Palestinian journalist to speak at GV

GVL / Courtesy -

GVL / Courtesy –

Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian-American journalist, will speak at Grand Valley State University at noon today in Room 2215/2216 in the Kirkhof Center. The event is free and open to the public.

GVSU English professor David Alvarez is an affiliate faculty of the Middle East Studies program and works as a representative of Healing Children in Conflict, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit that provides medical treatment for children injured in conflicts involving the U.S. HCC partnered with Calvin College and GVSU to bring Abunimah to the area.

Alvarez said Abunimah will focus on the most recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the solutions that are needed to achieve peace.

“The recent conflict in Gaza is a clear indication of the sheer disproportion in the suffering experienced by both sides,” Alvarez said. “While we know for certain that around 60,000 Gazans have been made homeless, the precise extent of the damage to the physical infrastructure is still being assessed.”

He explained that many people do not know much about the conflict, and if they do, they often hear a one-sided account that favors Israel.

“It’s a conflict in which successive U.S. governments have been deeply involved,” Alvarez said. “Rarely do we hear a Palestinian perspective. Wherever students stand on the issue, or wherever they think they stand, listening to one of the most informed commentators on the conflict express his views can only prove to be an educational experience.”

Meagan Roche, a senior at GVSU, is the president of GVSU Peace M.E.ans, a student organization that uses education and advocacy to raise awareness about the conflicts between Israel and Palestine. The group is cosponsoring Abunimah’s speech with the GVSU Middle East Studies program.

Roche said she is looking forward to attending the speech because it is an important topic that many people may not understand.

“There are many facets that need to be expressed for full comprehension of the situation’s magnitude,” she said. “It’s an extremely complicated struggle that has stretched on (for) decades, and is rife with misunderstandings.”

She said it is important to hold an event like this on a university campus because students need to be aware of the violence that happens every day in the Middle East. In addition, she said, it will be interesting to see how students of diverse backgrounds contribute their perspectives and interpretations to the conversation.

“In the university setting, becoming aware of the issues or being challenged in your beliefs is essential in growth, whether it be personal, professional or academic,” Roche said.

Much of Abunimah’s talk will center on his newest book, The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Published in March, the book highlights the current Israeli-Palestinian conflicts in the Middle East. Abunimah discusses questions such as, “does Israel have a right to exist as a Jewish state?” and, “would Israeli Jews ever accept a single democratic state in which their colonial and ethno-religious privileges are removed?”

In 2001, Abunimah cofounded Electric Intifada, an independent nonprofit blog site that focuses on the conflicts between Israel and Palestine. The website shows Abunimah’s Palestinian perspective, which reflects the stance that the two-state solution is not appropriate. Instead, he supports a single democratic state that values equality.

For more information about the event, visit For more information about Ali Abunimah, visit his website at