On Monday afternoon, Laurier’s campus became the kickoff site for Waterloo-based participation in the sixth annual international Israeli Apartheid Week.
The commencing protest was a collaborative effort between the University of Waterloo’s Students for Palestinian Rights (SFPR) and Laurier for Palestine (L4P).
Monday’s event set the tone for a week of events, which will wrap up on March 7.
SFPR president Aseel Al Dallal explained that Israeli Apartheid Week is being held in over 40 cities around the world.
“We want to expose Israel’s system of apartheid and we want to expose the injustices that the Palestinians have to live through,” said Al Dallal.
Last year, Israeli Apartheid Week was a source of contention on campus.
In January 2009, Laurier sociology professor Peter Eglin held a number of impromptu rallies in the Concourse during which he spoke out against Israeli action in the Gaza Strip.
Eglin’s public spats with the Jewish Students’ Association (JSA) led to hostilities months before Apartheid Week began.
On its first day, the 2010 week of protest had succeeded in initiating debate and forcing official comment on the issue.
On March 1, Liberal party leader Michael Ignatieff criticized the planned week in an official statement which read: “Let us be clear: criticism of Israeli government policy is legitimate. Wholesale condemnation of the State of Israel and the Jewish people is not legitimate. Not now, not ever.”
However, despite disapproval from many in the international community, the protests continue.
For one, L4P president Fatima Attia remained undeterred.
“The one message we would like to spread on campus, especially at Laurier, is that we are not trying to promote any hatred or infuse a situation and make it worse.
“We need people to know and understand what is going on in Palestine from a humanitarian perspective or from any perspective you look at it,” she said.
Attia concluded, “The one thing that people need to not forget is that this is not about hate. It is not about spreading hate. We are not trying to hate a race, a culture, a religion, nothing.”