Student organizations disagree on social injustice in Israel

One student organization’s campaign to correct social injustices in Israel prompted another organization to do the same, though with a very different opinion.

On April 15, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) began a series of events in response to claims of apartheid – racial segregation – among the Palestinian and Jewish communities in Israel. As a response, the Hillel Jewish Student Center launched it’s own campaign on the same day.

Though both clubs’ events are scheduled to end Thursday, they send vastly different messages. SJP claims that Palestinian and Jewish Israelis live in an apartheid system, while the Hillel Jewish Student Center claims the apartheid does not exist.

Hadeel Said, a senior majoring in international studies and president of SJP, said the group is nearing the end of their Israeli Apartheid Week campaign, part of an annual international campaign to “educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system,” according to it’s website.

On Wednesday, the SJP will hand out educational fliers and brochures about the conflict in Israel. Thursday night, they will be supporting the Arab Cultural Association at USF in hosting a movie night in MSC 2708 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., where they will play “Occupation 101,” a movie about racial segregation in Israel.

“We are pro-peace, we’re not against Israel, we aren’t anti-Semitic,” Said said. “That’s the accusations we have been getting. We just want to bring awareness to what’s going on over there – show people what’s happening to the Palestinian people and the impressions, the injustices that are going on.”

When the Hillel Jewish Student Center learned of the SJP’s campaign the Friday before it was scheduled to begin, they decided to start their own to prove that there is no apartheid in Israel.

Erica Freedland, a member of the center and a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, said the group decided to launch their campaign – “Stand up for Israel, Stand up for peace. Boycott Hate.” – because members believe the “Jewish state is being misrepresented in a negative way.”

“As Zionists (advocates for a sovereign Jewish nation), we feel it is necessary to properly educate the campus community about Israel,” she said. “As the only pro-Israel group on campus, I feel it is our duty to get involved.”

The Hillel Jewish Student Center planned two lectures on the history of the Jewish people in Israel, which took place on Tuesday and Thursday of last week.

Freedland said she personally feels there is no apartheid in Israel because the Israelis and Palestinians “all go to school together and have the right to vote.”

“It’s just other people who aren’t even in that situation, such as Muslims in America,” she said, that spread the belief that there is an apartheid in Israel.

Said said the only conflict between the two groups was over quotes posted on the SJP organization’s Facebook page, which were deleted. A post by SJP on the wall for one of Hillel’s events last week accused the group of also deleting posts by Israeli Apartheid Week supporters.

“The Israelis that are pro-Zionist are usually very quick to host counter events, and it is their right,” she said. “There is another view, there is another opinion, there is another perspective. We all respect that.”