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

A.R. G amithrgupta at gmail.com
Thu Apr 14 00:46:39 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>. 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!


April 13, 2016 /  info at freepalestinemovement.org
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  /  Uncategorized


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.*

- Amith

On Sun, Apr 10, 2016 at 5:23 PM, A.R. G <amithrgupta at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> Basically, the organizers objected to Alison, her books, and her (generic)
> materials on refugee stuff at the talk. They demanded the books be removed,
> so they were. They falsely claimed they wanted Alison gone too, but she was
> never asked to leave so she didn't. The issue was between them and one of
> the speakers. The speaker agreed with Alison Weir and her materials that
> Israel's legitimacy was in question.
> Jeff may not realize it, but some SJPs are not anti-Zionist. Stanford SJP,
> for example, reaffirmed the right of Israelis to self-determination and
> tried to distance itself from the BDS movement in their divestment
> resolution. They also wrote the resolution as though the conflict started
> in 1967. I suspect the students were afraid that if they hosted a
> Palestinian refugee that took stronger positions, it would undermine the
> BDS ceiling that they had set for themselves. Jeff is correct that they
> have never publicly stated their position on whether or not Israel has the
> right to exist; the issue was that they organized and then cancelled the
> right of Amena to do exactly that.
> In any case, Amena apparently cancelled the talk because they asked her
> not to voice her stronger views. The only reason Alison was at issue is
> because it was Alison and/or her materials that brought the issue up at
> all. When Amena said she agreed with Alison on the matter, which has
> nothing to do with anti-Semitism, the talk was cancelled. They are trying
> to pin it on Alison because screaming anti-Semitism loudly is more
> attractive than admitting you just silenced a Palestinian refugee from
> Lebanon because she does not see the regime that dispossessed her as
> legitimate. I'm going to try to reach out to Amena today and get a
> statement from her, if Jeff and others don't want to believe that then
> we're at an impasse.
> - Amith
> On Sun, Apr 10, 2016 at 5:06 PM, Andrew Pollack <acpollack2 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> It appears the Paul whom Alison mentions is Paul Larudee, a manic
>> pro-Assad organizer.
>> On Sun, Apr 10, 2016 at 4:31 PM, A.R. G via Marxism <
>> marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:
>>> ********************  POSTING RULES & NOTES  ********************
>>> #1 YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
>>> #2 This mail-list, like most, is publicly & permanently archived.
>>> #3 Subscribe and post under an alias if #2 is a concern.
>>> *****************************************************************
>>> Hi Jeff,
>>> Given that you generally ignore evidence related to this issue, I don't
>>> think it would matter, but as for everyone else, yes I am speaking with
>>> the
>>> Nakba survivor on the tour and we'll probably be releasing some
>>> statements
>>> in their own words about what happened. Stanford SJP is lying out their
>>> ass.
>>> On Sunday, April 10, 2016, Jeff via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu
>>> >
>>> wrote:
>>> > ********************  POSTING RULES & NOTES  ********************
>>> > #1 YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
>>> > #2 This mail-list, like most, is publicly & permanently archived.
>>> > #3 Subscribe and post under an alias if #2 is a concern.
>>> > *****************************************************************
>>> >
>>> > At 20:00 09-04-16 -0400, A.R. G via Marxism wrote:
>>> > >
>>> > >SJP shut down an event featuring an 85-year-old Nakba Survivor, one
>>> of two
>>> > >people who have spent their entire lives in a refugee camp in
>>> Lebanon. Now
>>> > >they are claiming -- falsely -- because Alison Weir (remember her
>>> > ><
>>> >
>>> https://louisproyect.org/2015/06/25/the-jewish-voice-for-peace-attack-on-alison-weir-jvp-loses-its-balance-2/
>>> > >?)
>>> > >was in the audience.
>>> > >
>>> >
>>> > On the face of it, stopping a Palestinian survivor from speaking on the
>>> > basis of that person's views is inexcusable. However Amith has
>>> presented no
>>> > evidence that:
>>> >
>>> > >Stanford SJP is lying. It had nothing to do with Alison Weir and
>>> > everything
>>> > >to do with the fact that one of the speakers wanted to question
>>> Israel's
>>> > >right to exist as a regime
>>> >
>>> > If Amith has some evidence to that effect, he hasn't shared it with
>>> us. I
>>> > went to the website of SJP Stanford and found nothing to the effect
>>> that
>>> > they supported  "Israel's right to exist as a regime" let alone that
>>> they
>>> > would prevent a Palestinian from speaking who did challenge that
>>> non-right.
>>> >      https://sjp.stanford.edu/about/
>>> >
>>> > So we've only heard one side of this story, from the single link Amith
>>> gave
>>> > us to the statement of the Free Palestine Movement which itself doesn't
>>> > make
>>> > any accusation as outrageous as Amith has made ostensibly on their
>>> behalf.
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >
>>> http://freepalestinemovement.org/2016/04/07/why-was-the-nakba-tour-canceled-at-stanford/
>>> >
>>> > Having heard one side regarding this incident, I suspect that a more
>>> > thorough report of this matter would reveal otherwise. I would suspect
>>> (but
>>> > granted, can't say for sure) that it DID have everything to do with
>>> Alison
>>> > Weir and her right-wing backers through which she is (at the very
>>> least)
>>> > connected to antisemitism. It is not at all unusual for antisemites to
>>> be
>>> > excluded from a pro-Palestinian event for the very reasons we have
>>> > discussed
>>> > previously and which I don't think are controversial (at least among
>>> > leftists).
>>> >
>>> > In that regard, I can only note that SJP has been involved in a
>>> struggle to
>>> > defend its legitimacy within the University of California system (which
>>> > doesn't formally include Stanford) on the very basis of their
>>> anti-zionism
>>> > being a form of antisemitism:
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >
>>> http://sjpwest.org/2016/03/27/sjp-west-relieved-that-uc-regents-affirmed-legitimacy-of-anti-zionism-looks-forward-to-continuing-to-grow-movement-for-palestinian-rights/
>>> >
>>> > So, again making an educated guess, it might be that the domination of
>>> an
>>> > event (at least in terms of the literature available there) by a
>>> right-wing
>>> > organization connected to antisemitism would have undercut that very
>>> > campaign for legitimacy undertaken by SJP. The SJP, like most
>>> Palestinian
>>> > organizations, has nothing to do with antisemitism and struggles
>>> against
>>> > the
>>> > use of the charge of antisemitism to attack and discredit the
>>> Palestinian's
>>> > struggle for liberation.
>>> >
>>> > If Amith has any actual evidence to his claim or can refute what I have
>>> > written I suspect to be true, then I await his reply. However I have no
>>> > interest in rehashing the formalistic claims by Alison Weir to oppose
>>> > antisemitism, let alone the notion that her right-wing organization
>>> doesn't
>>> > accept and embrace antisemites.
>>> >
>>> > - Jeff
>>> >
>>> >
>>> > >
>>> > >
>>> >
>>> http://freepalestinemovement.org/2016/04/07/why-was-the-nakba-tour-canceled-at-stanford/
>>> > >
>>> > >Alison Weir had nothing to do with the event...
>>> > >
>>> > _________________________________________________________
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>>> > Set your options at:
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>>> >
>>> --
>>> - Amith
>>> _________________________________________________________
>>> Full posting guidelines at: http://www.marxmail.org/sub.htm
>>> Set your options at:
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