Student spends break protesting conflict

Allison Smith

Civilian deaths and family ties to Gaza prompt her to action

Alia Awadallah, sophomore international relations major, protests against the attacks on Gaza’s civilians and children. Awadallah has protested in Akron and Washington D.C. to bring awareness to the condition of the civilians under attack. Katie Roupe | D

Credit: DKS Editors

Alia Awadallah wants to draw attention to the conflict occurring between Israel and Palestine. The sophomore international relations major focused all of her energy on organizing and participating in protests over winter break.

“People think that they’re far away, and it’s not hurting them,” Awadallah said. “But by allowing it to happen and sitting by and not standing up to what’s going on, you’re just as bad.”

The last two weeks of Awadallah’s break were spent protesting the civilian deaths. She traveled to Washington D.C. to protest at spots that included the White House, Caterpillar Construction Company and the Washington Post.

“That was a great protest,” Awadallah said. “It was amazing; there was so many people. You could hear them screaming down the street.”

They protested at Caterpillar because it provides aid to Israel. They protested at Washington Post because it had not reported on a previous protest in Washington D.C.

More than 3,000 people participated, but Awadallah said it hardly got news coverage.

“There was a little article on CNN and a little video clip,” Awadallah said. “It was online; there was nothing on actual TV.”

Awadallah has been exposed to the Palestine and Israel conflict her entire life. Both of her parents were born in Palestine but had to move to Jordan because of growing tension between their country and Israel.

Awadallah said she was more involved with protests when she was in high school, but she tries to continue her participation along with her college priorities.

“My high school was very political and active,” Awadallah said, “so I was always volunteering and going to protests and helping with elections. But I try to keep up in college, too.”

Awadallah is an officer on the council of the Muslim Student Association and is thinking about starting a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter.

Awadallah said her greatest pride was her role in organizing a protest in Akron. She called local radio stations, newspapers and television stations to get coverage. She and other members from the Muslim Student Association spread the word by going to mosques and events.

“It was a lot of work,” Awadallah said. “I’ve taken part in protests before, but I’ve never been in charge of it. There were so many things I had to call and ask if there were any local laws about it.”

The day of the protest was cold, Awadallah said. But she and the other participants kept each other’s spirits up by remembering the cause they were fighting for.

Awadallah chose a street just off of the University of Akron’s campus because of its proximity to a younger generation.

“If we don’t start young and educate the youth that are going to be in charge in a few years, then the same mistakes are going to happen again.”

Contact news correspondent Allison Smith at [email protected].