Here’s a shiningly hopeful article about the Berkeley campaign to divest from Israeli occupation, and the turning point it represents in this country’s understanding of Israel/Palestine and our role in the conflict. The dam is bursting, make no mistake.
Cecilie Surasky of Jewish Voice for Peace reports that pro-justice groups on other campuses are contacting her requesting assistance finding speakers for other campus divestment campaigns, and I would like to offer myself as one of those speakers. I’ve developed a presentation that I’ve given on the Stanford campus, at the University of Oklahoma, at Google Tech Talks, and at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Washington, DC.
It begins with pictures and stories of the good life in Palestine — students going to the Prom, people joking around at the olive harvest or drinking wine in secret lofts in Hebron, pictures of Osama’s Pizza parlor, Sangria’s beautiful beer garden, Muslims playing soccer on a field owned by a church, and the hilariously-named Stars & Bucks Cafe in central Ramallah, etc. I think this kind of thing is vital to humanize the Palestinians, who are mostly known in this country only as fanatical terrorists due to the one-sided nature of our media.
This is followed by facts, photos, and statistics of what the occupation does to these good people, from checkpoints, the Wall, and home demolitions to the shocking number of Palestinian children shot by Israeli soldiers, and the fact that almost no one is ever indicted for the wrongful killing of Palestinian civilians.
Finally I talk briefly about America’s support for Israel, why this support is going on, and what we can do about it.
A video of an early version of the talk was posted on Youtube and can be viewed here.
It makes an excellent “Palestine for Beginners” talk that puts things in a perspective rarely seen by mainstream Americans. It’s a sober, calm, non-inflammatory talk — just the facts — that offers both an intellectual and a visceral understanding of what the occupation means and why it is our responsibility to help end it. It was enjoyed and appreciated even by the Defense Department insiders who saw it at the Institute for Defense Analyses. They asked intelligent questions and seemed satisfied by my answers.
Please feel free to keep me in mind as a possible speaker for campus divestment initiatives. I’m very happy to travel and speak on this issue. You can reach me on pamolson (at) gmail.