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Allowing a Mideast Conference at Georgetown

Friday, February 17, 2006

Regarding the Feb. 12 Close to Home commentary by Eric Adler and Jack Langer ["Why Is Georgetown Providing a Platform for This Dangerous Group?"] about the student conference being held on the Georgetown University campus this weekend:

First, Georgetown prizes its commitment to free speech and expression. Georgetown student groups and faculty have the right to invite speakers and conferences to campus in accordance with the university's speech and expression policy. This does not mean that the university endorses any speakers or their views.

Second, federal law enforcement authorities assured the university that allegations that the conference host, the Palestine Solidarity Movement, is connected to terrorism are false.

Third, Georgetown faculty and administrators will monitor the conference to ensure that both conferees and protesters comply with the university's policy on speech and expression.

Mr. Alder and Mr. Langer also said that Georgetown refused to host a conference for America's Truth Forum. In fact, Georgetown had no role in that decision. Decisions about that conference were made by Marriott Corp., which operates an independent hotel and conference center on campus.

ERIK SMULSON

Assistant Vice President for Communications

Georgetown University

Washington

·

Eric Adler and Jack Langer disparaged the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a movement that I co-founded in the spring of 2001 in the occupied territories of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem to help draw attention to the human rights abuses suffered by Palestinians as a result of Israel's occupation. The ISM also is a resource for Palestinian nonviolent resistance to the occupation. The ISM believes that average civilians can bring about change, and it tries to unite Palestinians, Israelis and other people in nonviolent resistance to Israel's occupation policies.

When I "acknowledged" that the ISM "cooperates with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine," I was offering concrete examples of the ways in which these groups were engaging in nonviolent resistance.

Both the ISM and the Palestine Solidarity Movement advocate nonviolent resistance to Israel's human rights abuses -- the ISM through organized action in the occupied territories and the PSM by promoting international divestment from companies that profit from occupation.

HUWAIDA ARRAF

Washington

·

The piece about the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM) conference that starts today at Georgetown University was misleading. PSM's organizers are people of all faiths and backgrounds. Many are Jews.

The PSM's Web site condemns racism and discrimination. Its FAQ page says, "The PSM does not support or endorse terrorism." The FBI does not consider the PSM to be a terrorist organization; nor does any other government agency.

The Close to Home commentary was nothing more than an attempt to stop Americans from hearing our message.

FADI KIBLAWI

Arlington

The writer is an organizer of the PSM conference at Georgetown University.

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