Students for Justice in Palestine urged the university to deliver a pledge ensuring that it will not invest in military manufacturers that indirectly provide weaponry to Israel.
The request, which is part of the organization’s divestment campaign, was made in a speech delivered by founding member Nehad Khader during the “Is Divestment the Solution?” presentation held last Wednesday as part of the group’s “Resistance to Israeli Apartheid” week.
Beginning last Monday, the group hosted
a series of five events, which ranged from guest speakers to demonstrations. They were intended to “promote justice, human rights, liberation and self-determination for the Palestinian people,” according to the group’s mission statement.
“We are seeking that TU fully pull investments out of all military corporations that sell weaponry, equipment and technology to the Israeli military, thereby helping to maintain the military occupation of Palestinian territories,”
Khader, a senior English and sociology double major, said in her speech.
Since Temple’s investment portfolio is private, it is not clear if the university actually invests in such corporations.
The U.S. government and military manufacturers have been criticized around the world for providing munitions to Israel. In January, the Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy group, urged the United States to withhold munitions from Israel.
SJP called for an end to Israeli occupation in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
The group is also encouraging student awareness of the issue.
In her opening statement, Khader adopted the stance of the Palestinian Civil Society and called for broad boycotts against Israel “similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”
During a nonviolent demonstration called “Living in the Shadow of the Wall,” which was held Tuesday at the Bell Tower, SJP members simulated the experience of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
About 15 members of Temple Students for Israel went to the demonstration to pass out fliers providing an opposing viewpoint. The two groups began chanting, trying to outdo each other. As the noise level increased, arguments ensued and Campus Police had to intervene. No arrests were made. Andi Moldoff, president and founding member of TSI, said she thought Tuesday’s demonstration was “negative” and highlighted SJP’s tendency to make TSI seem like a pro-war organization. Moldoff said this caused her and other TSI members to attend the demonstration.
SJP members have attended TSI’s events in the past to argue with guest speakers, Moldoff said.
“It’s nice that we can all share our opinions. But we don’t get along,” she said.
Moldoff said some of the things SJP says and does are anti-Semitic, a claim SJP denies.
“They’re a reactionary group and they view us as a target,” Khader said of TSI. “Our strategy has nothing to do with them.”
The groups have had a history of tension since they were founded in 2004. But they say it is not symbolic of the current
conflicts in the Middle East. Both organizations are advocacy groups and are open to people of all races and ethnic backgrounds.
The strained relationship between the two groups left students with mixed feelings about the demonstration.
Nathan Carr-Whealy, a senior law and business major, said he feared Tuesday’s demonstration was going to “get out of hand.”
“Anytime I see this stuff, I don’t want to hang around,” he said.Some students felt the incident may have helped both organizations. Moldoff said the week rejuvenated her group.
“When people see our fliers, they become
aware,” Moldoff said.
Zach Brown, a sophomore communications
major, said the incident will make students
remember both groups.”I think they’ve done a good job,” Brown said. “I think they got their point across.”
Nick Pipitone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.