A few who knew that LionPAC had reserved the Sundial for the same time that Lucha and Filasteen were planning a human wall across Low Plaza anticipated a showdown – but would have been disappointed, as the event went down without incident. About 50 people (very roughly speaking), including many of the New York Magazine pantheon, members of BSO, SPeAK, MSA, ISO, Chicano Caucus, and other components of Columbia’s brimming alphabet soup of activism spanned the plaza in an event meant to draw a connection between the Israeli security fence and the Mexican border wall, which organizers view as racist and oppressive. James Brown, Arabic pop music, and short-lived chants of “Free Palestine!” filled the awkward hush between speeches by professor Noha Radwan, students, and a representative of ANSWER, and some of those who stopped by couldn’t help but dance to the largely upbeat music.
It wasn’t supposed to be a red-rover style line. Originally, Filasteen had planned an actual wall, festooned with information and student art.
According to an e-mail obtained by Bwog, they ended up $400 short of the the $700 that would cost, and appealed to MEALAC professors for donations to fill the gap. No dice. UPDATE: Sources say that Filasteen actually did get the money together, but they’re saving it for another event.
Of the speeches we managed to catch, one took the philosophical/anthropological stance, linking the walls on the Mexican border and the West Bank to the tendency of dominant powers to seek to block out the “other,” in these cases with physical walls of separation. Filasteen speaker Veli Yasin pointed out that “this is not about undermining Zionism or the Holocaust, this is about… people who are oppressing other people,” and added “thanks…Shalom”. Johanna Ocana of Lucha led Spanish chants for amnesty while the wall disintegrated, and longtime Puero Rican activist Carlito Rovira proclaimed that “these walls will be tumbled down by the will of the
people! Walls have been created by racist police in our communities.”
Meanwhile, LionPAC manned the sundial, handing out cards that said “Israel =/= Apartheid”. President Ari Gardner commented: “We’re here not to protest, but to present facts… The motivation is not so much an anti-apartheid event, but an anti-wall event… They don’t believe that states should delineate borders.”
– KER & LBD, Photos by Sara Vogel