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Activist for Palestine speaks about cause at teach-in

The latest teach-in highlighted one view point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Growing up in a conservative Chicago neighborhood, Jeff Picker was always taught to keep his political opinions to himself, he said. His self-described “intensely private” family never participated in activism or demonstrations, so when he dabbled in the anti-war movement as an eighth grader,… Read more »

The latest teach-in highlighted one view point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Growing up in a conservative Chicago neighborhood, Jeff Picker was always taught to keep his political opinions to himself, he said. His self-described “intensely private” family never participated in activism or demonstrations, so when he dabbled in the anti-war movement as an eighth grader, his parents hoped it was a phase. Then he decided he wanted to go to college in Palestine.

“I realized…it was really important for me, particularly as a person with white skin privilege and class privilege to work directly with marginalized communities,” Picker explained to students at the Dissent in America Teach-in Friday, April 6.

After breaking the news to his parents, Picker said, he shipped off to Birzeit University in the West Bank.

Picker wanted to experience firsthand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an issue that has received increasing amounts of attention in recent years.

In an incredibly condensed history, Picker explained to students the injustices suffered by the Palestinian people during the course of the past half-century. Their land has progressively shrunk in size, he said, to the point where the current available farmland is not nearly enough to sustain its people.

Along with geographic reduction, the rights of the Palestinian people have been effectively rendered nonexistent by an oppressive Israeli military force.

“One entire side, Israel, enjoys some semblance of security,” Picker said. “They enjoy political agency, they have freedom of movement, access to education…and almost an entire side, Palestinians, lack those basic rights.”

In an effort to convey the human element of this oppression to students, Picker shared some of his activism experiences. As a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Project, Picker has worked extensively in the Palestinian town of Beit Ummar, located outside of Bethlehem.

Picker said, despite daily Israeli forces in Beit Ummer, he helped to cultivate unarmed resistance through activism.

This unarmed resistance, which includes moving roadblocks, tax boycotts and other nonviolent tactics, has breathed new life in to the Palestinian cause, he said, and has garnered support from Israeli citizens who also believe the Palestinian oppression is a travesty.

“The lines are being redrawn now,” said Picker, who was thrilled with Israeli involvement in solidarity initiatives. “It’s not Israeli versus Palestinian, it’s not Muslim versus Jew. It’s people who are supporting and continuing the occupation policies [versus] those that are working to resist them.”

As Picker and his fellow activists look forward to future resistance efforts, he hopes that Americans can learn from the example of his own parents; once adamantly opposed to his global interests, they are now at every demonstration, and are actively spreading awareness of the conflict.

“This is a really exciting time,” Picker concluded. “It’s a precious opportunity for Americans to get involved in the global discussion of human rights.”

Ali Watkins can be reached at ali.watkins@temple.edu.

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    2 comments on “Activist for Palestine speaks about cause at teach-in

    1. Arafat on said:

      I think Israel should become Hamasistan. The world needs one more Islamic country (56 of them is not nearly enough) and one state where Jews can live in safety is apparently one too many for the likes of our college mainstream geniuses.

      I’m betting it would take one year for Hamastainians to destroy everything it took Israel sixty years to build. How is that for productivity for ya? One instead of sixty is 60 times better according to my math. Plus, then the Hamastanians could whine, beg and grovel for MORE international aid and the US will pony up in no time. For what could be better than giving aid to our enemies instead of our friends. That’s what our college professors tell us is so, and they must be right because they are professors few of whom ever really worked in the real world but all of whom sure have read a lot of books.

      It will be fun watching our professors squirm after Hamasistan invades Jordan because it is ruled by a Monarchy instead of a fire-breathing Islamist government. I’m confident they will figure out a way to blame it on the ghost of Israel past. If not America is always an easy target. And it would also be fun to watch Hamasistan invade Lebanon because it is ruled by Shi’ites and not Sunnis. Then the US can send Hamasistan even more aid. What better way for us to spend our hard-earned tax-payer dollars then on people who will use it to destroy us. Our politicians make our professors look like, well, professors.

      Doesn’t this make a lot of sense to everyone else? I mean look at what sterling examples of enlightened states Muslims states are. Sudan, for example, or Somalia – both beacons of lights to the free world. We cannot learn enough about women’s rights, gay rights, social justice and diversity from these fine examples, could we?

      We can all agree that Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Iran are countries we can be proud to call our friends.

      And what of Pakistan, Afghnaistan, Kyrgistan, you pick Astan and chances are it is a Paradise of unwed virgins (until they turn 13 that is).

      In any case you all get my drift. It seems silly Israel should exist as a safe haven for persecuted Jews. Let’s ignore the Jew’s 3,000 years of persecution and pretend it never really happened and let’s cry our crocodile tears dry for the Palestinians instead. OK? For this is the only way we will destroy Israel, i.e., through bullsh*t propaganda and crocodile tears, because the one billion+ Muslims have not figured out how to do it otherwise.

      And what’s more, Hamasistan will be so much more in keeping with the neighborhood.

    2. Arafat on said:

      Palestinians are a miserable and pathetic people. They slit the throats of innocent Israeli families, then whine when Israel sets up check points to prevent this. They blow themselves up on crowded Israeli buses, then whimper when Israel prevents this with a wall. The shoot rockets at Israel by the thousands, then kvetch and moan when Israel deploys Iron Dome defenses to prevent this, too.

      They forced the construction of the wall. They necessitated the checkpoints. All of their misery is their own doing. But they will never acknowledge that truth; because that would mean self-reflection and intelligence (decency and kindness) on their part– all characteristics they and their leadership know nothing about.

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