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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Miami activist teaches FAU students how to argue for Palestinian rights

Victor Agosto, a local activist, was invited to come speak at the SJP meeting. Photo by Christine Capozziello.

Pro-Palestinian activist Victor Agosto thinks it’s pointless to argue with “a hardcore Zionist,” but it’s important that you still do it anyway — especially if others are watching.

Students for Justice in Palestine held a Palestine advocacy training session on Jan. 24 to teach a group of about 10 members how to argue against what they call “Zionist myths” or controversial topics about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. SJP advertised its event on their Facebook page as a session on “How to Effectively Dispel Zionist Myths.”

Instead of talking about how to argue in favor of Palestine, the event ended up being a discussion led by Agosto about things like the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.

Agosto stressed to students how important it is to argue in Palestine’s defense when talking to the opposition. “It’s usually a waste of time to argue with a hardcore Zionist. But still, it’s important to argue if there are people around, because those are the people you need to influence,” said Agosto.

Most of the people at the discussion were SJP members, but a few others participated including Occupy FAU organizer, Gonzalo Vizcardo. “It’s important to be in solidarity with the Palestinian people, that’s it,” he said.

Owls for Israel coordinator, Brooke Weinbaum did not support SJP’s event. “It is unfortunate that SJP seeks to demonize and delegitimize Israel at FAU,” said Weinbaum.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) president, Noor Fawzy, encourages people to come hear her organization's message. Photo by Christine Capozziello.

Students discussed popular topics that pro-Palestine and pro-Israel groups disagree on. One topic was the possible discrimination that Palestinian refugees might feel if they could return to Israel. Agosto compared it with the fears of ending the apartheid era in South Africa. “People want rights, that’s what the Palestinian struggle is about. It’s not about killing Jews or getting back at them for anything. That’s the only way there can be reconciliation,” said Agosto.

“To call Israel in apartheid state is not only inaccurate,” said Weinbaum. “But highly offensive toward countries that have actually faced apartheid.”

SJP President, Noor Fawzy wasn’t expecting the event to be a wide discussion. “I thought we would be doing that you know, ‘here’s a Zionist argument what to do you say about that?’” said Fawzy. “I guess we kind of sort of did that, but it wasn’t as organized and I think we made it that way on purpose. Just to generate more of a group discussion, to get people active.”

“As far as what ‘myths’ there are, the issues at hand are very complicated and complex,” said Weinbaum. “They involve historical, emotional, difficult issues. If they weren’t so complicated, why would the greatest minds in the world have failed so miserably to achieve a lasting peace in the region?”

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