The Palestine Solidarity Committee held a panel discussion on campus Wednesday, in which professors and students discussed the links between oppression in Ferguson, Missouri, and Gaza.
During the event, which was co-sponsored by the Association of Black Psychologists and the Pre-Law National Black Law Students Association, assistant English professor Snehal Shingavi said the purpose of the event was to highlight the connections between the conflict in Gaza and Ferguson after police broke up protests over the shooting of African-American teen Michael Brown.
“That would be the presence of massive militarized forces in dense urban settings and unarmed people fighting back with rocks and sticks against it,” Shingavi said.
Elan Kogutt, co-president of Texans for Israel, criticized the event in an email as it was held at the start of Rosh Hashanah and said no members of Texans for Israel were in attendance.
“Rosh Hashanah is a time for reflection and goal-setting for the coming year,” Kogutt said. “Rather than bringing our two communities closer to peace, this event serves as a regressive step away from dialogue and education, comparing two very distinct instances and failing to acknowledge the loss of innocent Israeli life and suffering of millions of Israelis under rocket fire this summer.”
Mohammed Nabulsi, first year law student and member of the committee, said his organization was not aware that Rosh Hashanah was that night and that the scheduling was not intentional.
“We don’t plan our activities around holidays,” Nabulsi said. “As far as the Texans for Israel goes, the problem that the Palestine Solidarity Committee has with groups like this is that the ideology that they operate under is Zionism, and we can’t work with Zionism.”
Nabulsi said he thought the reason the struggles had been linked by both Palestinians and people of Ferguson is that they see a common humanity.
“I think the most important thing said tonight is that the struggles for both Palestinian rights in Palestine and Israel and the struggle for rights of people of color in the U.S. are commonly linked by the fact that we are all human,” Nabulsi said.
During the discussion, Shingavi said he was not arguing that the situations in Palestine and Ferguson were identical, but he wanted to discuss activism using the analytic tools of an academic context.
“What I am going to be arguing is that if you are outraged by what the police did in Ferguson, you might want to get a closer look at what routinely happens in Palestine,” Shingavi said.
This article has been updated since its original publication.