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Students post eviction notices at U of Michigan dorms, draw attention to Palestinian plight

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Mock eviction notice posted on student dorm rooms at the University of Michigan. (Photo: @krisstinaa_xo/Twitter)

Mock eviction notice posted on student dorm rooms at the University of Michigan. (Photo: @krisstinaa_xo/Twitter)

On Tuesday morning, December 10, approximately 1,500 students woke up to mock eviction notices in six University of Michigan residential dormitories.

Inspired by the Rutgers-New Brunswick chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, members of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) dispersed the notices in the early morning in order to have students momentarily experience the feeling of receiving an eviction notice upon waking up — a feeling that thousands of indigenous Palestinians have had to face under Israeli occupation.

Although it is impossible to recreate the emotions Palestinians experience from forcible internal displacement and exile, the purpose of this action was to raise much-needed awareness regarding the ongoing forcible expulsion of indigenous Palestinians from their land to clear the way for the construction of illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied territories.

The mock eviction action was simultaneously coupled with a Twitter campaign using the hashtag#UMMockEviction, which was soon trending worldwide. Students tweeted their reactions:

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University Housing issued an apology to dormitory residents who felt targeted or intimidated by the action and encouraged them to find supportive spaces.

However, SAFE organizers point out that University Housing fails to create an open space for students who are connected to the issue or who have had family members internally displaced in Palestine or ethnically cleansed from their land.

On Tuesday evening, Hillel, the foundation for Jewish campus life, held meetings to address the concerns of students who felt targeted or triggered by the mock eviction notices. Some students reported the evictions as a “bias incident”, moving attention away from violent displacements to privileged voices.

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Palestinians and allies responded to such tweets about the lack of accountability by University Housing and student remarks claiming the action to be offensive:

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SAFE members also met racist and violent reactions from students on campus and on social media:

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Fliers calling for an end to Israel’s Prawer Plan with images of the honorable late Nelson Mandela were torn down in a University building following the action. The Prawer Plan is a discriminatory development plan that, if implemented, will displace up to 70,000 Arab Bedouins in the Naqab (Negev) desert in southern Israel.

Although SAFE organizers faced hateful backlash from pro-Israel students on campus, SAFE’s action found overwhelming support from allies, especially among students of color and radical groups on campus.

Groups such as INCITE, Anonymous, Black Student Union, Coalition for Queer People of Color, Border Collective, and the Student Union of Michigan all stood in solidarity with SAFE and its goal of holding the University accountable for its role in the continuing oppression of Palestinians.

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SAFE demands that the University of Michigan divest from corporations that support the Israeli occupation and its subsequent displacement of Palestinians, like Northrop Grumman, Caterpillar, Inc., Hewlett-Packard, Heidelberg Cement, and Raytheon. In 2011, SAFE called for the University to divest from such companies, a call that went unanswered. However, SAFE continues to discuss Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions through initiatives like the mock eviction and other work around Palestinian solidarity.

-Students Allied for Freedom and Equality

This post was originally published at Sixteen Minutes to Palestine on December 11, 2013.

Students Allied for Freedom and Equality
About Students Allied for Freedom and Equality

Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) is a Palestine solidarity organization at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor that seeks to advance the causes of freedom, justice, human rights and equality for all peoples.

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8 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    December 12, 2013, 2:21 pm

    On the whole, decent responses. After all, until the last line or so, the Notice looked REAL.

    You wrote: “Some students reported the evictions as a “bias incident”, moving attention away from violent displacements to privileged voices.”

    This is a perfect “take” (unless, and I assume the opposite, the notices were unreasonably aimed at known-to-be-Jewish students).

  2. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    December 12, 2013, 2:26 pm

    At a more global level, perhaps we should learn from these (Zionist) student comments. News media are supposed (by some) to have a job, often described as “Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.”

    If the NYT, NPR, and other American MSM refuse to cover the evil doings of the occupation, maybe all they are doing (in this refusal) is refusing to “afflict the comfortable”. Sure Israel is bad, horrible, awful, but don’t rub our (privileged) noses in it! Censor the news instead!

  3. December 12, 2013, 2:33 pm

    even though i’m certainly ,as i was way back in college, for the palestinians side(i still remember drawing in black ink on a white wall in my library a sketch of yasir arafat) and i’m definitely for this action at michigan, i’m still glad i’m not back in college.
    seeing the israeli lovers at michigan here totally evade the issues of aparteid and all the oppressive actions israel does, and listeing to the calls for killing arabs, i can’t bare to think in what used to be my beautiful country that this age old war between jews and arabs is being brought to my home. it’s like getting cancer.
    judging by this as a micricosm, the two sides will be inextricably torn apart. i just wish they would get the hell out of america,quit dictating and manipulating us,keep their problems to themselves, and settle their own affairs but it’s way too late for that.
    after studying this situation for over 40 years, i see nothing but catastrophe on the horizon.
    england is the one here who could’ve prevented this. they gave the irgun and the jewish militants way too much power. they should’ve cracked down big time after all their officers were killed after the menachem begin mastered-minded king david hotel bombing. but they turned tail and dumped it all on the UN.
    so here we are

    • American
      American
      December 12, 2013, 7:47 pm

      ”england is the one here who could’ve prevented this. they gave the irgun and the jewish militants way too much power. they should’ve cracked down big time after all their officers were killed after the menachem begin mastered-minded king david hotel bombing. but they turned tail and dumped it all on the UN.
      so here we are”…..truthhurts

      True.

  4. ritzl
    ritzl
    December 12, 2013, 3:24 pm

    The use of the word “triggering” instead of “targeting” is a clear backpedaling by opponents of these awareness actions. Progress.

    Way to go, SAFE!

  5. Blaine Coleman
    Blaine Coleman
    December 12, 2013, 4:26 pm

    Thank you for the fine article. How wonderful to see this:

    “SAFE demands that the University of Michigan divest from corporations that support the Israeli occupation and its subsequent displacement of Palestinians…”

    This demand will free Palestine.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    December 12, 2013, 5:09 pm

    RE: “[M]embers of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) dispersed the notices in the early morning in order to have students momentarily experience the feeling of receiving an eviction notice upon waking up — a feeling that thousands of indigenous Palestinians have had to face under Israeli occupation.”

    MY COMMENT: So the Palestinians are kept wondering, wondering, wondering whether they will be evicted. That’s the way the Israeli’s want it.
    The idea behind “maintained uncertainty”* is to keep ’em guessing! That induces in the Palestinians a sense of “permanent temporariness”.
    It is also an excellent way for Israel to imbue Palestinians with a sense of “learned helplessness”.**

    * FROM ALISTAIR CROOKE, London Review of Books, 03/03/11:

    [EXCERPTS] . . . It was [Ariel] Sharon who pioneered the philosophy of ‘maintained uncertainty’ that repeatedly extended and then limited the space in which Palestinians could operate by means of an unpredictable combination of changing and selectively enforced regulations, and the dissection of space by settlements, roads Palestinians were not allowed to use and continually shifting borders. All of this was intended to induce in the Palestinians a sense of permanent temporariness. . .
    . . . It suits Israel to have a ‘state’ without borders so that it can keep negotiating about borders, and count on the resulting uncertainty to maintain acquiescence. . .

    SOURCE – http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n05/alastair-crooke/permanent-temporariness

    ** FROM WIKIPEDIA [Learned helplessness]:

    [EXCERPT] Learned helplessness is the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond even though there are opportunities for it to help itself by avoiding unpleasant circumstances or by gaining positive rewards. Learned helplessness theory is the view that clinical depression and related mental illnesses may result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation.[1] Organisms which have been ineffective and less sensitive in determining the consequences of their behavior are defined as having acquired learned helplessness.[2]
    The American psychologist Martin Seligman’s foundational experiments and theory of learned helplessness began at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967, as an extension of his interest in depression. Quite by accident, Seligman and colleagues discovered that the conditioning of dogs led to outcomes that opposed the predictions of B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism, then a leading psychological theory.[3][4]

    Experiment
    Summary
    In the learned helplessness experiment an animal is repeatedly hurt by an adverse stimulus which it cannot escape.
    Eventually the animal will stop trying to avoid the pain and behave as if it is utterly helpless to change the situation.
    Finally, when opportunities to escape are presented, this learned helplessness prevents any action. The only coping mechanism the animal uses is to be stoical and put up with the discomfort, not expending energy getting worked up about the adverse stimulus. . .

    SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness

  7. annie
    annie
    December 12, 2013, 10:20 pm

    great action!

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