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October 12, 2002

Mideast war rages on U.S. campuses
Websites add to arsenal of students fighting anti-Israel bias

A Mideast war rages on the campuses of universities across the U.S. as pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel student groups, professors and activists clash in a microcosmic intifada.

Battle lines have already been drawn at the University of Michigan as that school prepares to host a national student conference on the "Palestine Solidarity Movement" this weekend. Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, or SAFE, is the registered student sponsor of the conference. According to its website, SAFE is a "diverse group of students, activists, and community members organized to promote justice, human rights, liberation and self-determination for the Palestinian people."

The group "condemns the racism and discrimination inherent in Zionism" and outlines its mission statement for the conference as promoting "divestment from Israel, ending U.S. aid to Israel and right of return." The website expresses tacit support for terrorism by stating, "As a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation." It further lists suggested "tactics" for conference attendees that include "education, public demonstrations and rallies" and "civil disobedience or direct action."

Among the panelists scheduled to speak at the conference is Sami Al-Arian, a tenured professor recently suspended by the University of South Florida amid a federal investigation into his suspected association with terrorist organizations. USF is suing for the right to terminate Al-Arian, claiming it can prove that he has maintained ties to terrorists for 14 years that have seriously damaged USF.