Pro-Israeli conference incites riots from Palestinian supporters

BY JENNIFER MISTHAL
Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 11, 2002

Twice yesterday, members of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality protested the Israel Under the Lens conference outside the Michigan League.

Paul Wong
Fadi Kiblawi, along with fellow protesters, acts as a soldier in a skit refusing admittance of a Palestinian ambulance, in front of the Michigan League during the "Israel Under the Lens" conference yesterday.<br><br>JOHN PRATT/Daily

Armed with cardboard machine guns and sirens, SAFE performed skits about Israel"s military checkpoints.

SAFE member Fadi Kiblawi said Palestinians are stopped at these checkpoints and Israeli soldiers check their papers, which can take up to three hours to bypass.

"People can get shot on sight if they take side routes (to avoid the checkpoints)," SAFE member Souzan Naser said.

"Palestinians are differentiated by different color license plates," Naser added.

Holding a megaphone, SAFE member Salah Husseini said the checkpoint illustration must be brought to people"s attention.

He also said the checkpoints were examples of racism.

Kiblawi called the rally a "big creative expression." He said he believed the conference attempted "ethnic cleansing through the mind."

Rackham student Amenah Ibrahim, who also participated in the protest, said the rally was designed to protest the conference"s keynote speaker, Israeli Air Force General Relik Shafir.

"This general was funded to our campus with our tuition money," Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim said she felt that earlier conference speakers had an objective viewpoint.

But she said after listening to one speaker discuss the war on terrorism, her "blood was boiling."

Still, Ibrahim said the conference was fair, despite a lack of Palestinian speakers.

LSA junior and conference planner David Post said the conference attempted to create an academic environment to discuss Israeli-Palestinian relations.

"We tried to put speakers with a wide variety of views. We tried to cover as many points of view as possible," Post said.

Engineering sophomore Maya Mandel disagreed with SAFE members, saying she felt the conference was objective.

"The conference presented other sides. People were really happy with what they heard," Mandel said.

LSA freshman Samuel Botsford said he felt the speakers tried to present both viewpoints.

"Bipartisan views were expressed. Most speakers presented both sides of the story efficiently," Botsford said.