So I decided to travel to Ann Arbour Michigan to represent Students Against Israeli Apartheid, Toronto at Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP’s) National conference. SJP is a national organization of independent grassroots collectives which organize on Palestine issues, but as of now that’s about all I know. For me, this is a weekend to learn about SJP, learn about the state of the movement by connecting with activists from across the United States (and a few others from Canada as well!), and to have probing conversations on key issues which are preventing the movement from becoming properly mainstream.
Today we arrived late and missed the first session entirely. But it didn’t seem to matter – the second session on gender privilege and breakout groups workshop was pretty interesting, and besides what really matters was meeting people, having conversations over dinner. It’s an easy space in which to meet people because you already know that you share a passion for the Palestinian liberation struggle – here people care what you know, what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and they like it when you ask them what they think about hard questions.
From conversations I’ve had over the past few months, but emphasized by conversations tonight, I can’t help but feel that the lack of political mobilization from the arab and muslim communities on our campus is a major block preventing the movement from growing. Asking many about this question, the answers finally moved past “I don’t know” to a more sophisticated analysis of how children are raised, the difference between loving Palestine and being anti-Zionist (a difference which might be more pronounced in the Palestinian and Arab diasporas, and the general desire for the young generation to be detached from the weight of the Palestinian issue and the Arab cause. It makes me think it might be productive to run an event on the topic “Palestine Forgotten? Disillusionment and Disengagement in the Arab Diaspora”. This is just preliminary of course, tomorrow I’ll get the chance to speak with some big names in the academic/activist field, hopefully this will change/inform my ideas.
And I promise I will eventually get you that piece on Syria.