Students show support for Palestine in Polk Place
Students are standing up and taking sides on the conflict occurring in the Gaza Strip.
In an event called Stand with Gaza, about 20 student demonstrators stood Monday in front of Wilson Library in an effort to raise awareness about recent clashes in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Palestine.
Leaders of UNC’s Students for Justice in Palestine, the student organization behind the demonstration, said they hoped the event would educate people about the conflict going on in the Palestinian territory.
“The point of the event is to raise awareness on the recent offense that Israel has taken,” said Samer Hjouj, president and co-founder of Students for Justice in Palestine.
“We want people to take sides — and to take the side of the oppressed,” he said.
Students involved in the event stressed the importance of creating awareness.
“The media here is really selective about what they report on this issue,” said junior Syem Barakzai, who found out about the event through Facebook.
Informing the public was a priority at the event.
“We want to make sure Americans are more informed about how deeply they are supporting this invasion,” said senior Chas Kissick, who attended the event.
Hjouj said Students for Justice in Palestine reached out to Hillel, a Jewish organization on campus, but Hillel declined to participate.
“When people need to work together for a cause, that should be a priority over politics,” Hjouj said.
But co-presidents of Hillel Kira Borman and Jodie Singer said it is against Hillel’s nationwide policy to co-sponsor any events with Students for Justice in Palestine.
“Of course our students are not prohibited from attending, and we do encourage open dialogue,” Borman said.
Borman said UNC’s Students for Justice in Palestine and Hillel have a good relationship compared to chapters at other campuses.
“In general, UNC has incredible relations between Jews and those who support Palestine,” she said.
Borman said one of Hillel’s missions is to support a Jewish and democratic state in Israel.
“Hillel in general supports Israel’s right to defend itself,” she said.
“You can’t really separate Israel right now from the Jewish people as a whole — we are a part of it and it is a part of us.”
While a great deal of conflict remains between Israelis and Palestinians, both student groups agree that too many innocent lives have been lost.
“We definitely regret the loss of civilian life on both sides,” said Borman.
Borman and Singer said Hillel supports the right for students to speak their minds.
“The situation is not black and white,” Borman said.
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