Sussex Friends of Palestine’s week ‘Palestine Awareness Week’ was a series of events taking place on campus aimed to draw attention to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Their aim was to raise the public profile on how the war affects Palestinians in their daily lives – something the recent launch of Israel’s “Operation Pillar of Defence” has once again brought to the forefront of discussion on the conflict.
They explained that the “situation in Israel & Palestine is very contentious, and it is therefore important to spread awareness, and encourage debate”.
Palestine Awareness Week began with a talk entitled ‘The False Peace Paradigm’ by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe.
In a crowded lecture theatre, Pappe gave a talk on what he considered to be “the failure of the two-state solution”, which included some strong statements including “The Zionists are the only ones who don’t believe in God, but still think God gave them Palestine.”
The question and answer session which followed proved equally stimulating, with questions ranging from whether a three-state solution was a plausible option, to why there are not many Jewish voices opposing Israeli policy.
The talk had a large impact on attendees, with one member of the audience commenting that: “If all Americans heard that analogy [between Israel and apartheid South Africa] I bet our support for an Israeli state would be quite different”.
Tuesday brought with it two new events. The first was a photo exhibition by Israeli photo-journalist Haim Schwarzenberg, depicting images of Palestinian protestors. Holly Vandyke, a 3rd year anthropology student said “It was thought-provoking, and brought home an issue which often seems really distant.”
There was also a talk by Sussex lecturer Michael Kearney on the “International Law and the Occupied Territories”.
The talk followed the impact and lack of international law in the Palestine-Israel conflict, and also discussed the problems surrounding enforcing international law.
Matt Cresser, a 2nd year law student and member of the Palestine Society described the talk as: “interesting, as it gave the background on the legal attempts by Palestine to gain recognition as a state. This was useful as I would like to work in international law and human rights.”
There were also two further events: a film screening of “Over the Wall” followed by a question and answer session with the director, as well as a night of Palestinian food, music and poetry from the likes of Spliff Richard.
Overall, the week was considered to be successful by participants from both nations. One contributor commented that “a variety of events had been used to highlight the complexities of the conflict, and has clearly opened up these issues to people who may not have informed about them previously. Overall, it was a big success”.
Alia Al Ghussain