Mason students speak out about Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Mason students held a protest on North Plaza on Thursday, Nov. 15 (photo courtesy of Alex Perry).
Mason students held a protest on North Plaza on Thursday, Nov. 15 (photo courtesy of Alex Perry).

In light of recent operations by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip, dozens of students attended a Nov. 15 protest on the Gaza Strip held at George Mason University's North Plaza.

The recent Israeli military actions are directed at Hamas, the Islamic political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces have conducted missile-strikes in the area, while Israeli cities have been targeted by Hamas rocket-fire.

Protestors took turns discussing their opinions about the crisis, some shedding tears as they expressed their sympathy for the people of Gaza.

Several protesters held hand-drawn signs saying "the Israeli tanks will never crush the Palestinian spirit" and "Gaza under attack by Israel."

The series of speeches was accompanied by chants of "No more nickels, no more dimes, not another dollar for Israel’s crimes," and "from the river to the sea, the Gaza strip will be free."

Senior global affairs major Hala Numan, one of the organizers of the protest, said that it was a part of an "international call for solidarity" to support the people of Gaza against Israel’s military campaign.

"It's about having a worldwide solidarity movement for the people of Gaza against the Israeli crimes," said Numan. "We are trying to stand together and show the world that Israel’s crimes are not going to go unheard."

Adam Proctor, a graduate student studying sociology and another one of the organizers, claimed that Israel’s actions are a part of an agenda against the Palestinians.

"We believe that the Israeli government is purposefully trying to provoke a response by Hamas so they can justify an all out air and ground assault to further destroy the ability of Palestinians to survive," Proctor said.

Supporters of Israel were present at the event. They distributed leaflets detailing the recent missile strikes against Gaza. Some of these supporters considered the rhetoric of the protestors "radical."

"I think it's very hostile towards people that advocate for Israel," said Morgan Silverstein, a freshman and one of the leaflet distributors. "Instead of blaming people and who's at fault, they should focus on the overall idea of pushing for peace and for the bombings and terror to stop."

According to the distributors, the leaflets were an attempt to provide more information to people that attended the protest so they could make informed opinions on the situation.

"It's really important that they don't just get one very radical side of the story without hearing the information of what's coming from the other side," said Miriam Capon, a junior who was also distributing leaflets. "It's good to have that balance so that they can form their own opinions."

Capon also disagreed with the rhetoric of the protest, but is sympathetic towards the Palestinian people and hopes for peace.

"Personally I feel for all of the students out here in support for the Palestinians," Capon said. "I want peace for the Palestinians just as much as I want peace for Israel."

According to Numan, their use of social media is what caught the attention of Mondo Weiss.com, a website that focuses on Middle East politics and awareness. The website featured their protest at Mason, which helped raise awareness of the event.

"Social media is a huge part of it because that's how [mondoweiss.com] heard about us," Numan said.

Many of the people that attended the protest planned to attend a march in D.C. later the same day, according to Numan.

"It's meeting at the State Department and marching to the White House I believe," Numan said.

Protestors intend to continue their campaign to raise awareness at Mason about the ongoing crisis, and will organize those efforts using social media.

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