Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) was recently granted a provisional charter by the Binghamton University Student Association (SA).
SJP is an activist organization on campus that shares Palestinian culture and history with the student body to encourage justice, human rights and peace among various ethnicities at BU. Their goal is to celebrate Palestinian heritage in hopes of putting aside politics to foster harmony for the groups involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Middle East. This newly chartered variation of the club was recently established during the fall semester.
SJP’s mission and intended impact on the campus community is further described in an Instagram post.
“SJP Binghamton is a movement that aims to celebrate Palestinian culture, encourage student solidarity and foster positive relationships between students from all backgrounds,” the post reads. ”We aim to develop solidarity between Jewish and Palestinian students via cultural exchange, positive discourse and activities. We do not aim to be a political force on campus; rather we hope to turn our focus toward aspects that highlight Palestinian culture and people that have existed prior to the conflict.”
With the SA provisional charter comes an increase of available funds, resources and campus involvement for SJP. Mousa Tous, an intern with SJP and a sophomore majoring in political science, described the charter process and its meaning for SJP’s future.
“Receiving a full charter from the SA has been a long and grueling process, but thankfully with our full confirmation as a chartered club on campus we have greater access to resources that other clubs have access to, and more places to host events, “ Tous wrote in an email. “Ultimately, getting chartered by the SA only proves our potential for growth, and I hope to help SJP realize that potential.”
Tous also said the club wishes to be recognized by BU and its students separately from previous versions of organization at BU.
“This iteration of SJP has been active since the beginning of the school year, but there have been different iterations in the past,” Tous wrote. “We hope to make our own mark on [BU], regardless of however we’ve been perceived in past iterations.”
SJP holds various events on campus aimed at celebrating Palestinian culture and fostering an inclusive and peaceful community through mediums including visual art and film. Through participation in these activities, the club’s goal is to facilitate a positive discussion to learn more about Palestinian heritage.
Adeliya Mammadova, an intern with SJP and a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, said the organization has held a variety of events to promote and discuss Palestinian culture.
“In the past we have held several artistic events like ‘SJPaint,’ where we collectively painted a banner inspired by the wall in the West Bank,” Mammadova wrote in an email. “We have held watch parties for various historical and cultural documentaries, as well as box office movies created by Palestinians. After these watch parties, we reserve time to discuss ideas of what we thought and learned.”
Going forward with support from the SA and a new source of funding, the SJP is in the process of planning future events to further the mission of the club. Mammadova discussed the club’s future plans and upcoming projects.
“We’d like to host more events that provide a more hands-on experience of Palestinian traditions, with art materials that people can take part in and take home with them,” Mammadova wrote. “We are also planning to spread the word of our club on bulletin boards, to our departments and tabling events. With the funds generously granted by the SA, we will finally be able to support Palestinian-run companies, organizations and small businesses, both domestically and internationally, by purchasing their food, art and clothing and sharing them with our club members.”
The SJP aims to have an impact on the broader community on campus, but Mammadova also described the impact SJP has had on herself.
“As a member, SJP to me means that I am accepted for who I am and am able to share my thoughts and feelings openly,” Mammadova wrote. “Being a part of SJP, I am able to celebrate a culture that is beautiful yet very resilient. SJP has consistently offered me a space where all cultures, ethnicities, religions and feelings were respected and honored.”
Editor’s note: Lakhsmi Chatterjee, Arts & Culture editor, is a member of Students for Justice in Palestine. She was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.