Denver SDS hosts Palestine teach-in with Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi
Denver, CO – On February 6, the Denver Students for a Democratic society hosted a Teach-In Against Genocide in the North Building on the Denver Auraria campus. Students asked questions, and heard the perspective of Dr. Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, a Palestinian American born and raised in Nablus, who graciously called in remotely to speak about her academic and lived experiences as they relate to the ongoing genocide in Gaza, the history of Palestine, and other fights against injustice across the world.
Dr. Abdulhadi is the founding director senior scholar of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Program at the San Francisco State University. The SFSU site goes onto mention that she is a co-founding editorial board member of Islamophobia Studies Journal, lead editor of book volumes and author of over 80 articles and book chapters in seven languages. She received her PhD from Yale University in 2000 and has many scholarly awards and community honors.
“And I am very happy to be in company with the young generation, the new generation of Students for a Democratic Society and the Palestine Solidarity Committee,” she said. “SDS played a very important role in the 60s in terms of opposing the war in Vietnam and demanding change to the society of connecting with other struggles. There were of course many positive outcomes and there were a lot of challenges as well and we learned from those histories.”
Dr. Abdulhadi spoke on the important work that anti-Zionist organizations here were doing, for example, when they protested the Jewish National Fund conference in Denver this past December. While the Jewish National Fund claims to be an American non-profit that focuses on Jewish advocacy, in reality the organization has a long history of funding the destruction of Palestinian villages and building illegal Israeli settlements on the land.
Dr. Abdulhadi told stories of places she had visited in Palestine that are now parks and illegal settlements funded directly by the Jewish National Fund and built over the ruins of Palestinian owned homes and cities. She spoke on the Jewish National Fund’s tactic of “greenwashing” colonialism, by planting trees and claiming to be pro-environment; the fund seeks to hide the true nature of its purposes in continuing to claim ownership over the land of historic Palestine.
Dr. Abdulhadi also addressed the increasingly desperate situation in Gaza, responding to a student question as to whether what we are witnessing is a “second Nakba.” She said that not only is this a second Nakba but agreed that the first one never really ended. What we are seeing today in Gaza and Palestine is even worse than the 1948 catastrophe where 700,000 to 800,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes at gunpoint, and permanently displaced with many killed in violent massacres by Israeli forces. She spoke about the over 30,000 Palestinians killed by Israel in the last four months, and more than 66,000 injured.
Throughout the talk, Dr. Abdulhadi continued to emphasize that the Palestinian struggle is not “exceptional.” The narrative is often presented as complex or somehow different from other struggles for justice. She said that each people’s struggles have their own contexts and their own similarities and differences, but she also asserted that all of these struggles stem from the same system that continues to oppress people across the world.
When asked how we can encourage our community to engage in advocacy and what people can do to make a difference right now, she said, “I think people can participate in different kinds of advocacies that are manageable. When people say ‘Call the White House and bombard them with calls,’ call them! I am not saying that Biden is going to change, but it is definitely having an effect because the staff of the White House are resigning.”
Dr. Abdulhadi went on, “When there is a protest, go to the protest. When there is a vigil, go to the vigil. When there is a need for donations for people on bail, do it. When there is a need for donations for the people in Gaza, do it.”