Mideast commentator brings protest at CMU

Ali Abunimah. (Bill Wade/Post-Gazette)

Ali Abunimah, a writer and commentator on the Middle East and Arab-American affairs and co-founder of the Web site “Electronic Intifada,” laid out his opposition to a two-state solution to the Mideast peace process yesterday.

Abunimah, who lives in Chicago, where he is a graduate student, gave lectures yesterday at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. His appearance at Carnegie Mellon was picketed by about 40 Jewish students, most of whom went in to hear his lecture.

The Middle East peace process is phony, Abunimah said, because what Israel wants to do — with U.S. complicity — is to set up independent homelands similar to the apartheid system under white-ruled South Africa.

The Palestinian elections were a farce, he said, because Palestinians living outside of the Gaza and West Bank were not able to participate, and the deck had been stacked in favor of Palestine Liberation Organization leader Mahmoud Abbas. The apartheid system is so far advanced that a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is no longer possible, he told about 100 students.

What is needed is a unitary state in which Israelis and Palestinians would have equal rights, Abunimah said. “People say this would be like Yugoslavia,” he said. “But why couldn’t it be like Belgium?”

Jewish students aren’t upset that Abunimah was invited to speak at Carnegie Mellon, but are angry that the university officially sponsored him — and is sponsoring another anti-Israel speaker next month — without sponsoring anyone to present the opposite point of view, said Rachel Svinkelstin, 22, organizer of the protest.

“We feel that our voice is not being heard at all,” she said.

Jack Kelly can be reached at jkelly@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1476.

Related Links

  • Audio: Ali Abunimah speaks in Pittsburgh (4 February 2005)
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette