After Pitzer College’s President Melvin L. Oliver decided to keep the college’s only study abroad program in Israel against the faculty and student senate’s recommendation, the Claremont chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) launched a two week-long “Palestine Freedom Week” denouncing Oliver’s decision and Israel’s “Zionist violence,” and praising organizations such as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Black Panther Party. Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine serves the Claremont Colleges, a college consortium in Southern California which includes Pomona, Harvey Mudd, Claremont McKenna, Scripps, and Pitzer Colleges.
Poster for Palestine Freedom Weekh
“Heard about #SuspendPitzerHaifa? Wondering why #MelvinWontListen as, in an unprecedented move, Pitzer’s president rejected the recommendation of College Council to suspend the Haifa study abroad program? Join Claremont SJP during our two-week long Palestine Freedom Weeks to learn more about the context for what’s been happening on campus as we come together to celebrate generations of Palestinians fighting for their freedom,” read SJP’s announcement about the events taking place from March 25 to April 5.
Consisting of events spread across two weeks, SJP hopes to use Palestine Freedom Week “to raise awareness on our campuses for this freedom struggle as we contribute to the larger, global movement to end Israel’s crimes against humanity.”
Events include the “Theft of Hummus: Food Appropriation Workshop,” which aims to counter “Israel’s colonial project to create an identity and project an image out to the world.”
Another event, “Open Air & Cages: Prison Abolition from Attica to Gaza,” ties the Israel-Palestine issue to prison abolition: “This event will work through the solidarity pacts of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Black Panther party who attempted to draw ‘comparisons between racial capitalism in the United States and Israel, strategizing together in Algiers-under a project of revolutionary internationalism and anti-imperialism.’” The event appears to tie Israeli domestic policy to white supremacy, aiming to “unmask the white supremacist and settler colonial projects that have worked to maintain Black and Brown bodies in bondage both domestically and internationally.” The PLO has long been listed as a terrorist group, but now is a “non-member observer state” in the United Nations.
Consistent with events held in previous years, SJP included a workshop on Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), a movement aimed at economically targeting Israel. SJP links “US imperialism” with the Israel-Palestine issue, comparing Israeli policies to “apartheid.”
SJP is also building a replica of the “Israeli Apartheid Wall” to bring attention to “Israel’s policies of land theft and ethnic cleansing.”
One of the final events of the two week-long anti-Israel marathon denounces efforts by Israel to use its liberal policies on LGBTQ rights—rare in the Middle East—to “pinkwash, greenwash, faith-wash the global image of Israel which has further enabled the normalization of Israeli occupation, settler colonialism, and apartheid.”
As with previous years, SJP will screen Occupation of the American Mind, a documentary on “Israel’s ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territory.” Occupation of the American Mind has been denounced by Jewish groups such as the Lappin Foundation as an “anti-Semitic screed” “[promoting] lies and includes conspiracy theories of the influence of Jews and Israel on the American government, finances and the media,” comparing it to “Nazi-like propaganda.”