Noura Erekat, Palestinian lawyer, professor and activist, and Nada Elia, Palestinian scholar and member of USACBI’s organizing collective, spoke at the University of Toronto on 12 January at an event organized by the University of Toronto Divestment campaign.
The event came under attack by right-wing Zionist organizations, in particular the Jewish Defense League (JDL). Elia wrote at Middle East Eye about the JDL’s attempt to shut down the event:
On 12 January, I was invited to speak, along with Noura Erakat, at the University of Toronto. We are both Palestinian scholar-activists with a long-standing commitment to non-violent resistance and BDS organising…
Clearly alarmed at the prospect of having two seasoned speakers discuss ways to help end Israel”s violations of international law, the Jewish Defence League (JDL), which last year shut down a similar event organised by the same students, was hoping to disrupt, and ultimately lead to the cancellation of our panel. The JDL created a Facebook page inviting people to voice their opposition to what they claimed would be “calls for the murder of Jews”.
Why is the Jewish Defence League so afraid of two Palestinian scholars that they try to shut us down or drown us out, rather than listen to what we have to present? Why do Zionists and Israel’s apologists disrupt lectures on BDS, a non-violent strategy, and not “peace talks” or “the peace process?”…
Interestingly, the JDL event page has the JDL claiming that they successfully shut down the event. That claim is clearly delusional: both speakers spoke at length and we have ample footage to document that.
Moreover, the audience left the rooms with an increased awareness of the irrational behaviour of Israel apologists and their resort to utterly baseless and ultimately futile accusations and attempts at character assassination.
Videos of the event, produced by LeftStreamed, are now available:
A new generation of Palestinians is marching on the footsteps of previous generations, rising up against Israel”s brutal, decades-old system of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have joined demonstrations taking place in dozens of cities across historic Palestine and in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab countries. Palestinians continue to struggle for their fundamental rights of freedom, self-determination, equality, and a right to return. As the resistance on the ground intensifies, university campuses remain central to building on the Palestinian solidarity movement. The call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) has recently made tremendous gains, in particular on university campuses and academic institutions. Both the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the National Women”s Studies Association (NWSA) recently passed BDS resolutions, with an overwhelming majority.
- Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and activist. As of Fall 2014, she is an Assistant Professor at George Mason University. She has taught international human rights law in the Middle East at Georgetown University since Spring 2009. Noura is a Co-Editor of Jadaliyya. Most recently she served as Legal Counsel for the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the House of Representatives. Prior to her time on Capitol Hill, Noura received a New Voices Fellowship to work as the national grassroots organizer and legal advocate at the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation where she helped seed BDS campaigns nationally as well as support the cases brought against two former Israeli officials in U.S. federal courts for alleged war crimes.
- Nada Elia is a diaspora Palestinian, born in Baghdad, Iraq, and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Nada currently teaches Global and Gender Studies at Antioch University-Seattle, where she coordinates the Global Studies area of concentration. Nada is a member of the Organizing Committee of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and has spoken around the country about academic boycott as a means to achieve the currently non-existent academic freedom in the U.S., Israel, and Palestine.