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Students from the Freedom School for Palestine deliver a lecture on pinkwashing at Blanche P. Levy Park on Feb. 14.

Credit: Chenyao Liu

Freedom School for Palestine, a pro-Palestinian advocacy group at Penn, hosted the first in a series of weekly Lightning Lectures for Palestine on Wednesday. 

The fifteen-minute talk took place outside Van Pelt Library and drew about 15 attendees. Wednesday’s lecture focused on the concept of pinkwashing, a term used by pro-Palestinian activists.

“We’re hoping to make this a weekly thing where we just try to educate people about Palestine,” College senior and Freedom School participant Sparrow Starlight told The Daily Pennsylvanian. “Anybody who wants to speak should have that opportunity.”

For Wednesday’s lecture, Starlight read aloud an excerpt from an article from the website discussing the term "pinkwashing" and the role it plays in Palestinian activism. Pinkwashing — a twist on the term "greenwashing" — describes when a state or organization "appeals to LGBTQ+ rights to deflect attention from its harmful practices,” according to the article. 

“The pinkwashing of Israel relies on the understanding that the East remains stubbornly backward regarding homosexuality because of a refusal to learn from Western progressivism,” Starlight said to the group.

Starlight told the DP that their goal is to welcome students, faculty, and outside community members to speak at the Lightning Lectures. They compared the programming to the workshops and education from the month-long Freedom School for Palestine sit-in that occurred this fall.

“We had faculty and people coming in all the time to educate us about all sorts of things related to Palestine,” they said.

They added that the lectures should mark the start, rather than the extent of, an individuals' education about Palestinians. 

Freedom School for Palestine was first established on Nov. 14, when a group of Penn students, faculty, staff, and alumni gathered in Houston Hall to offer programming highlighting Palestinian voices in protest of the University’s response to the Israel-Hamas war. They alleged that Penn was failing to support Palestinian voices.

“The Freedom School creates a space that platforms Palestinian voices and the fight for Palestinian Liberation, since there have been no University efforts to this end,” the group wrote in an initial press release. The group’s main demands were a ceasefire in Gaza, free speech protection at Penn, and the institution of “freedom of thought on Palestine,” according to the release. The sit-in continued through the end of the fall semester. 

“Our collective liberation is bound with the liberation of all oppressed people and we stand in solidarity with Palestine,” Starlight said at the lecture. The event concluded with chants of “Free Free Palestine.” 

Freedom School for Palestine’s additional upcoming programming will be announced throughout the semester, Starlight said.

Editor's note: After publication, a source in this article requested that their last name be updated. The article has been updated to reflect this change.