Approximately 30 people gathered on the steps on the Student Union chanting “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes” yesterday evening to show their solidarity with Gaza.
Using the top of the stairs as a stage, attendees delivered speeches and sang songs about what they said is a need to end the violence in the Gaza region. Many people also spoke about the need to end what they viewed as the occupation of Palestine.
“I’d like to point out that, as well as Palestinians being innocently killed on Gaza land, there are Israelis being killed innocently as well,” said junior Dema Hakim into the megaphone yesterday. “This is a direct result of the Israeli occupation and oppression in Palestine. You are losing your own people.”
As the president of the Arab Students Club, Hakim was one of the organizers of the rally.
“We felt as the Arab Students Club, we had to take a stand with our people back home,” said Hakim, who noted that she was pleased with the attendance at the event.
Hakim has followed what has been happening in Gaza over the past six years, and she said that for her, the recent Israeli airstrikes into the region were the last straw. She said that she hopes that raising awareness in the United States will help to end the unrest.
“None of it is right,” she said. “It’s not a war, it is a massacre.”
Others at the rally talked about the killing of children – a consequence of the conflict that has been heavily reported on by media outlets – and the United States’ support for Israel.
“This is our money that is supporting Israel,” said Mount Holyoke sophomore Nikita Mitchell.
While upset about the influence of American money in the conflict, Mitchell said that was not her reason for attending the rally.
“I’m here because I don’t think people should die,” she said. “It’s simple, very simple.”
Emotions were charged at the rally, with small groups of people gathering at the fringes of the rally to debate the issue.
One such person was UMass student Roy Aloni, who is Israeli. For the most part, Aloni quietly watched the rally, but when anyone engaged with him, he would offer his opinion on the situation.
“I believe these people are ignorant,” he said. “This issue is way more complicated than they make it out to be.”
Aloni does not view the current situation in the region as an occupation, but said that he had given up on convincing others at the rally to see things his way.
“I just don’t know what to say to them because it’s not going to help,” he said.
After the sun set, attendees at the rally – which included both Five College students and members of the community – lit candles while continuing to engage in songs and chants that demonstrated their support for Palestinians. The rally dissolved about 5:45 p.m.
It lasted for approximately one hour and 15 minutes.
Since the conflict flared up earlier this month, several rallies have sprung up in the Valley to support both sides of the conflict. On Friday, a similar rally took place on the steps of the Student Union, although at that rally supporters of Israel “almost outnumbered” those supporting Palestinians, according to Hampshire College student Madeline Burrows, who is a part of the Western Mass Coalition for Palestine.
Over the weekend, there was a march in Northampton from Lampron Park to the steps of city hall to support Palestinians.
Students at Hampshire College are organizing a teach-in for next week, according to Burrows, who noted that this is only the beginning.
Katie Landeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.