The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) hosted a two-day conference (March 28-29, 2014) in Philadelphia, “The Role of the US in Israel-Palestine: Current Realities & Creative Responses.” The conference, sponsored by Friends of Sabeel-North America (FOSNA), sought to “galvanize advocacy for justice in Israel-Palestine” by featuring workshops promoting boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaignsthe Kairos Palestine document, an end to U.S. military aid to Israel, and “[r]eaffirming the Israel-Palestine conflict as a civil rights struggle, with parallels to South Africa and the American South.”
Conference speakers include: Ali Abunimah, founder of the Electronic Intifada, an online platform for promoting anti-Israeli rhetoric; Naim Ateek, founder and director of Sabeel Ecumenical Theology Center in Jerusalem, who frequently employs antisemitic themes and imagery; Cecilie Surasky, deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that considers itself the “Jewish wing of the [Palestinian] solidarity movement” and seeks to create “a wedge” within the American Jewish community over support for Israel; Riham Barghouti, founding member of Adalah-NY, one of the most vocal proponents of BDS in the United States; and Pauline Coffman of the Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church-USA that leads church divestment campaigns and theological attacks against Zionism.
The American Friends Service Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace also announced that they will be hosting a 2014 “BDS Summer Institute” student leadership training course, August 10-14 in Northern California.
The student leadership course is intended “for student activists who want to deepen their skills at: Building the base of support on campus for BDS!”; “Researching corporate targets and university endowments!”; “Growing & sustaining your group for the long haul!”, as well as those who are “considering launching a campaign in the future, or are on [their] way to a victory.”