Two Brandeis University student groups, one of them Jewish, will be hosting the school’s first “Israeli Occupation Awareness Week” next week. One of the week’s events will be a speech by Professor Noam Chomsky.
Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine, along with the school’s recently founded chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, organized the series of events. Jon Sussman, one of JVP’s founders, said that the programs’ goal was to balance out the pro-Israel events that have occurred on campus this semester.
“There have been a lot of events coming from the Zionist narrative,” he said. “We thought this would be a nice counterpoint.”
Brandeis was founded as a non-sectarian Jewish university, and it has had strong official ties with the state of Israel. Last school year, however, students protested the selection of Michael Oren–Israel’s ambassador to the US–as commencement speaker.
Sussman added that Chomsky, who is known in part for his unsympathetic views on Israel, will bring attention to the week of events, which also includes speeches by activists in Israel and Palestine–among other programs.
“He’s a well-known voice,” Sussman said regarding Chomsky. “He comes to Brandeis with a clearly articulated position and he’s going to make people take notice.”
The week comes months before the annual string of Israeli Apartheid Weeks that occur on campuses across the country in the spring. Sussman said that this week would be “analogous” in terms of subject matter to IAW, and that Brandeis groups may host an IAW next semester. He added, however, that hosting an official IAW is “not our priority” at present.
“The more we’ve come out explicitly, the more people have started talking about this issue, the more people realize that there aren’t a lot of black and whites on this issue.”