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Op-Ed: Palestinians behind SR-S18-21

student government

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George Washington University

campus

Op-Ed: Palestinians behind SR-S18-21

Submission about SR-S18-21

4.16.18

The following is a submission from a group of Palestinian students from Students for Justice in Palestine, regarding SR-S18-21. This opinion does not reflect the views of The Rival. The Rival does not take a stance on issues.

It is not safe to be Palestinian on this campus. We go by fake names to minimize the risk of being blacklisted and banned from visiting our families. Photos are taken of us without our consent by people we do not know and distributed to people we can only assume do not have our best interests at heart. We are called terrorists after any mention of children suffering in our hometowns, and our cultural scarves are called anti-Semitic. A heavy wall we used to represent the Apartheid wall, was thrown on us in a clear attempt to harm our physical well-being.

By silencing Palestinian voices, there is no doubt in the world that some students on this campus have managed to make the importance of Palestinian human rights an afterthought. Every day our physical and mental pain is claimed to somehow infringe upon the safety and legitimization of Zionist students on this campus. Our experiences on campus mirror the conflict: unbalanced and unequal. We are always expected to condemn every act of violence from the Palestinian side, as we watch students uplift and empower our oppressors.

We are using this anonymous outlet to tell you who we are. We have lived through the Second Intifada, Operation Cast lead, Operation Protective edge and every other series of military attacks carried out by the Israeli military on Palestinians. Some of us have seen Gaza under blockade, not from a settlement observatory, but on the ground, between the rubble. We have seen buildings that we once celebrated birthdays in, bombed to the ground. We have experienced trauma first-hand and through our parents. We go through our days as if our PTSD and anxiety have no effect on us. We have suffered through apartheid, occupation, and war, and most often must stay silent about our experience because this campus has created a climate of fear. We have to "come out as Palestinian," and doing so is to put ourselves at risk.

Last year, during the “Advancement of Palestinian Human Rights Act” resolution hearing, we were dehumanized for 6 hours before the decision to “have more dialogue” surrounding our human rights was made. On a campus on which our voices are continually silenced and our identities continually attacked, the conversation on Palestine has been ongoing for 70 years. On our campus, dialogue is often used as a justification to delay action. But dialogue is not an unfettered good; we want action. So while Zionist students call for more conversations, settlements get built. We lose access to potable water, new checkpoints spring up, another wall is built, and our power to resist is diminished. We do not have time.

Unsurprisingly, the talk surrounding the need for “dialogue” only rose around the time that our divestment bill was brought up. Petitions against SR-S18-21 claim“unyielding support" to Palestinian security and other basic rights, but in actuality function as a way to silence us. Where was even the recognition of our existence before we launched Divest this Time? Where were these requests for dialogue after a student was forced to take down his Palestinian flag? Where on this campus was the concern after a heavy wall was thrown on us? Where was the outcry when we were called terrorists? The importance of our existence and physical safety should not be overlooked or delayed in the name of “dialogue.” It is detrimental to our mental and emotional well-being to sit through coffee and conversation with individuals who use their words to deny the legitimacy of our human rights.

To conclude this testimony we have one ask. If you have ever claimed to promote just peace and true democracy, we urge you to extend your support to Palestinians like us on this campus by supporting the the George Washington University divestment from all companies that are complicit in the occupation of our land and our people.




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