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SUPER UW showcases ties to Kashmir at Annual Palestinian Awareness week

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Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) held its Seventh Annual Palestine Awareness Week last month. Through various exhibits and events, the group hoped to bring attention to Israeli apartheid in Palestine and build support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) that intends to pressure Israel to ends its occupation of Palestinian lands.

The events of the week included a screening of “Salt of this Sea,” the acclaimed film by Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir, as well as Dabke lessons — a traditional Palestinian dance — in Red Square.

Dabke is a fast-paced dance performed with dancers joining hands in a line or circle with a leader controlling the group. The leader determines the speed of the dance and is typically the most skilled dancer, sometimes breaking off the line to improvise. Often Dabke performances occur at weddings and other festive events.

On Red Square, the leader of the line called off the basic steps to newcomers to the dance style, characterized by crossing over the feet, kicks, and hops.

The week culminated in a panel on mental warfare, cultural erasure, and resiliency in Palestine and Kashmir.

“I care so much about the activism of making sure these people’s voices are heard when they are stateless in a society that prioritizes people with states,” one panelist who wished to remain anonymous, said. “It is important for me that people’s voices are heard that contradict the mainstream narrative.

The panelists highlighted the similarities between Palestine and the state of Kashmir, located on a border dispute between India and Pakistan, as they both experience marginalization from powerful states.

SUPER received solidarity in their resistance to Israel from the Chicanx Student Movement of Aztlan (MEChA) that hosted an event called “Arts and Discussion: Borders, Detainment, and Resiliency” during the week. MEChA also worked with SUPER to equate the use of border walls in between East Jerusalem and the West Bank with the southern U.S. border. The Israel Apartheid wall placed on Red Square during the week featured one side describing Palestinian oppression and the other featuring the oppression of Latinx immigrants to the United States.

The apartheid wall stays true to SUPER’s goal of promoting BDS, calling for the boycott of businesses that support Israeli occupation and settlement of Palestinian land. The movement primarily criticizes companies for their complicit participation in the Israeli occupation, including well-known ones such as Hewlett-Packard (HP), which provides the technology for checkpoints in Palestinian territory, and Caterpillar, the construction equipment company that sells bulldozers that have been reportedly used to remove Palestinian homes.

More than anything, SUPER focuses on human rights violations experienced by Palestinians.

One panelist lamented that “[the] conflict is so politicized that it takes away from the humanity of the situation.”

By bringing Palestine Awareness Week back to the UW for its seventh year, the members of SUPER perceive the continued presence of the group as a testament to the resiliency of Palestinians in the face of displacement and resistance to Israeli occupation.

Discussing the future and what can change in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, one panelist stressed that BDS is important for standing up to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, but also claimed that the dialogue used to discuss the conflict will need to change before much action is taken.

“Language is really powerful,” she said. “Mainstream narratives, the kind of words we use help justify to [bystanders to the conflict] why they’re complacent.”

According to the panelist, by changing the way discussion about the occupation circulates, people will be more willing to understand the situation.

“Collective action is dependent on changing the way we talk about the issue,” she said. “That’s how you get people to understand what’s going on.”

Reach contributing writer Andy Samms at Twitter: @andy_samms

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