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Students for Justice in Palestine receive legal assistance after mock apartheid wall removal

The+mock+apartheid+wall+before+it+was+removed.+Photo+via+https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FSJPatMU%2F
The mock apartheid wall before it was removed. Photo via https://www.facebook.com/SJPatMU/

The mock apartheid wall before it was removed. Photo via https://www.facebook.com/SJPatMU/

The mock apartheid wall before it was removed. Photo via https://www.facebook.com/SJPatMU/

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Students for Justice in Palestine pursued legal advice after the university removed its mock apartheid wall from the Alumni Memorial Union’s second floor on Feb. 21.

The group sought advice from Palestine Legal, a national organization committed to protecting freedom of speech for groups that speak out for Palestinian freedom. Palestine Legal electronically published a letter, addressed to Dean of Students Stephanie Quade, that was sent via email on March 3.

The statement summarizes the events surrounding the removal of the wall, argues SJP followed the rules to get policies approved and states the belief that the Office of Student Development’s removal of the wall is an encroachment on students’ free speech.

Julie West, the coordinator for leadership programs and student involvement in the OSD, was first to contact SJP after the wall was removed.

The statement addressed to Quade read, “Of significant concern is the fact that Ms. West consulted with individuals and groups known to be hostile to SJP’s views, and appears to have based the university’s decision to take down the wall on that group’s disapproval of SJP’s message.”

In the footnotes, the statement listed these “hostile” groups to be campus ministry and the Jewish Student Union.

“We played no role in the removal of SJP’s ‘apartheid wall,’” said Anna Goldstein, president of the Marquette Jewish Student Union and junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, in an email. “Palestine Legal’s statement in regard to our organization is targeting, defaming and utterly false.”

Campus Ministry Director Mary Sue Callan-Farley said, although West reached out to her for advice as to how to respond to the display, Callan-Farley did not have sufficient knowledge about the images on the wall, thus did not contribute to its removal.

“As an office, we want to address human suffering and human hope,” Callan-Farley said. “We’re not hostile to SJP at all.”

According to the publicity guide at the OSD, “All event publicity needs to be approved.” This includes displays, such as the wall that SJP put up.

“Our policies are in place to ensure that each student organization is held to the same standards and to help coordinate the activities of the many student groups,” University Spokesperson Brian Dorrington said in an email.

Jodi Melamed, an associate professor in the College of Arts & Sciences and  SJP faculty adviser, believes the wall was removed in order to protect the sensitivities of certain groups of students.

As a Jewish faculty member of Marquette University, I strongly protest the denial of the opportunity for SJP students to educate our campus about how Israel’s apartheid wall effects the lives of their relatives and all people in the West Bank,” Melamed wrote in a statement on March 2.

Milwaukee Jewish Voice for Peace, a local branch of a national organization that opposes oppression of Jewish, Muslim and Arab voices, also made a statement about SJP’s incident.

“We know the slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ to be a call for freedom for all Palestinians, citizens of Israel and in the Occupied Territories,” wrote Jewish Voice for Peace in its statement. 

Dorrington emphasized that, although the wall was taken down, SJP was allowed to continue with its “Israeli Apartheid Week” of events, including the sponsorship of a speaker.

“The display was just one aspect of the series of events,” Dorrington said. “It was removed because it was not submitted in advance for approval, as every student organization is required to do per university policy.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Students for Justice in Palestine receive legal assistance after mock apartheid wall removal”

  1. Rob on March 11th, 2016 12:51 am

    Israel is definitely an apartheid state, but reasons you NEVER knew. Very informative for the open-minded: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/yes-israel-is-an-apartheid-state/2016/03/10/

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