Flyers threaten eviction, raise awareness

Many students were surprised to wake up Wednesday to fliers warning that their suites would be demolished within three days.

Luckily, the eviction notices were not real. They were distributed by members of the group Students for Justice and Peace in Palestine to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians whose homes are being demolished by the Israeli government. Though two students interviewed who received fliers under their doors said they were not affected by the campaign, a member of the Yale Hillel board and the co-president of Yale Friends of Israel criticized the fliers for being “counterproductive” and disrespectful.

SJPP coordinator Omar Mumallah ’12 said in a press release that his organization aimed to startle Yalies and give them a sense of what evicted Palestinians must feel.

“I see no reason why the legitimate and well-documented grievances of Palestinians shouldn’t be a part of the discussion,” Mumallah said in a Thursday interview. “Every claim we made on the flier was predicated on reports by [Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch]. There is absolutely nothing hyperbolic about acknowledging the suffering incurred by a broken and discriminatory policy.”

Mumallah and other students in his organization, which also has chapters at other schools, including Georgetown and the University of Pittsburgh, passed the fliers under the doors of multiple colleges between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Tuesday, and the press release stated that hundreds of students had received the fliers.

The fliers’ headline told students that their suites would be demolished within three days — whether or not they chose to leave. In smaller print, the fliers explained that many Palestinians have faced a similar situation due to Israel’s settlement program in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The back of the fliers stated that the “eviction notices” were not meant to be an attack on Israel or Israelis, but rather on the actions of the Israeli state. The handouts also advertised upcoming events that SJPP will hold, promising discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian issue “beyond the spin and hyperbole” that often obscure it.

Students interviewed in two of Yale’s Jewish organizations were bothered by the fliers, and said the campaign did not bring anything to the discourse about the issue that they and others are trying to foster at Yale.

“We try to act constructively and respectfully on these issues, not divisively and hyperbolically,” said Josh Kalla ’13, Israel Chair on the Hillel Board.

Kalla noted that when the David Horowitz Center, a pro-settlement organization, published an incendiary full-page advertisement in the News, the Slifka Center also published a full-page advertisement, criticizing the Horowitz Center’s approach to the debate.

Steven Morales ’13, co-president of the pro-Israeli umbrella organization Yale Friends of Israel, said he has sometimes found SJPP unwillingly to engage in conversation.

“Our organization has tried in the past,” he said. “We’ve invited them to numerous events, and they’ve been generally unreceptive. There was one event that just would have been a dinner between the two boards and they rebuffed that offer.”

SJPP representative Jackie Outka ’12 said the flyers were meant to begin a discussion, not end one.

“As an activist group, SJPP seeks to use a bunch of different techniques to educate Yalies about the lives of Palestinians, from talks given by professors to movie screenings to advocacy initiatives like the fliers,” Outka told the News.

Outka added that several students have told her that the fliers made them more interested in joining SJPP.

Both students interviewed who received the fliers said they did not fully read them.

“I was really confused at first, but I think I understand why they did it,” Helen McCreary ’13 said. “None of us have had our house randomly destroyed by the government.”

She added that she thought the SJPP chose an odd method to portray the problem of settlement.

Other students simply threw the flyers out before reading them.

“I only read the very beginning of it and I just assumed it was a prank, like a Pundit thing, because obviously Yale isn’t going to demolish our rooms,” Ali Abarca ’13 said.

Tonight at 8 p.m., SJPP will screen the film “To Shoot an Elephant,” about Israeli military action in Gaza, in William L. Harkness Hall.

Comments

  • 2006alum

    It’s nice to see activism return to campus! These kids did a great job.

  • timemachinist

    As the Jewish settlers and their military occupation partners continue to fragment the territory left for a Palestinian state, they bring their whole country into the untenable position of denying Palestinians statehood and instead permanently policing them in the apartheid system of the occupied territories. No wonder the Palestinians are questioning the viability of a 2-state solution and many now instead seek one country of Arabs and Jews with equal rights for all. It beats the apartheid they now suffer. Of course those who want Israel to be a Jewish state find that threatening to their project, but they must realize they are forcing such solutions when they make a 2 state solution impossible.

    If the Jews want a viable Jewish state, they should work towards creation of a viable Palestinian state with whom they can get along. Push aside the Islamists on one side and the settlers on the other and find the reasonable people on both sides, before it is too late for a 2-state solution –or is it already too late?

  • nofunkymoose

    I thought these were the most effective fliers I’ve seen during my time at Yale. Really made me empathize with the Palestinian people. Great job!

  • tonykez

    There is only one solution to the middle-east turmoil. Both Muslims and Jews need to listen to Jesus’ word. Accept Jesus as your god and savior to receive the gift of Holy Spirit; Love and Peace! Love your Neighbors! Happy Easter

  • yale

    I am shocked that such one-sided attacks on Israel are just accepted by Yale students. If only people were more open to real dialogue about these issues

  • the_rivers_of_babylon

    It’s nice to see propaganda return to campus! These kids did a great job.

  • exposethedanger

    Very creative and a message to those who support Israeli tactics of persistent terrorism towards innocent indigenous peoples. I advocate peaceful and civil dialogue, as well as creative methods of making a point – this being one of them. This is what campuses are for – allowing students to take a stand for what is meaningful and important to them, regardless of opposing propaganda.

  • jnewsham

    I just read two people call for a dialogue and talk right past each other. I guess that’s because when the other person talks in a dialogue, it’s just propaganda, right?

  • dportyalestudent

    This is ineffective and a poor attempt at helping yale students realize the real issues that face the region.

  • lewa

    I’d like to hear a response from the Jewish student organizations that actually addresses the content of the fliers, rather than just calling them “hyperbolic”. I thought it was a creative and effective way of raising awareness about the issue. If there are factual inaccuracies, students who find them should speak up.

    Apart from the fact that the fliers are littered with comma splices, I thought they did a good job of grabbing students’ attention.

  • lewa

    Oops — just saw the new editorial about the fliers.