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News :: Human Rights : International : Organizing : Palestine : Race
Over 150 Rally Against Northeastern's Double Standard: Silencing Students, Applauding Israeli Knesset Members
02 Apr 2014
Boston, MA - Tuesday night, over 150 students and local activists protested at Northeastern University with a strong message to the administration: Don't silence Students for Justice in Palestine and applaud the Israeli Knesset. The protest was sponsored by a coalition of 20 Boston-area organizations, and took place outside of a university-sponsored "town hall" meeting with six members of the Israeli Knesset. The rally followed a talk by author and activist Ali Abunimah, co-founder and director of the publication The Electronic Intifada.
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Earlier this month the Northeastern University administration suspended the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group following their distribution of mock "eviction notices" during the internationally-observed Israeli Apartheid Week. Northeastern has developed a track record of increasingly repressive treatment of SJP, and is one of a number of universities facing serious criticism for its denial of constitutionally-protected freedoms to student activists working to end the Israeli occupation.

The school has backed down from expelling two members of SJP who were singled out for disciplinary hearings. Instead, they have been assigned a 500 word-essay on the importance of adhering to school policies.

"While SJP welcomes this more lenient punishment, we are not satisfied," said Northeastern Law Student Max Geller. "The status of SJP as a group, the racial profiling that occurred during the investigation, and the pattern of silencing pro-Palestinian narratives remain unaddressed."

The Knesset members speaking included representatives from Habayit Hayehudi, or the "Jewish Home," a right wing political party. The Jewish Home party refers to Sudanese and Eritrean refugees as "infiltrators," threatening the "Jewish, demographic constitution of Israel," on their official web site.

"We called attention to the double standard of free speech at Northeastern University," said Liza Behrendt of co-sponsoring organization Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston. "SJP is silenced while the administration rolls out the red carpet and gives the spotlight to racist Knesset members."

Attendees heard speeches from co-sponsoring organizations, as well as a statement of support from Omar Barghouti, the Palestinian founder of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

"Resistance to apartheid and to racist oppression in Bilin, Jaffa and Gaza is echoed in and accentuated by the resistance to oppression at Northeastern," read Barghouti's statement. "Your struggle for Palestinian also a struggle for freedom and for protecting the First Amendment. Every decent US citizen who wishes to protect hard-won civil rights must join in your campaign against Northeastern's shameful, anachronistic repression."

Co-sponsors of the rally included Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine, International Socialist Organization - Boston, Jewish Voice for Peace - Boston, Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Community Church of Boston, Ed Childs (Chief Steward of UNITE HERE Local 26), Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee, Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights, Mary Beth Tinker (Plaintiff in landmark free speech case Tinker v. Des Moines), Suffolk Students for Justice in Palestine, National Lawyers Guild- Suffolk Law, Boston College Students for Justice in Palestine, United for Justice with Peace, National Lawyers Guild- Northeastern Law, Northeastern Palestine Underground, QueerUP (Queers Undermining Pink-washing), Team Solidarity- The Voice of the United School Bus Union Workers, Queers United in Radical Rethinking - Northeastern University School of Law, Students for Justice in Palestine - Northeastern University School of Law, and Black and Pink.
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