While the U.S. bankrolls the slow and steady ethnic cleansing of historical Palestine, protest against this is punished domestically.
Situated on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea in present-day Israel, Akka (known as Acre in English and Akko in Hebrew) “is different now,” Moussa, the 30-year-old owner of El-Mursa, a popular Palestinian seafood restaurant, told The Electronic Intifada.
“From the alleys of the old city to the coastal line, everything is changing. There is no comparison to when I was young. Even the history is being changed.”
Much of the city’s architecture dates back to the era when historic Palestine was under control of the Ottoman Empire.
The old city is also home to several mosques, khans (ancient inns), Turkish baths and a citadel, most of which are built atop structures that testify to Akka’s past as a crusader town.
These cultural treasures led the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to designate the old city as a “world heritage site” in 2001.
Yet local Palestinian residents accuse Israel of aiming to push them out of the old city so that it can be Judaized.
State-owned housing management companies are dishing out eviction orders as Israeli and foreign development companies buy up blocks of homes and undertake development projects across the city.
Although Jewish Israelis make up more than 70 percent of Akka’s total population, the old city is almost exclusively home to Palestinians.
Residents told The Electronic Intifada that state-owned housing management companies, such as Amidar and Akko Old City Development Company, regularly deny their applications for housing renovations. During inspections, the homes are subsequently deemed too dangerous to live in and the residents are given eviction orders.
Silverglate called it “laughable” for administrators to claim that students were terrified by the eviction notices — in his view a clear form of symbolic speech and protest.
“I don’t blame [SPJ] students for not following the rules,” he said. “It’s like in Russia or China when you have to get permission to hold a protest. I believe the administrators scrubbed the student handbook looking for something they can hang their hat on.”
Dorm distribution of fake eviction notices has become something of a staple in the playbook of pro-Palestinian groups around the country. But NEU is the first campus to penalize students for this tactic. Last year, the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee posted eviction notices on dorm doors. The year before, students at Florida Atlantic University and at Rutgers posted the same notices on their campuses. All three incidents were investigated. But none of the schools took any actions against the groups involved.
Silverglate said he thought the SPJ students had a legal case notwithstanding Herbeck’s point that NEU was a private university, not a public or government entity.
“Under Massachusetts state law a private university (such as Northeastern) is obligated to treat its students with a certain minimal degree of fairness, and it seems to me that Northeastern fails this test,” he wrote in an email. “Further…as a liberal arts university purportedly devoted to academic freedom, [NEU] has an arguable implied contractual agreement with its students to grant them such freedom.”