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Open Letter to OneVoice from Chicago Youth-led Palestinian Solidarity Organizations

Dear OneVoice,

We are youth-led Palestinian solidarity organizations in Chicago, many of which have been contacted by OneVoice to worktogether. Our response to these requests is simple: We will not work with you.

OneVoice aims to bring Palestinians and Israelis together to achieve “peace.” [1] However, you bring them together while ignoring Palestinian history, Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinian calls for struggling against colonialism, and the power imbalance between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people. We believe that the only way to achieve a just peace is by addressing all of these issues.

OneVoice avoids the history and the roots of the “conflict.” For example, mention of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of two-thirds of the Palestinian population during the Nakba in order to create a Jewish state in 1948 is completely absent. You claim that “the idea of focusing on the future instead of clinging to the past is paramount to the philosophy of both OneVoice members and its programs.” [2] This approach towards viewing the conflict ignores some of its most foundational elements. For Palestinians under occupation and in the diaspora, the past remains their present, and to ignore the history is to ignore and neglect the Palestinian plight today.

OneVoice also advocates for “a two-state solution to end the conflict.” [1] However, considering Israel’s continued settlement construction and land confiscation, the two-state solution has no realistic geopolitical configuration. Additionally, among your justifications for a two-state solution, you prioritize preserving a Jewish majority in Israel.[3]  Not only is this Israel-centric, it is racist in nature. A recent advertisement posted on the OneVoice Hebrew Facebook page urges the Jewish community to vote in the Israeli elections for a two-state solution to maintain an ethnically Jewish majority.[4] We find this position as disturbing as we would a position that advocates maintaining a white majority in the United States.

In the OneVoice mission statement, you claim to be a grassroots movement. However, your advocacy for a two-state solution is incompatible with grassroots organizing. OneVoice takes a top-down, “solution”-based approach grounded in border negotiations put forth by politicians. Your campaign for a two-state solution only serves the interests of those in power, rather than the people.

Unlike you, we come from a rights-based approach grounded in human rights, civil rights, and equality. We believe that peace and justice will come from the bottom up, not top down. As such, we support the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) issued by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations in 2005, asking the international community to implement boycotts and divestment initiatives against Israel until Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian land, recognizes the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and respects the Palestinian refugees’ right of return as stipulated by UN resolution 194.[5]

In regard to Palestinian citizens of Israel, OneVoice does not address their systematic discrimination, or their lack of basic civil rights within Israel. In fact, one of the only times we found any mention of Palestinian citizens of Israel on your website was in a poll, asking Israelis if “Israeli Arabs should be transferred to Palestine/the West Bank and Gaza”.[6] We feel that your complete disregard for Palestinian citizens of Israel ignores the structural racism and discrimination that is the driving force behind the continuous occupation, colonization, and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. We also believe that the two-state solution you advocate will likely perpetuate the second class status of Palestinians living in Israel.

Unfortunately, while OneVoice actively advocates Palestinian “nonviolence,” you simultaneously oppose the BDS movement. BDS is a key part of Palestinian nonviolent resistance today and we, as Palestinian solidarity organizers, are supporters and participants of the global BDS movement. Although you do not explicitly take a position on BDS, you have called campus divestment initiatives “destructive campaigns aimed at de-legitimizing Israel.”[7]

Moreover, It is highly problematic that OneVoice is advising Palestinians on resistance without fully acknowledging the oppression faced by Palestinians. You cannot refuse to acknowledge apartheid and colonization, while at the same time dictating what type of resistance of the oppressed is “acceptable”.

OneVoice gives Israel’s violent occupation and colonialism a more pleasant face by framing the “conflict” as symmetrical without explaining the power imbalance between Israel and the Palestinian people. Israel is the military occupier and Palestinians are occupied. Presenting both sides as equals is both dishonest and harmful, and it creates the illusion that the colonizer and the colonized are equally responsible parties in this “conflict.”

We support the 2010 statement against normalization issued by Palestinian youth organizations in commemoration of the anniversary of the Nakba. The appeal mentioned OneVoice as one of the organizations that “specifically target Palestinian youth to engage them in dialogue [sic] with Israelis without recognizing the inalienable rights of Palestinians, or aiming to end Israel’s occupation, colonization, and apartheid.”[8] The statement reflects young Palestinian voices on the ground who are experiencing Israel’s policies firsthand. To them, your organization serves to normalize oppression and injustice.

Until you change your positions on the issues raised above, we do not have any interest in working with OneVoice, or any other similar organization, until you recognize the power imbalance and refuse to perpetuate it by denying the colonial and apartheid reality in Palestine. We hope you understand.


Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights
Students for Justice in Palestine – Northwestern University
Students for Justice in Palestine – DePaul University
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of Chicago
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of Illinois at Chicago
Students for Justice in Palestine – Loyola University of Chicago
Students for Justice in Palestine – Northeastern Illinois University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Benedictine University
Students for Justice in Palestine – St. Xavier University


DePaul University students declare victory in Sabra hummus campaign

November 23, 2011

DePaul University students declare victory in Sabra hummus campaign

Following SJP’s campaign to remove Sabra hummus from campus due to students’ concerns about the product’s connection to human rights abuses, DePaul provides alternative hummus brand in its dining halls.

CHICAGO, IL  (November 23, 2011)—DePaul University Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) declare a major victory in their campaign against the sale of Sabra hummus products after University dining services introduced an alternative brand of hummus to campus this fall quarter. The decision was made after SJP’s yearlong campaign to draw attention to the complicity of Sabra’s parent company, the Strauss Group, in Israel’s military occupation of Palestine.

Student activists identify the University’s decision to introduce an alternative brand of hummus as a revision of the University’s

New alternative hummus sits next to Sabra in DePaul cafeteria

decision to continue selling Sabra hummus. SJP member Maryam Salem said, “We’re happy that student concerns over Sabra hummus have finally been heard. A lot of students were disappointed by the University’s decision to keep Sabra back in the spring. But now, by offering an alternative brand of hummus, students have an ethical product they can choose.”

In November 2011, SJP raised concern to the University about the sale of Sabra hummus at DePaul, citing that the Strauss Group provides material and financial donations to two Israeli military units, the Golani and Givati brigades, which have been found by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to have committed egregious violations of human rights and international law in Palestine. Days later, Sabra was removed from campus shelves, only to be replaced soon after. The issue was taken up by the administration’s Fair Business Practices Committee (FBPC) for review.

During the FBPC review, SJP launched an educational campaign to promote ethically responsible consumer behavior on campus by raising awareness of Sabra’s connection to human rights abuses. Examples include Givati brigade soldiers forcing Palestinian children to serve as human shields; members of the Golani brigade opening fire on a civilian home, killing three young girls; and a Givati brigade soldier shooting and killing a Palestinian mother and daughter as they carried white flags during Israel’s military assault on Gaza from December 2008 to January 2009.

In May 2011, SJP decided to ask the Student Government Association to allow students to vote on whether Sabra   Nearly 80 percent of the 1,000 students who participated voted to replace Sabra with an alternative brand of hummus.

Despite the large margin of student voters who voted for an alternative, the FBPC decided to keep Sabra, claiming that it “did not find evidence that the Strauss Group provides direct military support for units within the Israeli Defense Forces.”  DePaul President Rev. Dennis Holtschneider stated that the “product will remain on our shelves.”

However, in an unexpected turn, the University quietly introduced an alternative brand of hummus to campus dining halls several months later. According to a statement from the University, the alternative is a hummus homemade by Chartwells, DePaul’s food services vendor, to “provide the university community with more dining choices”.

SJP members say they are excited by the success of their campaign and will continue to raise awareness about Israel’s occupation of Palestine and strive for more socially responsible business relationships at DePaul University.


Chicago commemorates International Al-Quds Day

by Leena Saleh

As thousands rallied in Gaza, Palestine commemorating International Al-Quds Day, their friends around the world echoed their actions rallying all over from New York, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, London, and Iraq. Chicago was no exception. On Friday Aug. 26 supporters gathered in the Daley Plaza to voice their solidarity with Palestinians under occupation and to call for an end to violence and genocide.

Protestors at Daley Plaza (Photo by Leena Saleh)

We are not here to give strength to the cause of Palestine but to derive strength from a cause of truth,” said Sayyid Sulayman Abidi from Baitul Ilm Academy. Capturing the real feel and purpose to Al-Quds Day, Sulayman eloquently explained the role in which activists must play.

We hope that when history is written that our names are remembered as being those who stood up and fought for truth,” said Sulayman. He reminded his audience that this is a humanitarian cause that is necessary for all caring individuals to get involved. For Sulayman, what ignites such urgency is the justification of immoral and systematic violence against Palestinians.

There’s a difference between a travesty and a tragedy. If there is a hurricane that kills thousands of people, that is a tragedy. But if there is a system that justifies the torture and suffering of people and it may be only one person this is a travesty. Even if it is one death it is still a bigger travesty,” said Sulayamn.

First introduced in 1979 by Ayotallah Khomeni in Iran, Al-Quds Day is an annual event commemorated on the last Friday of Ramadan. What began as what Khomeni considered an obligatory religious duty for Muslims to stand up for Palestine, grew into an international solidarity movement inviting all Muslims and non-Muslims alike to condemn hate, violence, and Zionism.

It is because we are humans that we need to feel the suffering of the Palestinians. It is because we are Jews we feel the suffering of the Palestinians. It is because we are religious Jews we are so opposed to the philosophy of Zionism,” said Rabbi David Shloma Feldman from Neturei Karta, an international organization of Orthodox Jews dedicated to the propagation and clarification of Torah Judaism.

In history, the most vocal and eloquent voices opposing Zionism were religious Jews,” said Sulayman.

Imam Sayyid Sulayman speaking at International Al-Quds Day (Photo by Leena Saleh)

Shloma emphasized numerous clarifications about Judaism shedding light on a different element to the Palestinian solidarity movement sometimes overlooked. “We blame Zionism for the hate and animosity we experience today because of the terrible, evil actions of Zionism. It’s not only the Palestinian Arabs suffering from the Israelis but the Jewish community in Palestine who are tortured an imprisoned for speaking out against Zionism.”

Tackling not only the conceptual immorality of a Zionist state but attacking the source of its capability, the speakers reminded their audience of the importance of boycott and divestment.

To fund, give aid, support a state, to support a philosophy, to support a government, to support a system, that kills innocent civilians and takes away the rights of people, under no circumstance, anywhere is that OK. We’re gathered here today to oppose that,” said Thaer Ahmad of American Muslims for Palestine.

A flock of about 100 protestors of different ages and backgrounds chanted in unison surrounded by onlookers , “Free, free Palestine!” circling the Chicago Picasso, waving banners and vocalizing a call for freedom with conviction, continuing the tradition of International Al-Quds Day.


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(Photos by Leena Saleh)

Open Letter to the DePaul Community on the Outcome of the Sabra Referendum

Dear Members of the DePaul Community:

From May 16-20, DePaul University held a historic campus-wide student election. A referendum was placed on the ballot at the request of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), asking whether the Sabra brand of hummus served in campus dining halls should be replaced with an alternative brand. This question was proposed in light of the fact that Sabra’s co-owner, the Strauss Group, supports two units of the Israeli military, the Golani and Givati brigades. These brigades were found by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to have committed egregious human rights abuses in Palestine. Continue reading ‘Open Letter to the DePaul Community on the Outcome of the Sabra Referendum’

Sabra hummus is target of human rights campaign at DePaul University, students to vote in referendum this week



May 16, 2011

Contact: Trent Carl, (832) 244-2285 or

Title: Vice President, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)

DePaul University student referendum will consider removing Sabra hummus from campus due to concerns about human rights violations

CHICAGO, IL (May 16, 2010)— DePaul University’s Student Government Association has allowed a campus-wide referendum on whether or not Sabra hummus should be removed from campus dining halls next week. Students have voiced concerns about Sabra’s parent company, the Strauss Group, which provides financial support and supplies to two Israeli military brigades implicated in human rights violations.

“The Strauss Group supports two brigades of the Israeli military that have committed a series of human rights abuses,” said Agnieszka Karoluk, a student at DePaul University and a supporter of the campaign. “We should not be doing business that contradicts our campus values and which is connected to violations of Palestinian human rights.”

Numerous instances of these violations have been reported by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations. Recent examples include Givati brigade soldiers endangering Palestinian children by forcing them to serve as human shields; members of the Golani brigade opening fire on a civilian home, killing three young girls; and a Givati brigade soldier shooting and killing a Palestinian mother and daughter as they were carrying white flags during Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip from December 2008 to January 2009.

The referendum was allowed by the Student Government Association at the request of Students for Justice in Palestine, a student group that advocates justice, human rights, civil rights and equality for the Palestinian people. The referendum alleges that the Strauss Group “provides financial support and supplies to the Golani and Givati brigades… [which are] violators of human rights. Are you in favor of replacing Sabra with an alternative brand of hummus?”

Students will vote on the referendum next week, between May 16 to May 20as part of their general elections. The referendum on Sabra hummus is the first student referendum on a SGA ballot in at least ten years. Sabra hummus will be removed from campus shelves if 1,500 students vote, and the majority vote in favor of the referendum.


Cafe Resistance the fourth time around

by Leena Saleh

Cultivating the arts to resist oppression is a continuing tradition for  DePaul’s SJP which held their fourth annual Cafe Resistance on Jan.  24. With a room full of guests, more than 100, a diverse mix of  performers wowed the crowd with their rhythmic beats and words  of conviction.

Continue reading ‘Cafe Resistance the fourth time around’

SJP Statement in Response to the Recent FBI Subpoenas of Activists and Students

Students for Justice in Palestine National Solidarity Statement on Impact of Grand Jury Subpoenas on Students’ First Amendment Rights

“For if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.”

James Baldwin, in an open letter to Angela Davis, November 19, 1970

As students at over fifty American universities, we unequivocally condemn the abuse of grand jury subpoenas to chill the exercise of First Amendment rights by university students and anti-war activists speaking and organizing against Israel’s continued oppression of the Palestinian people. Since September 24, 2010, the F.B.I. has served at least 24 grand jury subpoenas on students and activists in a secret investigation that many have called a witch-hunt. We call upon Attorney General Eric Holder and United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to respect the civil rights and free speech of all those who support the Palestinian struggle for freedom by immediately withdrawing grand jury subpoenas which threaten the First Amendment rights of students and activists around the country. Continue reading ‘SJP Statement in Response to the Recent FBI Subpoenas of Activists and Students’

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