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Thousands of students 'evicted' in pro-Palestine solidarity campaign
Published Wednesday 11/12/2013 (updated) 13/12/2013 16:42
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Members of the University of Michigan's student organization SAFE
demonstrate against the Israeli occupation (MaanImages/SAFE)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Thousands of University of Michigan students woke up Tuesday morning to faux eviction notices slipped underneath their dorm room doors.

"If you do not vacate the premises by 13 DEC 6PM, we reserve the right to demolish your premises without delay," the notices read.

"We cannot be held responsible for property or persons remaining inside. Charges for demolition will by applied to your student account."

The mock eviction was orchestrated by the student organization Students Allied for Freedom and Equality to raise awareness about the actual Israeli-directed evictions that are carried out on a regular basis in the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem, in addition to the Negev.

"When Palestinians lose their homes to unjust and illegal demolition/eviction notices, they are also robbed of their dignity, human worth, and livelihood," SAFE said in a statement.

Michigan students carry some responsibility for Israel's "unjust" actions, the statement said, as portions of the university's hefty endowment fund are invested in "companies that profit from housing demolitions and all other aspects of the illegal Israeli occupation."

Among such companies are Caterpillar, Inc, Northrup Grumman, Corp. and Hewlett-Packard, according to coverage of the "evictions" in the campus student newspaper The Michigan Daily.

The "dorm room demolition" scare, which the Daily said caused a "stir" on the Ann Arbor-based campus Tuesday, also encouraged student support for a university-wide boycott of Israel.

The "end goal of this campaign is to shame the university for its complicity in human rights violations in Palestine and thus have it successfully divest its funds from these companies and invest them elsewhere in socially responsible companies," SAFE's statement said.

Tuesday's mock eviction campaign came six days after a historic landmark for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement in the United States - the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education.


Within 24 hours of the eviction notices' distribution, the Twitter hashtag #UMMockEviction had accumulated thousands of tweets.

Throughout the day, members of SAFE and supporters of its message tweeted facts about Palestinian evictions and Israel's Prawer Plan to uproot Bedouin villages. Some students also tweeted about their reactions to finding the notices at their doors.

One student returned home from an all-night session of finals cramming and tweeted: "Came home from 13 straight hours of studying to an eviction notice?? Scared the hell out of me. Good work #UMMockEviction Team, point taken."

Another student tweeted: "Eviction notices not only produce physical loss but also enact emotional+psychological violence on indigenous Palestinians #UMMockEviction."

Negative reactions to SAFE’s campaign did indeed include remarks that the fake eviction notices were traumatic. Some students contacted university administrators, reporting they felt "unsafe," "targeted," and "triggered," the Daily reported. The Jewish student organization Hillel even held a gathering Tuesday evening to create a "safe space" to discuss concerns about the campaign.

"The collective values of community and civil discourse were shattered by this incident," Hillel director Tilly Shames told the Daily.

But supporters of #UMMockEviction came down hard against those who opposed the campaign by claiming to feel threatened.

"If #UMMockEviction makes you feel triggered, ask yourself, why doesn’t the violent dispersal of people make you feel triggered? #redefinesafespace," one student tweeted.

Another tweeted: "what does 'safe space' mean when Palestinian land and homes are under militarized occupation from a Zionist regime?"

SAFE stressed that "most of the students who really had no previous understanding of the situation engaged positively," though it said that the "Zionist backlash" the campaign received was expected.

"Their claims of feeling targeted are unfounded. Their feelings of being triggered ignore the greater picture and the reality on the ground in Palestine. This was not a campaign about any one person, it was about our complicity as students in such a shameful practice."

According to the Daily, campus student groups have petitioned for official divestment from Israel several times in the past, including in 2000 and 2006, but the Board of Regents has repeatedly voted it down.

At the same time, the university has a proud history of activism, diversity, and social justice, SAFE’s statement said.

"Thus, we are morally compelled to raise awareness of our complicity as students, and to staff too, at the University of Michigan. We are the ones who pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into this university, (and) we should therefore be guaranteed, at the least, that our dollars are not being used to strip other human beings of their internationally recognized human rights and dignity."
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1 ) isreal / next
12/12/2013 12:31
good artcle

2 ) Ben Alofs / UK/Netherlands
12/12/2013 20:54
Excellent campaign, which raises awareness of cruel demolitions of Palestininan homes by Israel.

3 ) melissa Geiger / usa
12/12/2013 21:20
It is very encouraging to see the growth in positive attention toward the Palestinian oppression - we are beginning to see a world wide look at the damage the zionists and Israel have been accomplishing. The Israelis that I know are horrified to learn what is happening. Wake up world!!!

4 ) Arnold / Canada
12/12/2013 21:55
End Palestinian OCCUPATION of all Arab lands hosting these refugees and their descendants.

5 ) Rene / US
13/12/2013 09:46
How does Silly Tilly think the Palestinians feel? Jews always exaggerate any affront to Jews.

6 ) Robert Haymond / Israel
13/12/2013 10:04
Ben: Are you still dragging your old nurse's feet around?

7 ) Colin Wright / USA
13/12/2013 10:22
To Arnold #4: 'End Palestinian OCCUPATION of all Arab lands hosting these refugees and their descendants.' Mmm. In that case, you must be proposing either (a) genocide, or (b) their return to Palestine. Which is it?

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
13/12/2013 10:24
To melissa Geiger #3: ' Wake up world!!!' Indeed -- but let Israel 'snooze' a little longer -- that is, let her continue a little further on the path she's marked out for herself. I want to be very sure she doesn't wake up until it's too late to pull back from the brink.

9 ) harry / canada
14/12/2013 22:13
these mock eviction notices are just more thuggish harassment, further proving that the so-called Palestinian Arabs are bullies and savages & simply not ready to live with others in a civilized way.

10 ) Colin Wright / USA
16/12/2013 22:20
To harry #9: 'these mock eviction notices are just more thuggish harassment' If mock eviction is 'thuggish harassment,' what does that make actual eviction? If mock eviction proves that 'Palestinian Arabs are bullies and savages' what does actual eviction say Israeli Jews are?
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