SJP Conference 2011: Day 1 Highlights

Photo credit: Sara Jawhari

Although I was unable to attend the first day of the National SJP Conference due to unfortunate flight circumstances, I’ve been able to collect some thoughts and highlights about what the conference has so far had to offer.

Opening and Keynote Address

“Mamdani challenges the conventional comparison of Israel to South Africa. Israel, even from the start, proudly boasts itself as a Jewish state whereas South Africa hesitated to call itself a “white” state. One is more overtly racist, which makes unconditional support for Israel even more ridiculous.”

— Anonymous student

“Aside from the fact that it was a complete honor to hear Mahmood Mamdani, a man whose work I highly admire, open the conference as the keynote speaker, his speech was just as thought-provoking. Mamdani stated that while there are many parallels between South African Apartheid and Israel, there is one stark difference that many forget: Palestinians have not only lost their freedom and independence, as South Africans did, but they have also lost their country.”

— Sara Jawhari

Photo credit: Sara Jawhari

“The Opening and Keynote Address, particularly Mamdani’s speech, really helped me understand the true connection between Apartheid in Israel and Apartheid as it exists or existed in other parts of the world. It contextualized the forced separation of Palestinians in their native lands as something so sinister that has yet to be seen anywhere else. Mamdani and Kanaaneh, the other speaker, both helped progress my understanding of the situation there, and I am indebted to them for inspiring me to do more.”

— Mohammad Khalil

Occupy Wall Street

After the opening speeches, a large contingency of SJP members made its way to Wall Street to join the Occupy protests currently expanding all over the nation. Students engaged other activists and helped spread awareness about the Palestinian cause and how it, too, relates to the ultimate purpose of the Occupy Wall Street protest. Many students were also spotted sharing their opinions with police officers monitoring the protest site. With so much money being sent to the Israeli military to harden the rigid walls of siege and occupation, it is inspiring to see so many active students play a role in demanding a change to unjust policies in both a domestic and foreign sense.

Make sure to check out the Day 2 Highlights and Day 3 Highlights.

Sami Kishawi


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