Young Chicago Palestine activists need your help

The fourth annual National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) conference will convene at Tufts University in Boston on October 24. This entirely student-run conference is set to bring together student representatives from well over one hundred colleges and universities who will work together to push forward the struggle for Palestinian rights through their grassroots activism and campaigning here in the United States.

The importance of this conference cannot be understated. It is the one time in the year when students from all parts of the country are able to meet, to share their successes and struggles face to face, to coordinate future activities in person, and to physically build this student movement in ways that can’t be done through Twitter or text. For three days, these young activists will be able to centralize their efforts, network with new faces and old faces, and develop a plan for the upcoming year that will put pressure on institutions and organizations that support Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights.

This year’s conference goes a bit further. In light of the recent shooting in Ferguson and the heavy-handed response to protests condemning police violence, and in light of the frequent abuse of power intended to target, intimidate, and harm persons of color, NSJP has made it a point to better understand the militarization of police in the U.S. and how this has acutely and chronically impacted underprivileged communities and minorities. The goal is to draw connections between many of the struggles faced by Palestinian students under Israel’s military occupation and students of color under the government’s crosshairs here in the U.S.

This important work is being undertaken by students who need our support. Transportation costs, housing fees, equipment rentals all add up. Despite NSJP’s hard work to raise funds to cover many of these expenses, students far from the Boston area especially are prepared to show you just how far your donated dollars will go.

Last month, student organizers based in Chicago published a short video explaining what they hope to achieve from this conference and how your generosity can help them meet their goals. There are nearly a dozen universities in the Chicagoland area sending upwards of forty SJP organizers to the NSJP conference. To cover food, lodging, and travel, Chicago-area SJP chapters set out to raise $5,000. As of this writing, they are $1,700 away from their goal. It’s up to us to make this happen.

Please consider donating. As an active member of SJP Chicago during my undergraduate days, I can say with full conviction that these are the students who have shaped me into the world-conscious and justice-seeking individual that I strive to be today. Having been a part of the first two NSJP conferences, I can also say that there is no better space for organizing, for networking, and for building this student movement than in the cramped halls and crowded lecture rooms of the host venue. These conferences are where the blueprints for a better future are made, and you have a very big role to play.

In the past two weeks alone, student organizers in Chicago hosted four successful events featuring Professor Salaita who was stripped of his professorship at the University of Illinois for his stance on Palestine and Israel. Students have actively challenged institutionalized suppression of academic freedom. SJP members at Loyola University Chicago were put under temporary suspension and investigated for no clear reason after students tabling for the anti-Palestinian Birthright organization complained of ’emotional distress’ following a peaceful and creative demonstration coordinated by concerned students. In addition, SJP organizers and local community members have banded together to express their solidarity with protesters in Ferguson through scheduled events, city-wide actions, and an upcoming trip to the city of Ferguson where they expect to literally add their voices to those condemning police brutality.

SJP Chicago — and SJP collectives all across the nation — are doing great things. Please consider helping them take their work to the next level.

To donate to SJP Chicago or to learn more about them, visit their fundraising page. Watch the video for ten compelling reasons why your donation matters.

To donate to NSJP and to help send a student to the conference, visit their fundraising page. To learn more about this year’s upcoming conference, read their conference announcement. Follow their website for conference updates.

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