Conference Program

From Margin to Center: Connecting Struggles, Forging a National Movement

Stanford Students for Palestinian Equal Rights presents

Students for Justice in Palestine: Third National Conference 2013

Friday, 25 October 2013

Please note that all events are invitation-only unless otherwise specified. Invited guests include current Stanford student members of SPER’s partner organizations; current student members from SJP groups at colleges and universities; alumni actively involved in their SJP group and endorsed by current members; and members of Bay Area affiliated organizations. Invited guests must be pre-registered ​ for closed events. Cultural Night on Saturday and our closing plenary on Sunday will both be open to the public.

Registration 4:00pm – 5:30pm

Where Should The Birds Fly 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Where Should The Birds Fly is the story of two young women, Mona al-Samouni and filmmaker Fida Qishta, survivors of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. Mona, now 12, witnessed the death of dozens of family members when her home was hit by Israeli rockets during Operation Cast Lead. Born and raised in Rafah, Fida began her filmmaking career as a wedding videographer and soon moved on to working with international human rights observers in Gaza, documenting day to day life under siege. This documentary reveals the strength and hope that flourishes among the people of Gaza, even after one of it’s darkest hours.

Divestment Uncensored – SJP Activism Across California 6:30pm – 9:00pm
As the student movement for justice in Palestine progresses at the campus and national levels, the need arises to build stronger networks and coalitions regionally to build a more resourceful and sustainable movement. In 2012, SJP activists on the West Coast formed an umbrella coalition, SJP West, which has grown to more than 20 SJP chapters. From event planning to campus divestment campaigns, SJP West activists will discuss the progress of West Coast Palestine activism and how regional coalitions can be utilized to support student activists.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Registration & Breakfast 9:00am – 10:00am

Opening Plenary with Mezna Qato & Loubna Qutami 10:00am – 12:30 pm

Lessons for Liberty: A Century of Palestine Student Organizing in the US.
In the everyday urgencies of student mobilizations, and in our celebration of the tremendous successes of BDS campaigns across the country, we have scarce opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the histories of our national movement, and in particular the storied role of students within it. How have those who forged paths before us carried their responsibilities in this exhausting, extraordinary, remarkable, anti-colonial struggle? What can we learn from the strategies and tactics they crafted, and the principles and politics they upheld? As we continue to build on our campaign successes, what does this knowledge of our past require of us? Retrieving often forgotten episodes spanning the last one hundred years of student organizing for Palestine in the US, this talk hopes to open up conversation on how we, both Palestinians and allies, can contribute to the re-generation of Palestinian emancipatory spirit, the restoring our body politic and the reclaiming our popular sovereignty and liberation movement. Our struggle began with students, and it is only when students seize their revolutionary responsibility and take a lead in bringing together the energies, voices, talents, and strengths, of all Palestinians, will we begin to walk, together, the path towards liberation and return.

Lunch 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Political Development Workshops 1:30pm – 4:00 pm

The Palestine Youth Movement: Engaging New Generations of Palestinian Youth. PYM was first formed out of the dire need to cultivate a space in which Palestinian youth could reaffirm the transnational, anti-colonial dimension of the struggle and collectively re-shape the importance of youth in the broader movement. This workshop seeks to, first, tell the story of PYM’s formation and highlighting the experience as an example of re-building the first transnational popular movement in Palestinian history since the rupture of PLO institutions as a result of the Oslo Accords. Second, the workshop aims to engage young Palestinians, Arabs, and allies in considering new models, frameworks and approaches to our work that aims to rupture the temporality, inconsistency, exclusivity and short term activism that is largely associated with student organizing today. It aims to offer new approaches for students to connect their campus resources, experience, and organizing to the production of more effective material gains in Palestine liberation work.

Connecting with Community: Students and the Promises of National Movement Building. This workshop is a conversation with Mezna Qato and will offer a comprehensive understanding of historic and contemporary conditions and challenges confronting Palestinian communities in the US. Together, we will explore the ways students, both Palestinian and allies, can envision their campus work as emerging from a mutually supportive and organic relationship with broader national organizing amongst Palestinians in the Shatat. We will discuss the politics of reference, and principled practices necessary to upholding Palestinian self-determination. How does re-connection with Palestinian communities embolden and fuel the engine of student organizing, and what mechanisms of communication and support can be developed to that end? We will discuss some of the challenges to connecting with communities, and how they might be bridged positively with the aim of upholding both student autonomy and popular sovereignty.

Colonization of the Indigenous: Shared Narratives of the U.S. Southwest, Golan Heights, & Galilee. This workshop will provide an introductory and comparative study of the Syrian Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in 1967 and the Galilee. Bashar Tarabieh will elucidate the Syrian and Palestinian struggle as it relates to Israel’s overall strategy of land grab and Judaization in the region. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz will lead participants in an exploration of US settler colonial policies on the Indigenous peoples of the Southwest, including the local Ohlone Peoples, native to the San Francisco Bay Area. By exploring and relating the cases of the Golan and Galilee to US settler colonialism and policies of eradication, this workshop will generate a framework for analyzing settler colonialism throughout the world.

Take This Hammer: Disentangling the School to Prison Pipeline, Political Subjectivity and the Academic Bubble. This workshop seeks to connect struggles around the theme of mass incarceration in the U.S. and in Palestine. The title is inspired by the James Baldwin essay that interrogates “so called progressives” by suggesting what is truly at stake for people living in the “progressive” San Francisco Bay–real reform means the radical transformation and destruction of the comfortable lives people enjoy. Stanford is in close proximity to East Palo Alto–a community with an exceptionally high rate of mass incarceration. Stanford is also a short drive away from one of California’s biggest and oldest prisons–San Quentin. However, students rarely know or engage these communities in capacities outside of sociological informants, as subjects to interpret, or as statistical data. In having this conversation, we will attempt to problematize the ethics of giving or demanding solidarity from peoples of color, or communities facing structural violence when working within the context of activism from within a privileged academic community. Through this workshop we hope to develop concrete ways to work with Addameer, an organization working with political prisoners in Palestine, as well as incarcerated communities around our respective university campuses wherever we may be. In so doing, we will also initiate a project to deliver books to the San Quentin.

Intertwined Histories, Compounded Identities: Mizrahim & the Struggle for Palestine. This workshop will discuss historic and present struggles of Mizrahim (Jews from the Middle East/North Africa), and how they are integrally connected to Palestinian liberation, as well as that of other communities of color in 1948 Palestine, the US, and beyond. This workshop aims to deepen participants’ understanding of Israeli apartheid as a multi-tiered system of institutional racism, and how the struggles of all oppressed peoples inside of historic Palestine are essential to the future of a decolonized Palestine. [First set only]

Native History Under Attack: Youth Resistance to Laws that Crush Ethnic Studies, from Arizona to Israel. This workshop will provide a youth-led perspective on how Palestinian solidarity intertwines with local organizing around a high-profile movement to save ethnic studies, under fire in Arizona. The moderated discussion will cover how issues of Palestine solidarity developed in Tucson youth’s local organizing, from meeting with Palestinian youth-education activists, writing/publishing educational materials (articles, handouts, etc.), giving joint presentations on cross-movement connections, and holding internal political education workshops focusing on Palestinian justice.

Anti-Apartheid Student Movements: Victories, Limits, & the Horizon of Struggle This workshop will give an overview of the hxstory of student organizing in the late 1970s against South African apartheid, focusing on a multi-campus student coalition based in California that began at UC Berkeley around 1977. The given hxstory will not only share the highly organized tactics employed by the coalition—such as simultaneous days of action at multiple universities—but also look more deeply into how such movements can dissipate due to internal conflicts. This workshop also delves into the gains and limitations of divestment campaigns as a general tactic for movements in joint struggle against the racist systems of settler colonialism and capitalism. Ultimately, the workshop aims to highlight the challenges, uses, and limits of divestment as well as student organizing in general within broader struggles for decolonization.

Breaking the Special Relationship: the ‘Israel Lobby’ & Political Power in the US. This workshop will review the nature of US support for Israel. It will emphasize a systemic analysis of American ruling class formation and analyze the place of the Israel lobby as a component of class power in US foreign policy making. We will review the history of Israel in the trajectory of American imperialism in the Middle East, with reference to the political economy of the Arab world. The workshop will focus on developing critical and analytical skills for theorizing the ‘Special Relationship’ between the US and Israel and will examine the social and political/strategic implications of a lobby-centered political discourse for the US-based Palestine solidarity movement.

Deadly Economies: Israel’s Role in Worldwide Repression & Against Popular Movements. This workshop will discuss the details of Israel’s role in arming and funding reactionary forces around the world, including those forces attacking movements against racism, apartheid, war, capitalism, national liberation and socialism in the United States and across the global South. It will also provide an overview of the role of Zionist groups in splitting and harming grassroots movements in the United States. The goal of the workshop is to provide students with information they can use to make a case for the necessity of cross-movement organizing for racial , economic and gender justice, immigrant rights, indigenous sovereignty, environmental justice and protection and protection of 1st amendment rights.

From ‘Liberation’ to ‘Rights’: International Law & Legal Discourse on Palestine. How do we deal with the concept of ‘international law’ in useful ways without de-politicizing the historical and moral struggle of Palestinian national liberation? This workshop will review the history of the Palestinian struggle to examine the emergence of a rights-based discourse and the implications thereof. The workshop will also interrogate new and creative ways of critically rethinking legal concepts in our activism in order to further political consciousness and foreground concrete demands for justice. [First set only]

Islamophobia and the Movement. Throughout history, colonial projects have employed racism, intolerance, and fear mongering in occupying native peoples. The Zionist project has stirred and utilized Islamophobia in the US to suit its colonial ambitions in Palestine. Often times, progressive groups subconsciously adopt Islamophobic rhetoric that contradict the principles of social justice movements fighting to end racism and apartheid. This workshop will seek to identify key problems arising from Islamophobia within and outside the movement for justice in Palestine in the US and break down some wrongfully constructed social barriers.

Regional / Thematic Break-out groups
 4:00pm – 6:00 pm
Students will break out by regional or thematic groups and begin (or continue!) the discussion on coordination and communication between Palestine solidarity student groups to strengthen local work on campus. Groups and rooms will be announced on-site.

Dinner 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Political Development Workshops – Second Set 7:00pm – 9:00 pm
Intertwined Histories, Compounded Identities: Mizrahim & the Struggle for Palestine” and “From ‘Liberation’ to ‘Rights’: International Law & Legal Discourse on Palestine” will only occur during the first set of workshops. Everything else is the same as first set of political development workshops.

Raise the Keffiyeh: Celebrating a Night of Palestinian Culture

Dinkelspiel Auditorium

9:30pm – 11:30pm Join us for a night of Palestinian music, dance, poetry, spoken word, hip-hop and more! There will be performances by students, as well as Ramallah-based hip-hop artist Stormtrap, spoken word artist Lubna Morrar, and poet Remi Kanazi. Dabke troupe Sanabel Al-Quds will also be performing.
**Admission is free for conference attendees and Stanford students with ID and $10 at the door for the general public **

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Breakfast 9:00am – 10:00am

Skill Building Workshops 10:00am – 12:00pm

How to reach the media or create your own! Learn how to deal with media and how to use media to your organizational advantage with this interactive workshop. This workshop will be heavily focused on giving you the confidence to interact with media during campaigns and actions, as well as giving you knowledge on how your organization can utilize social media effectively.

Campus Divestment, Part 1. Many successful BDS stories come from campuses where, just a few years ago, divestment seemed impossible. What did those SJPs do to change their circumstances and how did they lay the groundwork for a successful bill? This workshop (part one of two) deals with how to lay the groundwork for a successful divestment campaign on campus. In the first half of this workshop, we will focus on preparations that SJPs make to write a bill, build allies, educate their groups, and plan for divestment. In the second segment, we will focus on understanding and navigating student governments, which can often be a source of confusion for groups that traditionally work outside the student government system.

The Gaza Kitchen: A Culinary Journey Through Gaza. Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt will be discussing the process of publishing, and the content of their critically acclaimed book. The Gaza Kitchen. This workshop is for students interested in learning more about fundraising, access to publishing, cultural production and resistance and most importantly food! Their book was recently featured on the season premiere of Anthony Bourdain’s show “Jerusalem” and is putting Gaza on the map in profound and delicious ways. El-Haddad and Schmitt will be giving a participatory cooking demo of Gazan salad and showing how they animated the landscape of a place like Gaza through the subject of food, in kitchens that produce it, and from the hands of the people who cook it.

Programming a Semester.This workshop will provide an overview of three main tracks of student organizing in order to identify core strategies for designing semester-long programs: coalition-building, political education, and public campaigns. Participants will outline recurring concerns and challenges, drawing on personal experience from different chapters. Finally, we will collectively generate key questions that can enrich organizing practices and increase efficacy on campus.

The Art of a Story: The Importance of Storytelling in a Movement. The growth of any movement stems from the narrative you share with the world. Storytelling is crucial in conveying these narratives. How can a single story completely shift public perception? This will be an interactive discussion where we explore the different mediums used for storytelling. We will break down the process of building an effective story and how to be proactive in discourse production.

Dealing with Opposition and Normalization. Being underfunded and underresourced are two disadvantages that make it difficult for SJPs across the nation to combat challenges fro opposition groups. But that’s what makes strategy that much more important. How do you appropriately deal with campus administrators pushing for “dialogue”? What routes do you take if a pro-Zionist group sabotages your SJP’s event? This interactive workshop will introduce students to a variety of approaches in dealing with these very real situations.

Know Your Rights. As activists, what are the legal issues we should look out for? This interactive workshop will not only teach us about our rights as they relate to the First Amendment and Free Speech, but will also include how to spot and respond to violations of our rights. How should we handle FBI or law enforcement contact? This workshop will also include a discussion regarding surveillance, BDS, and the recently dismissed Title VI complaints.

Lunch 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Skill Building & Campaigns Workshops 1:00pm – 3:00pm

Identifying Media Opportunities and Writing Effective Op-Eds. This workshop focuses on identifying and learning to write successful and persuasive op-eds that help convince the student body to support Palestinian rights. Students will see examples of successful student op-eds published in the past year, and identify elements that make them strong. The workshop will also include a hands-on portion in which students will gain practice writing an op-ed based on a sample topic. The workshop will also discuss how to deal with campus press when it refuses to run op-eds or cover issues, and how to develop a media plan that works for each student group.

Campus Divestment, Part 2. This workshop builds on Part 1 and focuses on what happens on campus once a divestment campaign is launched. When an SJP is ready to propose a bill in the student senate, how do we ensure that, no matter the vote, we walk away successful? This workshop will cover how to use campus attention on divestment to effectively teach students about Palestine, build solidarity between student groups, deflate the power of bullying and anti-divestment rhetoric, and move the question of Palestine from the margin to the center of campus politics. When the question of Palestine is opened up to a wider discussion, student senators and other groups can often change the discourse to center on their own priorities. How do we effectively deal with those challenges and keep the divestment debate accountable to Palestinians, rather than letting it devolve into debates around other topics?

Building for Power on Campus: Coalition-Building. What does it mean to cross-movement build with other movements on your campus? How can you build sustainable alliances with other organizations? What does solidarity look like? With the migrant, LGBTQ, and environmental rights movements on the forefront of US activism, how can Palestine solidarity organizations use an intersectional approach in working with these other movements? During this workshop, these questions will be discussed and examined in depth!

Academic & Cultural Boycott. The lives of rock stars and actors dominate major US media, making cultural boycott a pertinent focal point for boycott work in the United States. Combined with Israeli society’s high regard for academia, the work of promoting the cultural and academic boycott of Israel has immense, untapped potential. By targeting well-known artists, students can build accessible, engaging and fun campaigns on campus to challenge Israeli apartheid. This workshop will include a presentation on relevant campaigns, an outline and analysis of tactics and an open discussion to brainstorm future efforts.

Unifying Community and Campus Struggles. A proliferation of community groups are launching local BDS campaigns to build up grassroots pressure geared towards bringing about a change in U.S. policy on Israel. This workshop will give students an opportunity to learn how they can take part in community-based campaigns and what changes when campaigns are not campus-centered. We will discuss important campaign basics such as setting goals, identifying targets, choosing tactics, and determining why, when, and how students should work with community groups on awareness-raising and BDS campaigns. There will also be a discussion where we will brainstorm how students can reach out to off campus allies to support their own campus campaigns.

HP: Horrible Profits! Harms Palestine! Bringing an HP boycott to your campus! HP is a household name, especially on college campuses where HP printers and other equipment are sold in our bookstores. At this workshop, we will learn the nuts & bolts of HP’s involvement with the Israeli military, government and occupation; develop a sample campaign plan for bringing HP to campus; and gather the resources you need to educate your campus community about HP.

Closing Plenary with Mira Nabulsi and Nadia Barhoum from the Palestinian Youth Movement, Sara Kershnar from the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network, and Sanyika Bryant from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.


Cemex Auditorium

3:00pm – 5:30pm

Beyond Solidarity with Palestine: The Case for Joint Struggle
This panel will argue for the need to go beyond a limited understanding of solidarity with Palestine and to embrace a politics and practice of joint struggle. We define joint struggle as the ways and the specific roles and work that different parts of movements for justice play in a shared challenge to exploitation, repression and oppression. Specifically, the collaboration between the US, Israel, and Zionist organizations and corporations in relation to occupation and colonization of Palestine, the global arms trade, perpetual war, ecological destruction, exploitation of resources, population control, mass incarceration and suppression of popular grassroots movements has profound implications for all of us. These implications are not mere analogies; rather, it is often the very same corporations, governments, organizations and strategies that we are struggling against here in the United States.

Based on the work our organizations do separately and together, we will share, describe and offer specific examples of joint struggle, and the dangers of limiting our work to traditional notions of solidarity. Using examples from the Palestinian movement for self-determination and those who support it, we will share principles and practices of joint struggle, and successes and challenges and questions that we can use to guide us in our efforts to build joint struggle. In concluding, panelists hope to join together with other conference participants in a discussion of concrete directions for joint struggle on campus,in relationship to BDS and other types of movement work, and identify ways of building relationships between campus organizing and community-based efforts of joint struggle with the Palestinian movement for self-determination.

Stanford SPER & NSJP say good-bye 5:30pm – 6:00pm