evil. And like Apartheid it’s a crime against humanity, and it needs to be said clearly,” West said.
Carl Williams, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who spoke on the same panel, argued the struggle for freedom links all subjugated peoples across the world.
“We can be free, we will be free, and it’s never going to happen if just Palestinian people are free, and it’s never going to happen if just black people are free,” Williams said, “Because it really is one struggle.”
On Wednesday, the PSC hosted the “Not Your Habibti” Project, an ongoing socially engaged art project founded by Palestinian-American Yasmeen Mjalli.
For the last six months, Mjalli has collected stories from Arabic women in Palestine and Italy about their experiences with street harassment and other forms of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Mjalli compiled the anonymous stories together into one physical exhibition. The project is motivated by two central goals, according to Mjalli: to make a statement by breaking the taboo of sharing stories of sexual harassment and to help women heal from these traumas.
In particular, Mjalli said she wants to encourage women to speak up to help themselves move forward.
Mjalli’s stop at Harvard for Israeli Apartheid Week forms part of her U.S. tour, which she said she now hopes will shed light on how Greek life and campus assault uniquely impact young women in the United States.
During the session, each of the Harvard women who attended the event shared a story.
“If you took a pile of these letters from both Italy and Palestine and I asked you to pin them up on a map, you wouldn’t be able to,” Mjalli said. “These stories [of sexual harassment and assault] are totally universal.”
“It wasn’t until I got to the U.S. that some of the letters were distinct,” Mjalli said.
Students also hosted a talk led by two Palestinian women living in the West Bank, as well as two movie screenings. Thursday’s film screening featured the movie “Five Broken Cameras,” which included recovered footage from five of Palestinian Emad Brunat’s cameras broken by the Israeli Defense Forces while Brunat was documenting life and struggles in Palestine.
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