Thursday, January 6, 2011
??? Meet Brooklyn College's first and growing Palestinian Club
Brooklyn College's first pro-Palestinian student organization is bringing the politics of the Middle East to Midwood - and being criticized for refusing to meet with the school's pro-Israel clubs.
Two Palestinian students founded the Palestinian Club of Brooklyn College last year because they thought their side of the conflict in Israel wasn't being told at the Bedford Ave. campus.
Since then, the club has grown to 100 members and become known for campus events such as movie screenings, candlelight vigils and small protests.
"People here don't know what's really happening in Palestine," said club co-founder Eeman Abuasi, 21, of Bensonhurst, who grew up in Brooklyn and the West Bank, where her aunts and uncles still live.
"We're trying to show what it's like to live in Palestine," said Abuasi, a senior who's majoring in psychology.
Since its formation, the Palestinian Club has held a half-dozen campus events, each attended by up to about 100 students.
The club's growing campus presence prompted pro-Israel student groups including Hillel and the Israel Club to ask for meetings with its leaders.
Each time, the leadership of Palestinian Club refused, said Gene Sobol, 22, a senior from Bensonhurst who's a member of both Hillel and the Israel Club.
"They don't want to have anything to do with us, but this is Brooklyn, not the West Bank," said Sobol, a biology major.
"I think we could have a constructive dialog with them," Sobol said.
Brooklyn College Hillel, which has about 1,000 members, asked Palestinian Club officers to discuss holding a joint cultural event in November, but Palestinian Club officers refused.
"It would make people think that Palestinians and Israelis are getting along fine, and that's not the case," said Abuasi, whose father was principal of the Islamic Al-Noor School in Park Slope until 2009.
The conflict in the Middle East is too intense for the Palestinian Club to consider a public meeting with pro-Israel students, Abuasi said.
Instead, the club will hold a series of events this semester to draw attention to the conflict between Palestinians and Israel.