Creating peace between rivals
It was one of the bloodiest summers.
On the other side of the world, underground tunnels were demolished with explosives as thousands of rockets hurtled across the sky. The conflict between Israel and Gaza turned to violence and war once again.
ASU students decided to take action. The Arizona State Chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine gathered on July 11 on College and Mill avenues to protest the conflict.
Many would call it a massacre.
According to The New York Times, 1,881 Palestinians and 67 Israelis were killed during the conflict as of Aug. 8.
The theme of the students' protest was enough is enough, chemical engineering senior and president of SJP, Ibrahim Halloum, says. He and an estimated 300 protesters from diverse parts of the community gathered to hand out flyers in rebuttal to the conflict happening in Gaza and Israel.
SJP quickly gathered and made signs to protest the conflict and to raise awareness to the Palestinian side of the war. The flyer deemed it a war crime and a human-rights violation.
The flyer described Israel's reasons for the invasion as retaliation against three teenage boys who were later found to be murdered by members of Hamas, an organization that the FBI has marked as a terror organization. The flyer stated Israel was collectively punishing all Palestinians within Gaza through bombings, raids and illegal arrests.
Halloum and SJP want to raise awareness of the peaceful side of this conflict and the flyer noted that millions of Palestinians are vying for a peaceful end through boycotts and sanctions.
Justice studies graduate Pieter Turley joined SJP three weeks ago because he says he cares deeply about Muslim and Israeli cultures.
Turley says that he wants to see human rights realized in Palestine.
“Even though I’m not Israeli, not Jewish, not Palestinian, not Muslim, it still is an issue that is close to my heart,” Turley says.
The three main goals of SJP, both nationally and for the ASU chapter, are to bring awareness and advocacy for justice in Palestine, Halloum says.
The three things Halloum and SJP wish to bring awareness to are: the right of return of refugees, equal rights for Palestinians within Israel and end of occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
These three goals of awareness that SJP hopes to see realized one day are not personal goals, Halloum says. This is international law and this is where student participation comes in to bring those goals to fruition, he says.
Halloum says that they will continue to strive for these goals even as the conflict has wound down into a cease-fire. They will have weekly meetings where Halloum encourages anyone to go and learn about Palestine.
On the other side of the conflict, Sun Devils for Israel would also like to bring awareness and education to the table as well.
Finance and accounting senior Jared Hirschl is the president of Sun Devils for Israel. He says that many members were either in Israel or across the country during the summer. The group kept them informed while also participating in rallies at Jewish centers across the valley.
Hirschl says that SDI wants to be a hub for people to talk and get unbiased information about the conflict.
“We’re definitely critical about what Israel does,” Hirschl says. “We’re a place they can come to if they have questions about what’s going on.”
Hirschl says the ultimate goal of peace in the Middle East will be brought with education.
SDI tries to reach out to various members of the community and Hirschl says they have non-Jewish, Christian and Muslim members.
Along with student involvement SDI brings guest speakers onto campus to speak about Israel, stating that they are the U.S.’s ally and giving reasons why the U.S. should support Israel.
Both groups have events where students can come and learn a great deal about the two factions. SDI has Israel 101 and SJP has a Palestine 101 event.
With SDI being pro-Israel Hirschl says he would personally like to see Hamas de-militarized, a goal that many across the world would want to see realized. And SJP wants to ultimately see the two-state solution of Israel and Palestine, Halloum says.
In the meantime, the two groups will use peace and education to help their goals come into fruition.
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