[Marxism] Palestinian Refugee: Stanford students censored me over condemnation of Israel

A.R. G amithrgupta at gmail.com
Thu Apr 14 00:51:05 MDT 2016

In case you didn't see it, here's Amena El-Ashkar's version of the events
at Stanford in a video interview
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKqkm5j7qd4&feature=youtu.be> and press
release. Also, I did some googling of Stanford SJP's website. If their
story was already nonsensical enough (who shuts down an event over
crackpots in the audience? There would be 0 leftist events left), they are
apparently still listing If Americans Knew as a resource on their own
website <https://sjp.stanford.edu/resources/websites/>. Given that that was
the reason they (falsely) claimed to shut down the talk, that's pretty
fucking astonishing. [Screenshot here in case they delete]

I'm still interested in hearing Jeff and others defend this kind of
conduct. How will they do it now? Maybe they should say the refugee herself
is a liar and that Stanford SJP's own website has been commandeered by
Alison Weir. It's a conspiracy!



11 April 2016

In an interview
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKqkm5j7qd4&feature=youtu.be>, Amena
El-Ashkar, a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon, states that she refused to
speak at Stanford University after students told her she could not express
her views about Israel.

I’m coming here to say
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKqkm5j7qd4&feature=youtu.be#t=01m05s> that
Israel has no right to exist. [The students] said we could discuss this
kind of thing with each other, but not in front of American people…

Ms. Ashkar’s talk is one of several on a national “North American Nakba Tour
a tour designed to educate Americans about the enduring effects Israel’s
mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948. Ms. Ashkar and
Mariam “Umm Akram” Fathallah, an 86-year-old survivor of the expulsion, had
planned to speak at Stanford University on 6 April 2016. Ms. Ashkar was
born and raised in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, where her
ancestors were banished during the expulsion, or Nakba, of 1948.

Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which was hosting the
talk at Stanford, told Ms. Ashkar that their existence as a campus
organization depends on not challenging Israel’s “right to exist,” and told
her not to address the topic. Ms. Ashkar refused to censor herself and was
shocked that an organization named “Students for Justice in Palestine”
would insist on such a requirement. Although some of the students admitted
to sharing Ms. Ashkar’s views, the students cited the hostile
administrative climate at Stanford to justify censoring their guest.

I told them, it is a fight
and any fight is going to have sacrifices. In Lebanon, we have Palestinian
clubs…which do not take funds from the University. We pay it ourselves.

Stanford SJP released a false statement
<https://www.facebook.com/StanfordSJP/posts/1015517068540461> attributing
the cancellation to concerns about Alison Weir, a pro-Palestinian
commentator who was in the audience. Ms. Weir was subject to widely disputed
<http://mondoweiss.net/2015/08/roundtable-palestinian-solidarity/> — and
widely rejected <https://stopdivisiveattacks.wordpress.com/> — accusations
of anti-Semitism by other Palestinian rights organizers last summer,
revealing deep-seated divisions within the Palestinian rights movement.
Although Tour organizers had informally asked Ms. Weir to give Ms. Ashkar
public speaking advice, and Ms. Weir had offered the Tour some generic
informational materials — none of which are authored by Weir — Ms. Weir is
not one of the national organizers of the North American Nakba Tour and was
not a planned speaker. Weir offered to sell copies of her own writings at
the event to raise money for the Tour, but complied when Stanford students
asked her not to sell them. The statement alleges that Ms. Weir refused to
leave when asked, which Weir and Tour organizers deny. No security
personnel were called to remove Weir or anyone else from the audience;
instead, the speaker herself felt alienated and called off the event.

Ms. Ashkar explains that disagreements about who was in the audience were
not why the talk was canceled. Instead, Ms. Ashkar says that she herself
called off the talk when the organizers demanded that she censor herself.

The existence of Israel, as I told the SJP, means that I have no right to
Because I am a refugee in a Palestinian camp inside Lebanon. The Lebanese
government doesn’t want me, and we cannot return. So what are we? Are we
going to stay stateless refugees generation after generation?

One of the Tour’s informational flyers
<http://ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/rte.html> — provided by Weir, but
authored by former PLO legal advisor John V. Whitbeck — had made similar
arguments, apparently sparking the feud. The flyer states, in part,

To demand that Palestinians recognize “Israel’s right to exist” is to
demand that a people who have been treated as subhumans unworthy of basic
human rights publicly proclaim that they are subhumans. It would imply
Palestinians’ acceptance that they deserve what has been done and continues
to be done to them. Even 19th-century US governments did not require the
surviving native Americans to publicly proclaim the “rightness” of their
ethnic cleansing by European colonists…

*North American Nakba Tour organizers call on Stanford SJP to retract its
false explanation and issue a public apology for their behavior to Ms.
Ashkar.* They have also asked concerned citizens to consider donating to
the Tour and attending
events in lieu of the cancellation. Paul Larudee
a Tour organizer, and Ms. Weir have separately authored
own accounts of the incident.

*Feel free to share this release.*

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