Student for Justice in Palestine reacts to violence in Middle East, holds rally on Mudd Field

| Contributing Reporter

In an effort to show solidarity to the Palestinian people and respond to the recent actions of the Pro-Israel group Wash U Students for Israel (WSI), Students for Justice in Palestine, one of the newer student groups on campus, held a rally outside of Danforth University Center last Thursday.

The “Peaceful Demonstration/Safe Space” assembly drew about 15 supporters to Mudd Field on Thursday at noon. Members of the group posed for a picture with the Palestinian flag, while holding signs on either side.

The goal of the event was to provide solace for those troubled by the recent attitude towards Palestinian issues.

“WashU Students for Justice in Palestine would like to offer a peaceful space for those feeling threatened by the dominant discourse surrounding events in Palestine and to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” the event’s description read.

Signs held by participants varied in content but included statements such as, “resistance is not a crime” and, invoking controversy over a panel cancelled by the Missouri History Museum in March, “From Ferguson to Palestine.”

Additionally, supporters of SJP displayed a sign that read “peace and justice #endoccupation,” making reference to a hashtag that has gained steam on Twitter in recent weeks as a result of growing tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

The rally was a reaction to both recent actions and increasing violence between Israelis and Palestinians. In recent weeks, clashes have become more violent and prominent in the greater Jerusalem area.

After posing for a picture with an outstretched flag, junior and vice president Sam Wexler and senior and president Stephanie Aria addressed the group, calling for an alternative view of a conflict that they feel has been turned into a one-sided affair at Washington University.

“We wanted not just to show solidarity with the Palestinian people but we also wanted to reiterate the idea that this group can be an autonomous body that doesn’t have to deal with interference with other groups,” Wexler said.

Wexler’s comments come amidst what SJP has felt to be an increasingly hostile relationship between SJP and Washington University Students for Israel.

In recent weeks, WSI requested that SJP condemn the actions of other SJP chapters throughout the country for what they believe has amounted to supporting terrorism.

SJP refused to do so, arguing that WSI does not have the right to dictate how it will act as an independent student organization.

“You don’t get to lord over us and tell us what to do. I understand that that’s how it’s always worked on this campus, but we don’t find that acceptable,” Wexler told Student Life.

This sentiment was once again echoed at SJP’s recent gathering on Mudd Field by Aria.

“We want to be able to do our own thing without being obstructed by other groups on campus,” Aria said.

Additionally, the organization held its rally on Thursday as a seeming concession to WSI, which held its own rally Wednesday.

“We wanted to have our own separate showing of support. We intentionally didn’t do [the rally] on the same day as WSI had theirs so as to not step on their toes,” Wexler said.

This coming Thursday, SJP will be co-hosting an apolitical vigil for the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians who have been killed in the raging conflict.

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