While in university I orchestrated the establishement of a Friends of Palestine Society. It started off with an idea, then with a near manic compulsion to see the idea flower into reality.
It was hard, there were only a few of us, only 2 of us was palestinian, and she was much younger than me, so I hated to ask too much of her. I am afraid I did burden her with my hysterical break downs, but I did try not to! She had grown up in the UK, and had a way with words… which came in useful when we were attacked by zionists on campus. Attack is a strong word, it was more like a nasty confrontation of having our leaflets savagely removed from the stand, but it was my first experience of such racism, and it shook me. It was a very trying time for me.
But I learnt fast, I learnt that they change the subject, they never tackle the issue, and successfully steer focus away from what is happening to the Palestinians to what happened to the Jews in the holocaust, or the odd suicide bomber, or how Jews were treated badly and expelled from Arab countries upon the establishment of the state of israel (never found any non-zionist source for this, so I consider it a lie). They will object to the use of the word ‘apartheid’ when you speak of the apartheid wall, saying that israel allows non-jews to ride buses & was thus not apartheid.. I still remember the resounding snorts of laughter when this was declared😀.
Most amusing of all, is their comeback of ‘well arabs treat palestinians badly too’, when you demonstrate the barbaric, inherent racism of the state of israel. Ah, so Lebanon treats Palestinian refugees badly, so it must be ok for Israel to do it too😀
They write letters to the student union, declaring that the friends of palestine (FOP) society MAY endanger the lives of Jewish students on campus (at the time there was 4 of us, 3 girls🙂 ) , they will object to the hosting of a talk on the history of palestine because we MAY refuse admittance to a known zionist… imagination they have in abundance, facts, zilch.
We never got angry, we always kept to the guidlines of the university (each event was advertised, and each event had a chair—usually yours truly)… but each time the zionist said jump the university would sit up and reel us in. Eventually, I got angry. I put my foot down, I painted them a picture of racism and discrimination, I illustrated the feelings of a person feeling the need to the conceal their identity, I reminded them of our glowing record of conduct (they later admitted we were “an exemplary society”)… I then pointed the finger of abuse at them, for allowing an individual to make our lives difficult based on imagined wrongs we MIGHT do!!! They called a meeting, I agreed on the condition the he who had been wronging us not be present, as I could not sit in the same room as someone racist towards me, they agreed (very understanding actually) and said they would get someone else from the Jewish society, I said that was fine, but none turned up… maybe our Zionist was a lone ranger? The meeting ended in our favour, even though we were left with the feeling that alot was not said.. the fact that the head of security also attended gave the meeting and even more onorous feel.
Before leaving university, knowing that my nemisis remained, and that the new president was a newbie, I wrote a letter to the student union, outlining the problems we had, and naming the individual by name. Something I was advised to do.
When I first started with student campaigning, I thought that the Zionists were very clever very powerful people. I was right about the first and about the second, they have alot of backup here. I was wrong about something else, I viewed them as an unsurmountable obstacle that I would face in my campaign for Palestine… one thing I totally underestimated was they had no legitimate cause except the gain of power! and that Palestine has ALL the facts on her side. I should not have forgotten it….
Filed under: Palestine