Friday, December 14, 2007

500 attend Campus Palestine event:

"Palestinians are living 'without power, food and water' "

"Pro-palestinian group at Case hosts 1st event"

Posted on December 6, 2007

Full article, with photos, is on the Web at:

Brief excerpts:

"Just before the Thanksgiving break, about 500 people gathered at Case Western Reserve University to hear speakers discuss human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza.

"Two Arab-American hip-hop bands, The Philistines and The N.O.M.A.D.S., also entertained the crowd.

"The large turnout surprised even Rami Mikati and Zeyad Schwen, 20-year-old Case students who organized the event. It was the first big gathering hosted by the recently founded Case chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The duo started the group last spring to combat what they call media bias against Palestinians and to increase awareness of what they describe as the humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza.

"Among the speakers were journalist Alison Weir and author Anna Baltzer, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, and the author of Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories.

"The Case juniors, both Muslims, launched the organization so students could have 'an alternate source of accurate information regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Palestinian politics, and the Palestinian humanitarian crisis,' says Mikati, the group’s president. 'We’re not advocating violence. I hope to see peace in my lifetime.'

"Palestinians are living 'without power, food and water,' says Schwen, a varsity soccer player and class of 2009 president. 'The economy (in West Bank and Gaza) is practically gone. (Palestinians) need medical treatment. Before we can move on to more complex issues, how to find a peaceful solution to this, we have to first recognize the most urgent thing they need now.'

"SJP began with only 15 members, but now 85 students have asked to be on the mailing list, adds Mikati, a Lebanese-American from Kent. Students who are Arab, Palestinian or Muslim make up about half the membership. The remainder is 'just American kids,' Mikati says. An Israeli student is very active, as are other Jews.

" 'Our goal is not to just preach to the choir,' adds Mikati, an economics major...."