Palestinian Activists Evoke Occupy

Boycott from Within
Charlene Mortyn

A speaker discusses justice and equality for both Israeli and Palestinian peoples during "Boycott from Within: Israeli & American Voices Against Apartheid," held in the Taubman Building of the Harvard Kennedy School yesterday.

The Palestinian protest movement was framed within the context of the Arab Spring and the global Occupy movement at a Kennedy School discussion Monday night titled “Boycott from Within: American and Israeli Voices Against Apartheid.”

The event featured two speakers: Jeff Pickert, an American activist currently living in the West Bank, and Dalit Baum, an Israeli academic and activist.

“This is a really exciting time,” said Pickert. “As Americans, we’re finally getting involved with this global discussion.”

Pickert described “waves” of intensity within the history of Palestinian activism, suggesting that a recent lull may soon end with a re-energizing of the activist movement. “Right now in Palestine people are tired, but not asleep,” he said.

The audience, a mix of students, teachers, and activists  from within the Harvard community and beyond continued to debate long after the talk ended.

“Baum was fantastic,” said Leah C. Vincent, a master’s student at Lesley University. “She was articulate and composed, which you need to be to answer questions in this context.”

But not surprisingly for a discussion on the regional conflict, opinions differed among audience members.

Yoav B. G. Schaefer ’15 said the talk did not sufficiently recognize the complexity of the situation.

“Everything that tries to make (the conflict) black and white is a disservice to peace,” he said.

Jonah C. Steinberg, director of Harvard Hillel, said the talk did not make clear enough its “final causes.”

But he expressed support for attending these types of events.

“I think it’s important for people in general, and Jews in particular, to participate actively in discourse and learn as much as possible in order to figure out for themselves what they hope to happen and act accordingly.”

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