A Simple Demonstration Lands CSI in the Middle of the Debates at the Gaza Strip
by Clifford Michel
This semester, College of Staten Island’s Office of Student Life officially recognized Students for Justice in Palestine as a chartered
club. The newly implemented club plans to garner awareness for the state of Palestine, especially during the month of March in support of Israeli Apartheid week.
SJP held a tabling event outside of 1P on March 4, handing out flyers and holding up signs to spread the everyday injustices experienced by Palestinians. And on March 14 they invited author, Ali Abunimah, of “The Battle for Justice in Palestine” to speak at the lecture hall.
“SJP is a fight for human rights and the Palestinian people. Our purpose is mainly raising awareness about human rights violations that occur in Palestine and build solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for human rights because it’s not really spoken about in the media or even in school,” said Neerden Mohsen, SJP club President. “We want to reclaim the narrative, and we’re not going to wait around and wait for someone to come up and save us or save the Palestinians we want to bring that voice to our campus ourselves because we have a voice here, especially in New York City and we want to use it.”
SJP at CSI is a supporter of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) tactics used in order to end, what they define as, Apartheid in Israel. Popular products that are frequently boycotted by SJP chapters are: Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard (HP), L’oreal, Sabra Hummus and Sodastream. The ultimate goal of BDS is to boycott all Israeli products until the country complies with all international law.
“The fact is, the way that International politics and U.S. domestic politics are aligned, no action is taken. This is why people have adopted grassroots action in the form of BDS. I would like to see the U.S. in a position that would require Israel to abide by international laws, but I don’t think that would happen without pressure from below,” said Abunimah, who is also a board member of the Arab American Action Network. “I’m very optimistic and hopeful, because this is a movement that unites people from so many movements including Jewish and Israeli people.”
In both of the events that SJP held on campus, pro-Israel members from Hillel and the Chi Alpha Christian Club came out to share their thoughts on SJP. Though Mohsen expressed that pushback on all fronts was to be expected for such a controversial topic. “They called it continuous because of what happened in other CUNYS. They specifically mentioned what occurred in Brooklyn College, and just to get into the SJP building they make you go through a full body pat down, a full body metal detector and then a smaller metal detector to look through your bag—which are all intimidation tactics,” said Mohsen, referring to the Office of Student Life.
Despite the pushback, the CSI chapter of SJP is currently sponsored by the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Sociology and the English Department. On March 25 SJP is holding another event where three CSI professors will join the BDS movement and boycott Israeli academia as they deny Palestinians academic freedom.
SJP is a college student activism organization based in the United States and Canada. Formed in 2001, the organization holds more than 80 chapters at American colleges and universities. The SJP chapter at CSI is located in Building 1S, Room 217 and meets on Tuesdays from 2:30PM to 4:30PM.