Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pass the Popcorn: Stanford SJP cancels Nakba tour because of Alison Weir's participation

Paul Larudee has friends in all the wrong places. He's hobnobbed with Hamas and Hezbollah leaders. He sat cheering in the audience while fellow flotidiot Ken O'Keefe regaled the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists with fake Talmud quotes and blood libel. And he is a vocal supporter and promoter of white supremacist Alison Weir.

According to Paul,  Stanford Students for Just Us in Palestine cancelled a presentation on the so-called Nakba at the eleventh hour because of Alison Weir's participation. The talk was arranged by the Free Palestine Movement, the ISM – Northern California and the al-Awda Palestine right to Return Coalition. 

Yep. Alison Weir is so caustic, so toxic, she's been rejected by SJP.  Ponder that, and pass the popcorn.

From Paul

Last night, Mariam Fathalla and Amena Elashkar were scheduled to speak at Stanford University, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine. The previous day, I had asked Alison Weir, who has been giving talks on Palestine for 15 years all over the country, to meet with Amena and give her advice on reaching American audiences since this is Amena's first trip to the U.S. It was an excellent, fruitful meeting. 
I then said it would be valuable if Alison could hear Amena's presentation to see if she would have any suggestions. Alison is extremely busy but agreed to come down to Stanford with us for that purpose.
When Alison learned we did not yet have any written materials along to provide the audience, she brought some along with her for us to use and also gave us some of her books that we could sell to help raise money for the tour. We had already discussed that IAK would supply their excellent written materials for the tour.
We had no idea that Alison would turn out to be an issue, or that some members of the Stanford SJP would object to what Amena might wish to say.  We view Alison as an extremely committed and popular antiracist writer, speaker, and activist, and people even follow her work in refugee camps in Lebanon.  We know that some groups oppose her and If Americans Knew, but we also think that most do not, and that in any case this should not be an issue in the Nakba Tour.  Alison, however, is not not one of the national organizers of the tour, and she was not intended to be one of the speakers or to have any role in the presentation at Stanford. She was simply there as a favor to us, as described above.
However, some members of the SJP immediately objected to Alison's presence, perhaps assuming she was going to speak, and also to the presence of her book and the If Americans Knew materials. We immediately explained that Alison was not to be a speaker and was just there to sit in the audience and that we had invited her to come with us. We also agreed to remove the books, but said we were disturbed that they also wished to censor the materials we could make available on our own tour. In all my years of activism, I've never heard of such a thing.

Amena then began discussing the situation with the students, and was extremely upset when they told her that she could not speak truthfully about her feelings and the feelings of the thousands of dispossessed Palestinian refugees living in camps about their situation, about the Nakba, and about whether or not Israel has "the right to exist" that Israel partisans claim.  This was not an issue at the two previous talks.

When it became clear that they wished Amena to censor her excellent talk, she refused to do so and the event was canceled. 

We think it is extremely important that people hear from Amena and Mariam. They represent millions of Palestinian refugees whose rights and views have been trampled upon and who are often ignored. Thank you for helping us bring their voice to the discussion. It is long past time that they are heard.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Paul Larudee, Tour Coordinator


Stanford SJP responds,via their Facebook page

On Wednesday April 7, Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine decided to cancel our event “The Exiled Palestinians.” This was due to the presence of Alison Weir, who has openly expressed anti-Semitic sentiments. Although she was not invited, Ms. Weir came to our event with the purpose of selling copies of her book and distributing materials promoting her personal website. When asked to remove her materials, she eventually removed her books but left other materials advertising her website. We expressed our discomfort with her materials as well as her presence at our event given that she claimed to be associated with the event, but she refused to leave....

We are sorry that we could not host this event as an opportunity to hear Palestinian voices, however we remain committed to making sure that our spaces do not play host to individuals who advance white supremacist discourses.

In the  "Comments" section, local anti-Israel activist Jane Jewell blames this little family spat on (wait for it....) the "Zionists", writing:

Don't be too hard on the Stanford students. They are clearly being used. They are young adults, with their whole lives ahead of them, looking for a good job when they leave university to start them off on their careers. Many Zionists have a lot of money and power when it comes to helping students get on the first rung of their career ladder. In fact, Alison Weir's book, Against Our Better Judgment, describes their colossal influence in this country. At all costs, students must not be given the opportunity to read this outstanding little book. I would not be at all surprised if one of them was approached by some behind the scenes Zionist with a comment like, "you are looking for a job in law when you leave here, isn't that right? You don't want to be associating with people like Weir, or your chances may not be so good."

In fact, I would put my money on it. Otherwise, why else would an organisation supposed to be supporting Palestine, cancel speakers about the Nakba? It would be like a Jewish organisation refusing to have a holocaust survivor speak. 

This is the only explanation of why the students, supposedly for Justice in Palestine, would cancel a speaker on the Nakba.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy Eternal Nakba to Fascist Paul Larudee!