Saturday, March 14, 2009

University of Southern California:

After Palestine Funeral Procession, Students Present Demands to USC President.

Photo by Nathaniel Gonzalez | Daily Trojan

"March forth · Alex Shams, co-president of Students for Justice in Palestine, and other members of the organization participated in a mock funeral procession Wednesday afternoon on Trousdale Parkway. Some members held cardboard coffins to raise awareness for Palestinian rights."


"Pro-Palestinian students present demands to USC:

"Group says if USC doesn’t respond to its letter within two weeks, it will protest again"

March 5, 2009

Published in the DAILY TROJAN
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California)

On the Web at:

Students carrying Palestinian flags, drums and boxes painted to look like coffins staged a mock funeral procession on Trousdale Parkway Wednesday in an attempt to raise awareness for Palestinian rights.

After the demonstration, which ended in front of Bovard Auditorium, members of USC Students for Justice in Palestine delivered a letter to USC President Steven B. Sample requesting increased university support of Palestinian affairs and education.

“We think it’s awesome that President Sample recognizes Israeli academics’ right to freedom,” said USC-SJP Co-President Alex Shams, a junior majoring in international relations. “We are simply asking for equal treatment for all groups — for everyone.”

The letter asked President Sample — who called a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in 2007 “counterproductive … to academic values” — to declare support for Palestinian academic freedom, to create an annual scholarship for 10 Palestinian students and to donate supplies to Palestinian schools destroyed in the Gaza Strip conflict.

The Palestinian scholarship would require USC to recognize the Palestinian territories as a place of national origin, which they currently do not, Shams said.

USC administrators could not be reached for comment.

These requests come in the wake of decisions from King’s College London, the University of Glasgow and Manchester University to create scholarships for students of Palestinian origin.

“These demands make a lot of sense,” said USC English professor David Lloyd. “They are very much in sync in what’s being demanded around the country and around the world.”

Lloyd, who is on a leave of absence as part of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, said demands for Palestinian equality are not out of line.

“The purpose of this protest was not to make the issue anti-this or anti-that, but to have a positive statement to help Palestinians gain what they have recently lost,” Lloyd said. “Even if you agree or disagree with one side, it’s hard to deny that everyone deserves a measure of academic freedom.”

Shams said USC-SJP plans to wait two weeks for President Sample’s response. Should he deny the requests, USC-SJP will submit a petition with student and staff signatures demanding that he take action.

“And if President Sample doesn’t respond, we’ll stage another event in two weeks,” Shams said. “We are trying as best we can to bring to light the prejudices in this situation...”


The next day...

"Sound and fury"

March 6, 2009

Published in the DAILY TROJAN at:

"These SJP/Hillel shouting matches are getting ridiculous. What everyone seems to lose sight of is that Jews and Israelis do not equal the Israeli military, and that Palestine does not equal Hamas. I would be very surprised if members of SJP actually supported the killing of innocent Israelis by Hamas rockets, or if USC Hillel condoned the blockage of humanitarian aid to dying Palestinians. Clearly, the enemies here are the Israeli military and Hamas militants. And I doubt those two groups will ever be affected by what USC students say or do, so why are we yelling at each other as if we are the ones to blame? I believe we all want the same thing: a de-escalation of violence on both sides.

"Regardless, Hillel should be more sympathetic toward the plight of SJP and Palestine. The conflict is so blatantly one-sided.

"Imagine if, in 2020, Americans who had been slowly trickling into Canada routed the Canadians and forced them all to live in Saskatchewan. Then when a few gutsy Canadians fought back, the Americanadians declared Saskatchewan a terrorist-supporting entity, blockaded it and bombed its schools.
All with the support of the U.S. military.

"The Israel/Palestine conflict is like being in a boxing match with Muhammad Ali, but you’re blindfolded. Come on guys, a little sympathy for the underdog?"

Jacob Jensen
Senior, electrical engineering