Students Allied for Freedom and Equality host author

By Emilie Plesset, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 17, 2014

On Monday, Palestinian-American author Ali Abunimah spoke to students and community members during a stop in his nationwide tour to promote his new book, “The Battle for Justice in Palestine.”

In his book, Abunimah discusses his belief in a “one-state solution” to the Arab-Israeli conflict and his thoughts on the progression of the conflict. A one-state solution would create a binational state which would grant equal rights to Israelis and Palestinians, alike.

Abunimah is also the author of “One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” and co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, an online publication that follows the Arab-Israeli conflict from a Palestinian viewpoint.

“Writing this book was a learning process for me,” Abunimah said in his speech. “The struggle for justice in Palestine is inherently linked to the struggle for human rights everywhere.”

The event was co-hosted by the University's Students Allied for Freedom and Equality and the Ann Arbor chapter of the International Socialist Organization.

“He is a really clear-headed, unequivocal defender of Palestinian human rights,” said IOS member Joel Reinstein, co-organizer of the event. “He is a leading voice in the Palestinian solidarity movement in the United States.”

During his address, Abunimah praised SAFE’s controversial #UMMockEviction campaign earlier this year and discussed other possible actions for pro-Palestinian student organizations on other college campuses.

The University determined that the distribution of mock eviction notices in residence halls last semester violated Housing solicitation policy, and later sent an e-mail to housing residents explaining that the fliers were not sanctioned.

“I thought Ali Abunimah was able to relate what he was saying in his book back to divestment on this campus and these issues as it pertains to the University setting,”said LSA senior Farah Erzouki, SAFE co-chair. Erzouki has also contributed to The Michigan Daily's Michigan in Color opinion section.

Abunimah’s visit comes shortly before Tuesday’s Central Student Government vote to decide if the body should call on the University to divest from United Technologies, General Electric, Heidelberg Cement, and Caterpillar, companies which sell equipment to the Israeli military. The initiative aims to make the University part of the movement, which seeks to apply economic and political pressure on the Israeli government to end the military occupation and allow for the return of Palestinian refugees.

In December, University President Mary Sue Coleman and University Provost Martha Pollack said they opposed the American Studies Association’s vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

Though Abunimah advocates for a one-state solution to the conflict, SAFE and ISO do not hold a formal stance on a one or two-state solution.

LSA freshman Hannah Marcovitch said she was encouraged to attend the event by J Street, a student organization that supports social justice and a peaceful “two-state solution” — the implementation of two independent states — to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“I wanted to come to see someone who I might not necessarily agree with,” Marcovitch said. “I came just to see concretely what, not necessarily what the other side of the argument has to present, but to hear some more staunchly pro-Palestinian opinions.”

After Abunimah finished speaking about his book, the floor was opened for the audience to ask questions. When the event concluded, Abunimah signed and sold copies of his new book.

In addition to organizing speakers and promoting divestment initiatives on campus, SAFE also hosts educational workshops twice a month that discuss aim to build solidarity with Palestinians under occupation.