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October 18, 2002 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-10-18

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from page 23

Claiming that Israel was a racist,
apartheid state engaged in ethnic cleans-
ing from its inception, he said, "The
history of the conflict is not a compli-
cated or sophisticated story ... there are
colonizers and the colonized, apartheid
and the victims of apartheid."
Speaking of his role in the growing
European academic and economic boy-
cotts of Israel, Pappe got a standing ova-
tion for urging participants to "bypass
this evil American administration and
its evil policies in the Middle East."
Buttu, born and raised in Toronto of
Palestinian parents, said she was proud
to be at a conference with "such
esteemed guests." She described her
developing position from a supporter
of the peace process to a complete lack
of faith in Israel's desire for peace.
Buttu also shared her belief that the
purpose of the creation of [Israel] was
not about equality, but getting rid of
as many Christians and Muslims as
possible while holding onto as much
of their land as possible."
When asked whether the Palestinian
leadership that she works for has
betrayed the Palestinian cause by their
concessions to Israel, she deflected the
criticism warily.
"Let's be clear here. The Palestinian
leadership is not in a position of
power; they are in a position of weak-
ness. Are you going to do something
to change the position of weakness, or
point fingers because we are weak?"
Yulia Dernovsky, a U-M senior and co-
chair of the American Movement for
Israel (AMI), expressed disappointment
that "both Pappe and Butru never once
mentioned terrorism in Israel or suicide
bombings. They simply were attacking
Israel from every point possible."
For Dernovsky, the entire day "gave
one impression: that Israel is the most
evil state in the world and they would
be happy if Israel just disappeared. We
were hoping to hear the word 'peace'
at least once, but it never came up."


Anti-Israel Chants

As conference participants left the
building on Oct. 12, about 50 of
them surrounded Rabbi Avi Weiss,
president of the Council for Jewish
Concerns-Amcha, and five other pro-
Israel protesters who had come from
New York. The CJC-Amcha group
had stood all day outside the
Michigan League, draped in tallitot
and holding signs condemning anti-
While there had been some harass-

ment and mockery directed toward
the handful of Jewish protesters
throughout the day, things escalated
when the conference concluded. A
vocal group of conference participants
surrounded the New Yorkers, waving •
Palestinian flags and cheering as peo-
ple left the building. They led chants
of "Free Palestine," "End the occupa-
tion" and "Palestine will be free; from
the river to the sea."
Rabbi Weiss' group also reported
hearing chants in Arabic of "Kill the
Jews" and "With blood and fire, we will
liberate Palestine.". A tense half-hour
ended with no physical confrontation.

Policies Stay Put

Sunday was devoted to discussing the
"guiding principles" of the conference.
Developed at the Berkeley", Calif., con-
ference, the principles were a focal point
of the conference's critics because of
their blanket endorsement of Palestinian
"legitimate resistance," endorsement of
Zionism as racism, the call to end Israeli
presence on "occupied Arab land"
(which critics believed was meant to
refer to all of Israel), and implementa-
tion of the "right of return and repatria-
don for all Palestinian refuges to their
original homes and properties."
The grueling, daylong discussions
clearly tempered the enthusiasm from
the previous day. Though some pro-
grammatic decisions were made, such
as the date of the next conference and
plans for the next "Day of Action," no
substantive alterations to the original
document were made.
Intentionally or not, the fact that
the U-M organizing group SAFE han-
dled media relations for the event
served to obscure the consensus opin-
ion of the conference, which was to be
a shield for extremism.
For example, while SAFE told the
media that it condemned suicide
bombings and supported a two-state
solution to the conflict, the conference
wasn't prepared to make such a state-
ment. This was evident when SAFE
offered various proposals to moderate
the language of the "guiding princi-
ples," clearly explaining them as a pub-
lic-relations effort rather than an ideo-
logical shift, but conference partici-
pants roundly rejected their proposals.
With many attendees leaving to
return to their college campuses
Sunday evening, Oct. 13, the confer-
ence limped along until noon
Monday, Oct. 14, and then called it
quits, canceling the evening speaker.




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d _ dnesday, October 23, 10-6
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