As we continue to expand SPME’s activities in North America combating the “Israel Apartheid weeks” and the BDS movement, it is instructive to note the groups that have joined the discussion: liberal and leftists groups ranging from women’s rights supporters, LGBT organizations, and human rights activists have all championed the Palestinian cause as the common denominator that embodies their respective causes. Of all, the spaces that these groups choose to voice their opinions it is North American college campuses that have become their biggest breeding ground.
As a small step toward better understanding of the issues, the SPME mid-West Chapter headed by Prof. Edna Erez a Professor of Criminology, Law, and Justice at University of Illinois at Chicago hosted Prof. Elie Rekhess currently the visiting Crown Chair in Middle East Studies at Northwestern University to discuss the current state of affairs between Israelis and Palestinians. In the past, Prof. Rekhess served as a Strategic Advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Barak and as an Advisor to the Ministerial Committee on the Arabs in Israel. Those who attended his talk noted that he represents a voice not commonly found on North American campuses, which is why SPME has been instrumental by giving individuals like Rekhess a podium.
In a talk titled “Palestinian Islamism: Between Dogmatism and Pragmatism,” Prof. Elie Rekhess provided a thorough assessment of Israel’s relationship with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, while examining the roots of Hamas’s efforts to “Islamize” the Israel-Arab conflict. He also offerd ideas about how to approach the next steps of future Israeli-Palestinian relations. Prof. Rekhess, is uniquely suited to address these matters, being one of Israel’s leading experts on Arab affairs, talked to a group of professors and pro-Israel professionals from various universities in the Chicago area.
It is events like the above that allow SPME to stay ahead of the curve while giving a real in-depth understanding of the Middle East and in our arduous battle to combat anti-Zionism/Semitism.