The American Friends Service Community’s program coordinator for AFSC in Indiana Erin Polley came to the University of Indianapolis to speak to students about the injustice in Palestine on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Schwitzer Student Center, Room 012. AFSC is a Quaker organization that promotes peace with justice.
Senior sociology and philosophy major Zak Mitiche started the presentation with the quote by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
“‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,’” he said.
Polley explained the oppression Palestinians are experiencing, saying that in Palestine, there are three different roads that separate the Palestinians and Israelis, because it is too dangerous for the two groups to travel on the same road. Palestinians are identified by where they were born and forced to wear IDs.
She said this creates a problem for traveling, noting that one must obtain a permit to travel from one city to the next. Obtaining a permit can take months or even years, she said, so there is no way one can travel in an emergency situation, which discourages leaving one’s hometown or family. Polley also said that if a Palestinian owes a debt to Israel, that person cannot receive a permit to travel.
Permits for Palestinian schools take years to receive, according to Polley, so children attend United Nations schools, which only meet for a couple of hours a day. These schools focus only on mathematics and the sciences, she said, so the art and culture of Palestine is being lost among generations.
She said this also allows children more time to get into trouble in the streets. Polley said that the justice system in Palestine is very confused, especially when it comes to children.
“The one thing that really made an impression on me is the fact that young people by the age of 12 can be detained,” she said.
In Palestine, the laws are strict on children; a child can be detained for 20 years for an action as small as throwing a rock, Polley said.
The AFSC has promoted a group of young people in Palestine called Palestinian Youth Together for Change, according to Polley. This youth group is working in Palestine to help reconstruct neighborhoods, provide work for other young people and help protect other Palestinians 19 to 23 year olds.
She said the AFSC also has promoted a project called the Boycott Hewlett Packard movement. The company Hewlett Packard (HP) apparently creates IDs for Palestinians and makes machines that aid in the act of tracking these Palestinians, according to Polley. The boycott encourages people and companies to become “HP-free,” discouraging the purchase or use of HP products, Polley said, because of the company’s contribution to the oppression of Palestinians.
According to Polley, the AFSC also supports questioning American funding. A large amount of money is given to Israel each year, Polley said, and no one in the United States government has been able to
tell the public exactly what this funding is being spent on overseas.
This is a problem, she said, because there are inhumane organizations such as children detention centers that the funding may be put toward. Polley makes a point of asking state senators what this money is used for and encouraging them to look into U.S. funding.
Information on what companies give money to Israel, is available at wedivest.org. Information on the UIndy Divest Campaign is available at UIndyDivest.wordpress.com or the student organization on Twitter @UIndy_SJP. More information about AFSC is available at www.AFSC.org.