The Political Awareness Committee (PAC) brought human rights attorney Noura Erakat to deliver a talk titled "Trump's Deal of the Century: What's Next?" in Tomson Hall on Feb. 17. Erakat used a historical focus to contextualize the recent policies surrounding Israeli-Palestine relations and U.S. involvement.
PAC member Guadalupe Guerrero '21 introduced the event by discussing PAC's goal to include further conversations about U.S. involvement in foreign relations.
Erakat first discussed the history of Israeli-Palestinian policy, and how past U.S. presidential administrations have been laying the groundwork for current Israeli-Palestinian policies since 1967, which make Trump's latest policy seem less sudden.
Using United Nation Security Council (U.N.S.C.) Resolution 242 and the Oslo Accords as two examples of failed resolutions for the Palestinine people, Erakat placed much of the blame on international agreements.
These two accords are examples of what Erakat referred to as "Land for Peace agreements," where Palestinians are forced out of having a voice in the construction of their territory. Erakat connected this to the concept of a sovereignty trap, in which the simple acquisition of land is misconstrued as total power over territorial decision making for the Palestinian people.
Looking forward, Erakat called into question both one- and two-state solutions, claiming that to redraw or to revert to old territory lines would fail to correct the colonial legacy that has disenfranchised centuries of Palestinians.
With the 2020 U.S. presidential election looming in the near future, students questioned Erakat on her opinion of Bernie Sanders' support of the two-state solution. Erakat acknowledged the problems with supporting the two-state solution, as well as the difficulty of proposing a perfect solution, which she deemed was impossible. Erakat ultimately expressed that she was in support of Sanders for president.
Another student looked to Erakat for advice on how to combat pro-Israel perspectives that are prevalent on campus. Erakat discussed how dialogue on Palestine in academia is often silenced due to the layers of complexity that professors can face when choosing to speak for what they believe.
PAC hopes to continue dialogue and conversations about U.S. foreign involvement as it hosts future events and speakers.
"There's a consensus among the committee that we like to bring speakers who will bring needed conversations to campus that aren't otherwise had, and bring some incentive to start that conversation," Guerrero said.