This past weekend I went to Washington D.C., for the Palestine Solidarity Conference at Georgetown. I went with S.A.F.E., Students Allied for Freedom and Equality. I'm really glad I went. I got to know these people better, and now I'm much more into the whole issue. This is also probably because I've been seeing these SAFE kids a lot.
The conference was pretty big. There are reports of 600 attendees, it didn't seem that much but maybe I'm wrong. I wasn't expecting security - I'm very naive. I went wearing a metal belt. I've done this at the airport too, I'm just thick in with those sorts of things. Anyway, the security thing, and the amount of it, really threw me off. They had checkpoints. I didn't think that maybe the security was there for people "on the other side", I just thought they had security because it was a Palestine conference. Anyway, we went to the panel, and then these elder Zionists, who liked to talk very loud, shout, yell, and walk around displaying themselves, disrupted the whole thing. One of them really pissed me off, because he kept saying "fuck Saudi Arabia" (I don't know why) and just swearing a lot, very loudly. And 2 others were just yelling so much, and being so rude. Anyway, they clearly took all the attention, as they intended, and really infuriated me.
I was really pissed off at them.
This will have to be finished later, after my midterm probably.
Alright anyway, let me get back on point and finish this up. My point is that these ADULTS disrupted the conference and thank God they were thrown out. Props to Georgetown, for not only holding this conference, but for not being afraid to kick out these disrupters.
Anyway after that I was really pissed off that those people did that, but I realized that that was nothing compared to what goes on in Palestine, so I let go and tried my best to focus on the conference. I went to this media workshop and said that on a ratio of 14:1 pretty much, that's how much American newspapers report Israeli deaths compared to Palestinian deaths, when the death rate is actually 40:1 or something like that, Palestinians to Israelis. Which is really really sad, and is why people don't get what's going on. If the reporting was accurate, I can definitely think of at least a few people that I know personally, whose eyes would open up.
So that was that workshop. Then there was one on booting Caterpillar out, which I honestly didn't pay much attention to. In that same workshop was stuff about divestment. I then went to a workshop about Muslim Outreach, but honestly, it was just people raising their hand and saying their thoughts, and I got pretty much nothing out of it. Except that students in Students for Justice in Palestine at G-town are also in Muslim Student Association, the VP of the MSA was doing the workshop and stuff. When will that be the case at Michigan? So I thought that stuff was interesting. And it seems like, from the people that were in the room, that the college kids around DC are more political and stuff (maybe its because of the area).
Went to this Arts and Activism workshop, something I could really relate to. As I've said, a lot of the time I feel very intimidated around activist and/or intellectual people. With arty stuff I feel more comfortable. This was hosted by the Iron Sheik, Will Youmans, who does a good job of hosting. I missed the beginning because I wandered around Georgetown a bit by myself, then I walked in and sat in the front. Basically, what I got out of this was that artists and activists (and this was one of my ideas) should really reach out to each other and connect and be best friends, and people who are both should reach out to both sides and bring them together. And that who cares if there's a mural about Palestine and a Zionist comes by and spits on it, we need to get our voices out. If we produce art and it makes people pissed off, then that is good because then we are getting a reaction, to say the least.
So the conference was really good, I'm glad I went. The keynote speaker at the end was a founder of electronicintifada.net, Ali Abunimah. Man he was amazing. He talked about South Africa, and his answers to questions at the end were spot-on. After his speech I looked at the pictures that were up around the room, I took pictures of these pictures and maybe one day I'll post them up on here. Check out Banksy (google him).
On a sidenote, me and my gal pals were distracted throughout that day by pretty sights. In one workshop I found it very hard to focus. If they read this, they will remember my comment that I made later that night.
The next day we left DC and weren't able to go back to the conference, and it was a long ride back.