Third national ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ conference aims to build on victories of the past year

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Northeastern, Brooklyn College, Florida Atlantic, Oberlin, Stanford, University of California – Irvine, Berkeley, Davis, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Riverside, Irvine, and San Diego  – Over the past year universities have been at the center of Palestine solidarity organising. Gathering in October for the SJP-National conference will enable students to revitalise their energy, share experiences and prepare for the year long struggle ahead.

Over the past year, we have seen SJPs develop thoughtful campaigns that drew meaningful links to the struggles in their communities. We have seen SJPs turn knowledge and awareness into creative action, bringing to the forefront the ongoing injustices that Palestinians face, from home demolitions to the forced exile of millions, the Apartheid Wall to the routine imprisonment of Palestinians. With over 130 chapters across the US, SJPs are doing what mainstream media refuses to, bringing a narrative that captures the real consequences of Israeli policies to tens of thousands.

In direct reaction to the growing success of SJPs, the opposition has mounted well funded attacks to undermine and discredit our work. Compounded by the privatisation of education across the US which limits access to education and curtails academic freedom for students and professors, we witnessed threats to defund Brooklyn College for daring to host pro-boycott speakers.

Students at Florida Atlantic University were forced to sign civility statements & attend Anti-Defamation League (ADL) designed re-education classes.  In California, lawsuits and criminal charges have been brought against a slew of activists, and extraordinary efforts have been made to regulate and limit the bounds of discourse on campus and embolden the fight against BDS campaigns.

Despite these conditions, universities across the state ran eight divestment campaigns, winning majority votes in five of them and permanent victories in three universities. The pushback against student activism continues. The timely appointment of Janet Napolitano (who oversaw new records in deportations at the Department of Homeland Security) as the head of the UC regents in California is the foreshadow to the struggle ahead.

In October, hundreds of students from around the nation will meet for the 3rd NSJP conference at Stanford University. Titled ‘From Margin to Center: ‘Connecting Struggles, Forging a National Movement,’ this year’s conference will create the space for students to share organising skills, learn about the issues and history of Palestinian communities, draw connections to other indigenous and anti-racist struggles, and facilitate critical discussions on solidarity and accountability.

As a space that is organised by students and for students, to share experiences and learn, the NSJP conference serves to empower a new generation of activists devoted to seeking justice for Palestine. By increasing communication and coordination amongst SJPs, the NSJP conference is a momentous opportunity to come together, to facilitate the growth of the SJP network. With the help of hundreds of supporters, almost $20,000 in donations has gone towards subsidising the travel of over 150 students in the past two years, a priority for organisers to ensure students are able to attend despite financial limitations. This year, we want to bring 100 students to California and are asking for donations to help us achieve this goal.

 Student organising is incredibly important to the larger Palestine solidarity movement in the US. Invest in the future of this movement and donate.

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