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Turf wars: Israeli-minded student groups dedicate week to Israel with different angles

By Jon Ostrowsky

Section: Features

November 5, 2010

Professor Noam Chomsky will speak on campus next Thursday as part of Israel Occupation Awareness Week, a series of events planned by Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine (BSJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) to advocate for the rights of Palestinians suffering under the occupation, Lev Hirschorn ’11, coordinator of Jewish Voice for Peace wrote in a statement.

Chomsky will speak about his new book, “Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel’s War Against the Palestinians” following two film screenings, “To Shoot an Elephant” and “East Side Story.”

The Occupation Awareness events are taking place the same week as Israel Peace Week, a week sponsored by BZA. The organization is tableling in Usdan Tuesday and Friday afternoon, serving free food and presenting facts about Israel, according to their Facebook page.

Steve Feldman ‘12, a member of the BZA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this article last night.

“A lot of people know that there is an occupation, [but] they don’t realize the way that the military occupation of the West Bank has impacted Palestinians negatively,” Hirschorn said in an interview with The Hoot.

On Tuesday, Palestinian farmer Daoud Nassar will explain why he opposes increasing numbers of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Following Nassar’s lecture, Alice Rothchild, a member of American Jews for a Just Peace, will explain her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

American Jews for a Just Peace is a Boston-founded group composed of different organizations, and activists promoting equal rights for Palestinians, according to its web site.

Diana Buttu, who has negotiated for the Palestine Liberation Organization will address the legal aspects of the occupation on Wednesday, according to the statement.

Hirschorn is working to organize next week’s event along with Liza Behrendt ’11 from JVP and Noam Shuster for BSJP.

He explained that both groups share the politics of opposing the occupation and unjust treatment of Palestinian civilians, but the main difference is that JVP is a Jewish-affiliated organization.

“I don’t believe that the Netanyahu government is committed to peace because their actions show that they’re not,” Hirschorn said.

Hirschorn explained that he does not see the opportunity for much progress over the next six months, considering the discrimination that is taking place.

“I do see increasing racism towards Palestinians in Israel,” Hirschorn said.

Both BSJP and the Brandeis Zionist Alliance (BZA) have brought controversial Holocaust survivors to speak about Israel on campus during the past few weeks. BJSP organized an event where Hedy Epstein spoke on Oct. 21. On Thursday, BZA brought Holocaust survivor Irving Roth to speak to the Brandeis community.

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