Students speak out about Palestine-Israel conflict

Matt Lofgren

Correction: An incorrect reference to “Palestine” has been removed from this version of the story. Several other facts pertaining to the conflict between Israel and Hamas have been clarified.

Students demonstrated in Risman Plaza and in front of the M.A.C. Center Tuesday to raise knowledge of the recent escalation in missile attacks in Gaza and Israel. The area has been in turmoil since the establishment of the state of Israel by the United Nations in 1948.

Members of the Golden Flashes for Israel and Students for Justice in Palestine stood about 150 yards from each other to convey two very different stories.

An increase in missile attacks from Gaza into Israel is due to Israel’s “Pillar of Defense” offensive strikes on the extremist group Hamas in Gaza. Hamas has responded with increased missile launches on Israeli civilian targets.

“Mainly we came out here to educate our campus, Kent students, about the current events in the Gaza Strip and about the occupation in general with the situation in Palestine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Nidal Atallah, a graduate student in geology and president of the Students for Justice in Palestine. “Also, to emphasize that what’s happening right now is a humanitarian catastrophe and that their voices matter and that we can no longer accept that a children and civilian population be bombed.”

Several members of the SJP held signs and passed out information. One sign had the number of children killed in Gaza this week while another sign read “End Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine.”

While the SJP was demonstrating in Risman Plaza, Robert Weitzner and members of the Golden Flashes for Israel were in front of the M.A.C. Center with a petition that asked students if they “felt that Israel had the right to protect itself against terrorism.”

Written on the petition was “We, the undersigned, believe that Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorism.” While one member of the GFI said she didn’t experience any nasty run-ins; if people didn’t want to sign the petition, they simply declined.

“I am not a supporter of Hamas,” Atallah said. “Not a single bit of me is a supporter of Hamas.”

Hamas missiles from Gaza can strike an area up to 60 miles from their launch sites. The United States helped Israel develop the “Iron Dome” defense system to knock out incoming missiles.

According to Weitzner, the GFI planned out this demonstration three days ago. Yesterday, the SJP tweeted “Emergency meeting at 6pm tonight to discuss the situation in #Gaza and what we can do about it here on campus.”

University police were on hand, but no incidents were reported.

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected].