[News] Birzeit students hold solidarity event with Black struggle in US

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 18 12:38:59 EST 2014

*Birzeit students hold solidarity event with Black struggle in US*
Published 12/18/2014
*By Alex Shams 

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Nearly 100 students at Birzeit University in the 
central West Bank on Wednesday took part in a solidarity event with the 
African-American community in the United States in the wake of spiraling 
rates of deadly police violence there.

Entitled, "Similar Struggles: Racism in Palestine and Abroad," the event 
was organized by the Right to Education Campaign at the university and 
featured lectures from professors as well as a number of students who 
recently returned from a tour of the United States where they visited 
Ferguson, Missouri -- the site of months of protest against police 
violence -- and met with community organizers across the nation.

Organizers said the activity was one of the"most successful" events 
organized by the campaign, highlighting how the topic spoke directly to 
the experiences of Palestinian students.

"Following the uprisings of Black communities across the US, a lot of us 
here in Palestine began to see the similarities between these 
communities’ oppression by the militarized state and our own oppression 
as Palestinians under Israeli colonialism," organizer Deema al-Saafin 
told Ma'an in an emailed statement.

She said that the event was part of an effort to "create and sustain 
solidarity with other struggles," adding: "We aimed to emphasize that 
change begins with liberating the mind first, and to build solidarity we 
need to actively resist derogatory terminology and stereotypes between 
each other and the way we address other people of color."

She said the event featured three professors, Ahmad Abu Awad, Rana 
Barakat, and Hanada Kharama, who addressed racism as an ideology, the 
institutionalization of racism, and how racism becomes embedded in 
linguistics, respectively.

In addition, students who took part in the recent Right to Education 
tour shared their experiences meeting with activists from communities of 
color in the United States and "how deeply connected our struggles are 
against the same systems of oppression," al-Saafin said.

Another organizer, Reema Asia, stressed that the event was important for 
educating students about struggles faced by their peers abroad: "Through 
the discussion that took place, the students at the university will have 
a better understanding of the situation of Black communities not just in 
America, but around the world. You simply cannot be an ally to a people 
without having an idea of what it is they are fighting against."

Al-Saafin told Ma'an that the event was part of the larger effort of 
building solidarity through knowledge, and that the Right to Education 
campaign hoped it would help bolster their work to create linkages 
between the struggles faced by Palestinians and other marginalized 
communities around the world.

"We hope that this event and those in the future will emphasize the fact 
that as Palestinians and as students, we have to actively fight 
injustice everywhere ... Our liberation is simply incomplete without the 
liberation of all oppressed peoples," she said.--
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