Students endeavor to raise awareness of the impacts of Israeli strikes on Palestinians
Heather Brown, The Oklahoma Daily
Since Wednesday, Nov. 14:
56 Palestinian civilians
225 Palestinian children
Source: Associated Press
The escalating violence in Gaza was brought to life Monday as members from various student organizations gathered on the South Oval to hold up posters with statistics and pictures from the conflict.
The goal of the demonstration was to raise student awareness about what’s happening to Palestine, said Kumail Alsaihati, management information systems senior and member of the Arab Student Association.
Israel has been attacking the homes of Hamas activists, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, since Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. A rising number of Palestinian civilians have found themselves caught in the conflict, and Israel and Hamas say they are prepared to escalate violence if a diplomatic solution is not reached.
Alsaihati said the demonstrators wanted to spread awareness about the conflict because the U.S. media tends to side with Israel, claiming Israel is acting in self-defense.
“Obama came out a couple days ago and said that Israel has the right to defend itself, but I don’t believe that anybody could see this and logically believe that,” said Sara Salem, energy management junior, as she held a sign with statistics of how many Palestinian civilians have been victims of Israeli violence.
Alsaihati said although Israel is claiming to be defending itself, Palestinians don’t even have weapons to use.
“A lot of people think that it’s just Palestinians trying to get Israel wiped off the map for no reason — just because we’re terrorists,” Salem said.
Petroleum engineering senior Abdulrahman Alsousy’s 18-year-old cousin died in Gaza two months ago on the day of his graduation, he said. He was going home to tell his mother he graduated, and he was shot in the head.
“I don’t think that was a self-defense situation,” Alsousy said.
One problem these students have had with raising awareness is when people repeat to them ideas they’ve heard that don’t align with the facts, Alsaihati said.
“Some people decide to ignore the facts that we present, and then they decide to stick with the idea that they had in mind already,” Alsaihati said.
Alsousy said a couple students passed by voicing stereotypes of what the media has told them about the situation, saying the parents of the victims in Palestine weren’t innocent.
“A lot of people have this idea from their church or their parents that they grew up in that Israel is the victim, and there’s no question about it,” Salem said.
Despite the negativity, a few people have approached the protestors with questions about the situation, but not as many as they had hoped, Alsousy said.
“Which is good, because it means people are actually trying to learn, but not as many people as we wanted,” Alsousy said.
The event was organized by the Arab Student Association, but members of other student organizations were involved, such as the Arabic Club, the Saudi Students Association, Sooners for Peace in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association, Alsaihati said.