Students For Justice in Palestine (SJP) spent months planning a week of programming—Justice For Palestine Week—which came to an end Wednesday night. 

The week’s activities began on Saturday, with a screening of the documentary “The Stones Cry Out,” which sheds light on the struggles of Palestinian Christians, who are a minority in predominantly Muslim Palestine. The filmmaker, Yasmine Perni, said that she found that people in the West are more likely to pay attention to others’ struggles if they are Christians as opposed to Muslims. 

Sunday, Tufts faculty member Thomas Abowd visited Bowdoin and gave a talk entitled “Gentrification and Urban Manifestations of Colonialism: Palestine to USA.” 

On Monday, members of the Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble visited and performed. One of the members had recently traveled to Palestine and shared letters written by Palestinian children. 
The club held a Skype conversation on Tuesday with a nurse working in the West Bank. The club also received and listened to a video message from a student in Gaza. 

On Wednesday, the club hosted a film screening of “Budrus,” a documentary about the non-violent resistance of a West Bank village.

SJP is a fully student-run organization, though it receives funding from the Student Activities Funding Committee.

Members of the group cited campus-wide awareness and education as their goals for the week, as well as for the club in general. 

“Mainstream media tends to be extremely biased in favor of Israel,” said Sinead Lamel ’15, a member of SJP. “Our government often speaks in a way that assumes total support and alliance with Israel. Even when people do criticize Israel, they do it in a narrative that ignores Palestinians.  We’re trying to bring out the voices of Palestinians.”

SJP is also hoping to attract students who may have never discussed, or even thought about, these ongoing issues.

“Everyone comes to the subject of Israel and Palestine from very different levels. It can be intimidating to talk to people who are very passionate about [these issues] because people might not feel like they know enough to have opinions about it,” said Christopher Wedeman, one of the founders of Bowdoin’s chapter of SJP. 

Encouraging discussing is another of the group’s goals.

“Part of the point of the week was to encourage people to come by their own volition so that they can make up their own mind and maybe debate [the issue] with their friends.”

During the summer of 2014, Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip left 2,200 Palestinians, including 521 children, dead. SJP honored these children by stringing up 521 red flags, each with a name of a child, across the first floor of Smith Union.

“We wanted to try to put numbers into perspective,” said Wedeman.

SJP is taking further action to bring attention to these issues on campus.

“There will hopefully be a vote on the ballot for the BSG elections asking the student body whether or not it wants to support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel,” said Wedeman.

SJP meets every Thursday at 9 p.m. next to the dance studio in the David Saul Smith Union. The petition is still being drafted but will be made public in the near future.