“Dammi Falastini,” a song about Palestinian pride by Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf, echoed around Flint Loop as students gathered last Friday for UB Amnesty International’s “Free Palestine” march from North Campus to South Campus .
The annual march, led by the Muslim Student Association in previous years, was held on Friday to protest against human rights abuses in Palestine and the US foreign military aid policy. Over the years, students have marched for various causes such as Yemen, Kashmir and Myanmar.
Students from universities across the country, including Vanderbilt University, the University of Michigan and St. John’s University, also showed their support.
Zanaya Hussian, president of Amnesty International, expected more resistance and no support from the administration, but was “pleasantly surprised” at the support and participation in the cause.
“I decided to come today because I am passionate about Palestinian culture and identity does not fade from history,” said Nadya Elhalawany, a student of biological sciences. “Slowly and slowly, over time, Palestine is kind of evaporating because [the] the media does not cover the problems and the occupation. I think these events are useful and important to make sure people always know that Palestinians exist and deserve the right to live.
Elhalawany shared that she thinks the university can show support by promoting similar events and minority clubs, citing a lack of resources to foster student engagement at club events.
At 4:30 p.m., the students gathered at Flint Loop. Signs were provided to protesters who did not bring their own.
The students began their march to South Campus about an hour later, followed by university police alongside the participants with a police cruiser and an officer on a bicycle.
Students shouted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “Stop the aid, stop the millions, it only kills civilians” as they marched through the streets of Buffalo.
Many cars honked in support of the movement, with one driver waving his fist and shouting “Yeah! »
After arriving at South Campus, the students headed to Room 114 of Wende Hall for Mahgrib, a prayer Muslims observe at sunset.
UB Amnesty International Secretary Zach Day and Treasurer Kevin Smith then gave a presentation on the historical context of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians faced displacement permanent after the establishment of the State of Israel.
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“Being Jewish, I felt it was an outlet to try to understand the world and my relationship to the world,” Day said. “It’s not a matter of either side.”
UB Amnesty Vice President Jasmin Gill cited an Amnesty International report on Israeli laws and policies such as segregation, “administrative detention” and forced displacement, amounting to apartheid against the palestinians under international law.
The report compares the ongoing violations to racial segregation in South Africa due to a “special interest” in Israeli governance deliberately structured to oppress and dominate Palestinians.
A statement released by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on October 20 corroborated that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel, was illegal after leading a investigation into alleged violations of international law by Israel May 27, 2021.
English professor James Holstun has expressed the importance of accurately characterizing Israel’s human rights abuses against the Palestinians as apartheid given the self-censorship the mainstream engages in surrounding the topic .
“Imagine trying to fight slavery, apartheid or capitalism without being able to say slavery, apartheid or capitalism,” Holstun said in a speech at the event.
Holstun spoke with Spectrum after the demonstration. He recalls feeling compelled to delve into Palestinian liberation after six Yemenis from Lackawanna were convicted of al-Qaeda connections in 2002, which compelled him to learn more.
Since then, Holstun has written pieces for the Electronic Intifadaa publication that reports on Palestinian culture and current affairs, and works on a separate collection of essays on Palestinian novelist Sahar Khalifeh and Israeli novelist S. Yizhar.
To draw attention to Palestinian legislative dispossession, Hussian introduced the club’s Write for Rights letter-writing campaign in which they will ask Senator Chuck Schumer to condition US funding for Israel’s defense on Israel’s compliance with the international human rights law.
Hussian was inspired by the success of this march and hopes to organize another one.
“It has renewed my passion for the cause and I definitely feel empowered,” Hussian said.
Holstun encourages students who wish to continue advocating for Palestine to do their research.
“Read. Read. Read. Read Israeli newspapers. Read Palestinian newspapers,” Holstun said. “Read Electronic Intifada. Read the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz. Get an idea of the controversies. Get an idea of the debates. They are exciting, they are intellectually stimulating, they are continuous.
Tenzin Wodhean is the fact checker and can be contacted at [email protected]
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