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Rutgers activist targeted
Palestinian conference under fire

By Nicole Colson | October 10, 2003 | Page 12

ACTIVISTS AT Rutgers University in New Jersey are under fire. Their "crime"? Organizing a campaign to express solidarity with the struggle of Palestinians.

This coming weekend, New Jersey Solidarity-Activists for the Liberation of Palestine will host a North American Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement at Rutgers--expected to be one of the largest gatherings of pro-Palestinian activists in the U.S. this year. But under heavy pressure from pro-Israel groups, Rutgers has been trying for months to force the conference off campus.

Last month, administrators tried to cancel the meeting--claiming a problem with "logistics." But the truth is that the university objects to the politics of the conference.

That's why it decided to host "Israel Inspires"--a pro-Israel conference, also scheduled for October 10-12, with its stated aim to "neutralize the Palestinian movement." Featured participants include Pentagon hack Richard Perle, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and Tom Rose, publisher of the right-wing Jerusalem Post.

Meanwhile, Charlotte Kates, one of the main organizers of the Palestinian solidarity conference, has become a target for pro-Israel extremists. Flyers were distributed on campus that include Kates' picture--along with her address and phone number, and her parents' address--and invite people to call and "pay her a visit."

Another flyer pretending to be a poster for the pro-Palestinian conference has a photo in which Ku Klux Klan members have been retouched to look like Arabs--equating Nazis with those working to end Israel's apartheid. "[Kates has] been harassed--herself and a few others--for quite some time," said Elias Rashmawi, a coordinator of the Free Palestine Alliance and speaker at the conference. "This is typical whenever you're working on the Palestine issue."

Kates and the other activists at Rutgers have vowed to go ahead with their conference. "We refuse to be silenced," she said in a statement. "We will hold our conference wherever we must--in a hotel, in a park, wherever. The Palestinian people have continued to resist, despite incredible and overwhelming force displayed against them--and we owe them nothing less than to refuse to be silenced."

To demand that Rutgers University reinstate the Palestinian solidarity conference and oppose the harassment of Charlotte Kates, call 732-932-8060, or e-mail [email protected]

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