Silent demonstration honors those killed in Gaza
February 19, 2009 2:06 PM
Engrossed in the masqueraded dead bodies in front of Malcolm X Plaza, students witnessed a silent demonstration to remember those who died during the Gaza conflict that began last December.
Several representatives of the General Union of Palestinian Students and other student organizations lay on the concrete draped in white shirts smeared with fake blood. Plastic bloody baby dolls blanketed the floor.
"This is strictly just a reminder that 1,300 people died in Gaza and 5,000 have been injured - many in critical condition," said Chris Kazaleh, a Palestinian-American student who helped organize the demonstration. "This is injustice."
The conflict began on December 27, 2008 and lasted 22 days. A reported 1,300 people were killed, many of which were Palestinian.
The peaceful demonstration was spearheaded by GUPS but also had other non-Palestinian students present.
"It's a crime against humanity," Kazaleh. "The Afrikaners - the Dutch - were calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist. They're doing the same thing to Palestinians. They're calling us terrorists."
"It's a peaceful demonstration on both sides," said Aaron Ackerman, cultural chair of the Israel Coalition. "I think it highlights that death is horrible, casualties are horrible."
Ackerman said that his goal in showing up to the event was to "talk to people from the other side to show Israel's empathy."
"I say there is a tension, but it comes from a lack of dialogue between the two groups," he continued. "There might be pro-Israel people on this campus that are racist. There might be people who only see the side that Israel is telling them. But there are also tons of Jews and pro-Israel people on this campus that don't see that."
International student Faris Viab shared his sentiments on life back in Palestine. "The thing about over there, it's way different than here," he said. "If you want to go from here to downtown San Francisco, you would have to go through three of four checkpoints. A half-hour trip takes you three-four hours."
"I think it's a positive thing that there is a student group on campus that is revealing the truth about what is going on in the world," said Nestor Castillo, a Raza Studies major who observed the event.
But amid the signs and flags, one young woman in the crowd wore a shirt reading "Whites, Blacks...Christians, Muslims...Just kick it."
"Her shirt," Ackerman pointed. "We should all just kick it."
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