Report on Palestinians

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A pro-Palestinian protest Jan. 2, 2009, at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C.

A pro-Palestinian protest Jan. 2, 2009, at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C.


Two professors and a student will share images and information about the plight of Palestinians in Israel 5 p.m. Sept. 30 in Atwood Memorial Center Theater.

Presenting "Eyewitness Report from Palestine" will be Fouzi Slisli, associate professor of human relations and multicultural education; Nasrin Jewell, professor of economics at St. Catherine University, St. Paul; and Amber Michel, a fifth-year St. Cloud State student majoring in sociology.

In August, Michel traveled to Israel with Birthright Unplugged, a trip she calls "a life-changing experience."

"I returned even more committed to working in solidarity with the Palestinian people and am currently finalizing plans for a film festival in October to educate the community on the issue," said Michel.

Beginning in the 1880s, waves of Jewish immigration to Palestine produced armed conflict, including three major wars. The first of these wars, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, resulted in the birth of Israel and signaled the end of Palestine as a nation.

Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations on May 11, 1949. More than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homeland.

Wars in 1967 and 1973 resulted in the loss of more Palestinian land, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which are partially governed today by the Palestinian Authority.

While the United States maintains Israel as an ally, President Barack Obama has stated he supports a two-state solution to the conflict. Obama has also condemned expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan River.

In June, Obama addressed both peoples in major speech in Cairo, Egypt:

"For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security."

Birthright Unplugged is a Massachusetts-based non-profit that facilitates first-hand educational experiences among the Palestinians in Israel. The organization argues that "Israel has denied Palestinians the internationally recognized right of return for refugees, instead creating a “Law of Return” that extends citizenship benefits to any person of Jewish heritage, thereby excluding millions of Palestinians from living in the land in which they were born."

The Law of Return, enacted in 1950 by the Knesset, Israel's national legislature, was intended to deal with historic homelessness and persecution of Jews around the world, including the European Holocaust of 1933-45 in which 6 millions Jews perished.

- Jeff Wood


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