SJP Conference 2011: Day 2 Highlights

Photo credit: Sara Jawhari

The second day of the National SJP Conference feature was densely packed with interactive workshops and colloquiums designed to redefine campus activism for Palestine. The workshops were followed by an open plenary in which student delegates representing dozens of universities convened to establish national coordination for future campus movements and networks. The first round of workshops sought to provide fresh perspectives and understandings about the occupation of Palestine within new legal, political, and social frameworks. The small group meetings, primarily centered around political development and skill building, provoked thoughtful discussion on what exactly the occupation of Palestine means, what it entails, how it is perceived, and how its relates to other historical models of colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and oppression.

Photo credit: Sara Jawhari

The full program for the day’s set of workshops can be found at the National SJP website, but here is a brief report-back on some of the offered workshops:

The Economics of Israeli Colonialism

This workshop, headed by Dalit Baum, focused on the influence of Israel and other foreign actors on Palestine’s economy. Israel’s activity in the West Bank, particularly in so-called industrial zones, settlements, and businesses catering only to illegal settlement populations, has a profoundly negative effect on Palestine’s economy and its ability to fiscally sustain itself. It becomes clear that colonialism is not restricted to just the physical geography of occupied land. Denying Palestinians the ability to maintain authority over their own economy without sabotage from foreign state actors simply reinforces the very framework of occupation and oppression.

Gender and Resistance: The Politics of Women’s Activism

Facilitated by two student organizers, this workshop emphasized the oftentimes underrepresented role of women in overcoming the occupation of Palestine. The workshop drew connections between Palestinian women and women of other campaigns against oppression. The primary goal of the workshop was to promote gender equity by deconstructing the explicit patriarchy that exists in campaign building. It is important to address this issues to establish a resolute understanding that equality in all forms is required in this form of student solidarity organizing.

Movement Building Workshop

This intensive workshop gave students and delegates the opportunity to discuss issues concerning their own representative SJPs as well as their hopes for future collaboration, networking, and coalition efforts. Students gathered into medium-sized groups facilitated by other student leaders and proposed plans for the establishment of a formalized campus activism network. The participants also spent the time sharing campaign ideas between each other so as to improve the dynamic and function of their respective SJP chapters.

Photo credit: Sara Jawhari

Later in the evening, over 150 students convened for the open plenary to consolidate the ideas and concerns brought up during the Movement Building Workshop. I am restricted from providing details about the proposals and any subsequent decisions so I am forced to remain vague in my review of the plenary. However, I will say there is reason to expect an effective and concerted effort from students across the nation to formally overcome the establishments that keep the occupation afloat. The day ended with a concert featuring the Columbia Dabke Troupe, Chicago-based musician Khaled M, and a number of other performers sharing the stage in solidarity with oppressed people all over the world. Make sure to check out the Day 1 Highlights and Day 3 Highlights.

Sami Kishawi


There are 2 comments

  1. Mark Richie

    I’m not encouraged by the secrecy involved here. Let’s not kid ourselves that anything taking place here is secret from the zionist organizations and government spies. The secrecy only keeps plans for organizing–which can’t be secret from anyone, by definition-from the knowledge of genunely supportive people.

    But top-down hierarchical organizations of any type often make a fetish of secrecy in this way.

    1. Sami Kishawi

      There is no reason that SJP organizers should feel compelled to publicize the details of their future campaigns before putting them into effect. There is also no reason for SJP members to make public the inner workings of their private, preliminary steps. The results of this conference will be public in due time.

      I also don’t think it’s fair to assume this is a top-down hierarchical organization, especially since we feature a bottom-up construction led by students coming up with a consolidated plan from scratch — something the opposition lacks.

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