Meryl Yourish has posted a legal brief by some folks who were suing to shut down the "“Second National Student Conference on the Palestine Solidarity Movement" (Occam’s Toothbrush posted some quotes from the same document). A few comments:
I have no way of knowing if most of the document’s claims are true or not; it gives next-to-no verifiable information on where its facts come from (not even for such a basic question of where the list of speakers was announced).
I do agree that if the document’s claims about Sami Al-Arian, Hatem Bazian and Mahdi Bray are uncontroversially true, then inviting them was, in the most generous possible interpretation, the work of ignorant morons. What’s more likely is that the people who invited them are asshole anti-Semites, in which case the conference will do nothing but harm; harm to Jews, harm to Israelis, and harm to Palestinians.
However, in the two cases in which I was able to double-check the brief’s claims against reality, the brief was deceptive.
1) The brief says: "The University of Michigan, while officially claiming to be neutral and not endorsing the stated goals of the Conference, features a link to the Conference website on The University of Michigan’s official website, http://www.umich.edu, at: http://www.umich.edu/palestineconf.html#safety. Links to opposing organizations’/conferences’ websites are not listed on the official University of Michigan website."
2) The brief says this about two scheduled conference speakers.
Speakers at the Conference include Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf. In various articles, they praised "suicide operations" and "shaheed Allah" (martyrdom) as "noble." They support violence and oppose "adopting the methods of Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr." because "no other successful nonviolent movement was able to achieve what it did without a concurrent violent movement." (Palestine Chronicle, January 29, 2002.)
But in context, Shapiro and Arraf were advocating that suicide bombers should use "nonviolent direct action" instead of terrorism. From the article "Why Nonviolent Resistance is Important for the Palestinian Intifada":
In actuality, nonviolence is not enough. Rather, what is needed is nonviolent direct action against the occupation. This includes roadblock removal, boycotts, refusing to obey curfew orders, blocking roads, refusing to show ID cards or even burning them. Yes, the Israeli army and settlers will use violence. Yes, people will get killed and injured. They are now also. Hamas claims it has many men ready to be suicide bombers – we advocate that these men offer themselves as martyrs by standing on a settler road and blocking it from traffic. This is no less of a jihad. This is no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action, they would be considered shaheed Allah. But an action like this cannot happen once and it cannot be the only type of action. Large-scale, mass popular participation must be developed in order for a movement to have an effect.
Personally, I disagree with Shapiro and Arraf on many things, but that’s not the point. Shapiro and Arraf are arguing for less violence and in favor of nonviolent resistance; the brief used out-of-context quotes to give exactly the opposite impression. No matter what you think of Shapiro and Arraf, the way the brief quoted them was dishonest.
I think it’s quite possible, from what the brief says, that some of the conference’s organizers and speakers are anti-Semitic shitheads. But I can’t be certain, because the brief itself doesn’t seem trustworthy.
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