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Deena Gamil speaks at Trent IAW

by Zach Ruiter

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US drones killed six in Pakistan, a US Soldier massacred 16 Afghanistan civilians, Israeli air strikes killed 26 Palestinians, the website exposed, the online petition site, for cooperating with NATO in an international campaign to destabilize Libya and Syria, a viral marketing campaign called “Kony 2012” raised funds for “Invisible Children” and support for military intervention in Uganda as Obama and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu posed for photos on the White House Lawn.

The normalcy of these catastrophic events just within the second week of March can make things seem less serious than they are, yet at Trent University little could have detracted from the feeling of revolution in the air as the Peterborough Coalition for Palestinian Solidarity held its annual IAW Week.

IAW stands for Israeli Apartheid Week. Although many associate Apartheid exclusively with South Africa, the United Nation’s 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid allows for the inclusive use of ‘Apartheid’ as a sign of a set of circumstances in their own right.

IAW does not sit right with the host of Trent Radio’s ‘Thinking Outside the Politically Correct Box’, Dylan DeLeskie. The self-styled Anchor-man of Trent (think Jazz-Flute), claims “these people have multiple banners that say Star of David equals Swastika”.

Live on Trent Radio, DeLeskie asked “how is it not anti-Semitism and how is it not the most spineless and morally disgusting movement?”“Definitely not” said DeLeskie’s “Co-Anchorman”, Kelsey Powell, who repeatedly objected to DeLeskie’s “characterizing” of an entire movement.

With a little bit of research, if pointed, DeLeskie’s hateful and hasty generalization of IAW as anti-Semitic falls flat because of solidarity for Palestine from a growing number of Jewish people in diaspora.

Hedy Epstein, 86 year-old Holocaust survivor travelled with a flotilla to break the Israeli naval blockade in an attempt to deliver letters of support and aid to Palestine.

Jewish teenager, Rachel Corrie, who in defending Palestinian homes, was crushed to death by an Israeli Bulldozer.

Judith Butler, a presenter in last years Toronto IAW asked, “how can I fulfill my obligation as a Jew to speak out against an injustice when, in speaking out against the Israeli state and military injustice, I am accused of not being a good enough Jew or of being a self-hating Jew?”.

Epstein, Corrie, and Butler are not alone; groups such as ‘NION’ (Not-In-Our-Name) and ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ exist to challenge the actions of Israel. ‘Breaking the Silence’ is a group of former Israeli soldiers dedicated to exposing human rights abuses against Palestinians.

The IAW movement is properly mobile, having spread from a single university campus to over 100 cities, offering a rare space where people can hear first hand from presenters who are part of a network of messengers.These messengers not only reflect on the past and current situation but project a better future by radically reimagining the situation with the promise of revolution.

IAW 2012 brought the energy of the Egyptian Revolution to Trent, a crowd of more than forty students gathered in the Champlain Lecture Hall to hear Deena Gamil’s presentation, “Arab Spring, Apartheid Falls? The Egyptian Uprising and Possibilities for Palestinian Resistance”.Gamil is a journalist and revolutionary socialist who emerged as a leading voice for vigilantly writing and investigating the events of the uprisings in Tarir Square.

Gamil passionately told the audience about the important role of women leaders in the revolution. Gamil credits a sit-in outside government buildings as a major turning point towards revolution. Gamil recalled “I went to meet with them and I found out that the main leading organizers were females”.

Gamil added “you’re talking about ordinary females who had never been politically active before they were staying and sitting-in and organizing on the streets”.

For Gamil this signaled, “things are really changing and when people really start moving, females show their real potential”.

The project of Egypt’s revolutionaries, for Gamil, is strongly connected with the struggle against Israeli Apartheid: “we want to see borders open and we want something completely different than what is happening. We want to boycott Israel. This is how revolutionaries in Egypt see the future but we can’t do that because [The military government left behind by Mubarek is] still the controlling political forces”.

Gamil brought her experience as a revolutionary journalist to the students who asked about the role of anarchists in the revolution, and her opinion of military intervention, the occupy movement, and when the revolution would come to North America.

To get some perspective on organizing in the shadow of Stephen “defend Israel whatever the cost” Harper, I recently sat down with former Arthur writer, Syed Hussan. Hussan organizes in solidarity with Palestine as part of No One Is Illegal Toronto.  By forming “parallel structures” that go beyond “demand or lobbying”, according to Hussan, we can say “hey, we won’t let you enforce your laws. We’re trying to create a place where people can create their own systems, where they don’t have to demand it”. 

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Zach Ruiter (Zach Ruiter)
Peterborough, ON
Member since Décembre 2011

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