Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner will visit to Israel this weekend as part of the American Jewish Committee Project Interchange. She’ll travel with mayors from nine other U.S. cities, and meet with local and national leaders and non-profits in Israel. But there are some who don’t want Miner to go.
Protesters held a teach-in on the steps of City Hall Wednesday, and called on Miner to skip her trip to Israel. Protester and Syracuse University professor Mara Sapon-Shevin says Israel needs to be accountable for the way it treats Palestinians in the Israeli-controlled West Bank.
“What’s going on right now with the occupation is not acceptable,” said Sapon-Shevin. “It’s deadly to lots of people. It destroys the Palestinians, and it distorts Israel itself, in terms of being an oppressor and a colonizer.”
Sapon-Shevin said she would like to see Miner ask critical questions about the treatment of Palestinians, so she gets a fuller picture of what’s happening.
“Like, ‘Where the Palestinians? When will I meet the Palestinian leaders? Do Palestinians have a right of return like Jews have a right of return? What’s the situation with Gaza right now? Talk to me about the military here and how they are used to suppress the Palestinians’,” she said.
Miner said she will still go on the trip, but is listening to the protesters.
“Even if there is somebody saying something that I disagree with, which happens quite a bit as a Mayor, I have learned firsthand, that that American value of listening, having people exercise the right of free speech trumps all of the rest of it, and that’s how we as a free society are able to have one out of many,” said Miner.
Miner leaves on Saturday and is expected to return to Syracuse September 16.