As part of their ‘A World Without Walls’ week, Students for Justice in Palestine hosted Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian civil rights lawyer and activist, on Nov. 7 to speak about the standing wall in Israel, the effect it has on Palestinians, the historical and recent discrimination of Palestinians by the state of Israel.
“Many people on campus don’t know that there is an apartheid wall in Palestine,” said Mayssa Masri, the co-president of SJP. “The purpose of our events is to create dialogue about the Palestinian struggle.”
Thursday, Nov. 2 marked the 100-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the document where the British stated their support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine—causing around 700,000 civilians to flee to Palestine, Masri said.
Arraf said David-Ben Gurion—who is considered to be the founding father of Israel—said the mission was to make Palestine a Jewish state.
“He said in order to do this the state must always be at 80 percent and 20 percent with the 80 percent being Jewish,” she said. “But how are you going to get to that? You have to kill and expel the people who live there.”
Arraf discussed how laws created in Israel discriminate against those who are Palestinian in order to get them out so the Israeli state can be recognized as a Jewish state.
“Some laws are neutral at their face” she said. “But there are 65 laws that discriminate against non-Jewish people.”
“All of this is meant to hassle Palestinians in order to get them to leave,” Arraf said. The 1950 Law of Return grants any Jewish settler citizenship, which is in favor of the Jewish population, not the Palestinian.
“Palestinians who were driven out cannot go back, and could not get citizenship and they reluctantly gave citizenship to those who stayed,” she said. “But this could be easily taken away if one committed acts of what they call breach of loyalty towards the state.”
The construction of the apartheid wall in 1994 made it more difficult for Palestinians to access their land.
“They said the wall was built for security against terrorists, but if it was it would’ve been built on internationally-recognized borders,” said Arraf.
Arraf said the wall works as more of a barrier to keep Palestinians from accessing their land. It made it harder for Palestinians to access their land and their family who lived on the other side.
“It’s a hard process to get through the wall with very few security checkpoints that are open throughout the day. In some towns, they have trenches, roadblocks and gates to make it even harder for people to be able to leave their home,” she said.
Arraf said that while the wall is illegal, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that it is there for security reasons.
“The government creates laws in order to legalize their actions,” she said.
“Not a lot of people know that this is happening,” said Summer Baraka, a member of the SJP. “Professors tend to sweep it under the rug if it’s even brought up.”
“College campuses are at risk of losing public funding for bringing up the issue,” said Masri.
Masri said political figures like Hillary Clinton are opposed to such movements that advocate for Palestinians in Israel because of the United States’ historic ties to Israel.
SJP is going to have a mock apartheid wall from noon to 4 p.m. at Gullen Mall on Thursday, Nov. 9. They will also be hosting guest speaker Tariq Luthun on Nov. 15 to speak on the topic, “Reclaiming our Heritage: A History of the Erasure of Palestinian Culture” in ballroom A in the Student Center.