Every year, Palestine Awareness Week has some theme or focus. Two years ago, the week was co-hosted by IDEAS at UCLA and drew on the intersections between the U.S.-Mexico border here in our backyard and the apartheid wall in the West Bank. Last year, Palestine Awareness Week focused on the case for divestment and built student support for UCLA’s successful undergraduate student council resolution to divest from companies that profited off of the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.
This year, we want to build on that progress by focusing on the question of intersectionality. We aim to have insightful, thought-provoking, and powerful events which draw on the connections of oppressive systems and highlight the need for coalitions across identity groups. Our central focus is to emphasize the broad spectrum of resistances which occur within Palestine, by integrating narratives of Palestinian refugees, queer folks of Palestine, Israeli peace activists, and more. Inspired in part by the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, we hope that Palestine Awareness Week will provide the space for critical dialogue on the interconnectedness of power and oppression systems and allow us to build these much needed coalitions.
On Tuesday, we held a student run teach on about the ABCs of Palestine. Wednesday, we are pleased to host Israeli peace activist Miko Peled and outspoken author and journalist Max Blumenthal who will speak about their experiences and the ever growing movement in the Jewish community to advocate for a just solution to the Palestinian question. Thursday will draw attention to the personal histories and struggles of the people of Palestine through the daring research of Palestinian professors Ahlam Muhtaseb and Sa’ed Atshan. These stories will highlight the experiences of refugees expelled from Palestine in 1948, as well as discuss the politics of being queer in Palestine.
It is an unfortunate reality that few classes on campus talk about Palestine at all, and even fewer talk about Israeli and Jewish support for Palestine, queer liberation, or refugees. But these issues are crucial to a holistic understanding of the issue. Although many think that students at UCLA are here just to learn, PAW is an important example of how we can also serve as teachers, and show each other information that has yet to make it into our textbooks and classrooms.
Finally, at a time when the progressive community is increasingly supportive of Palestinian rights and freedom, we hope this week of events helps make the case that one cannot be progressive without supporting Palestinian freedom. This is why our events focus on explaining what is happening in Palestine and what we think needs to be done to support a just solution to the conflict. Therefore, we especially invite progressive students unfamiliar with these issues to learn why supporting the human rights of Palestinians is central to their ethic of supporting other progressive issues. We hope that the student body can come and engage, that individuals not familiar with the Palestinian cause can gain insightful knowledge, and that returning members can continue to understand various aspects of the Palestinian identity and narrative.