Palestine Solidarity Committee hosts Israeli Apartheid Week to raise awareness of Palestinian struggle

Bharath Lavendra

The Palestine Solidarity Committee hosted its third annual Israeli Apartheid Week this week, as a part of the international movement to bring awareness to Palestinian liberation struggles in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The week coincided with the Israel Block Party hosted by Texas Hillel and Texans for Israel. About 25 members of the PSC protested the block party on the East Mall. The PSC also holds other events as part of the week, such as a panel discussion on intercommunal solidarity on Tuesday and a mock checkpoint and performance night on Thursday. 

English junior Josephine Lawson, who volunteered and spoke at the protest, said the week is designed to raise awareness on campus of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“[The week] is a series of events that are dedicated to telling the story of Palestinians under occupation. We seek to draw attention to the humans rights violations that the Israeli government commits against Palestinian people,” Lawson said. “We seek to shift the discourse in the United States away from a prominently pro-Israel narrative that completely erases the violence that Israel and the United States have carried out against the Palestinians.”

Lawson said the PSC was protesting the Israel Block Party not because of its celebration of Israeli culture but because of its inclusion of booths dedicated to the Israeli Defense Forces, Israel’s military and an image of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, which attendees of the event could take a picture with.

Government sophomore Jenna Conwisar, co-chair of the Israel Block Party, said the event is often criticized for the IDF booth and others, but she would argue that the booths could be considered part of Israeli culture. 

“Israel Block Party is meant to celebrate Israeli culture [but also] Israel and our general love for Israel … and how we get involved,” Conwisar said. “We aren’t hiding that, we’re proud of it.”

Ahmed Khawaja, electrical and computer engineering graduate student, said for a conversation to occur between PSC and TFI, TFI would have to acknowledge “ethnic cleansing” experienced by Palestinians and acknowledge Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

“If you are Arab in the West Bank, you are subject to Israeli military law,” Khawaja said. “If you’re a brown Arab in Israel, and you throw a rock, you can spend twenty years in Israeli prison, … and they can hold you for up to six months without providing any evidence because the evidence is considered ‘secret.’”