Monday, April 29, 2024

“And if we don’t get it – SHUT IT DOWN”: University students rally for a new world


Palestine solidarity student activism university hope encampments Gaza genocide moral courage defiance

“Please keep going because you are our only hope. And we promise we will hold our ground and tell you the truth, always,” says Bisan Owda, a Palestinian journalist who has reported live from Gaza, fled bombs, held children, flocked to and from tents, sobbed, and starved for over 200 days of genocide.

Owda is in a dimly lit tent, a keffiyeh around her shoulders, her dark curls pulled back. Her face is strained. The bags beneath her eyes are deep and hollow out her cheeks. Her gaze is fierce, emboldened by the student encampments raging across American campuses. The encampments mark the first time that Owda has felt hope for an end to the 75-year illegal occupation of Palestine.

“I’m 25 years old. I’ve lived my whole life in the Gaza Strip, and I have never felt hope like now. Never. It’s a magical feeling running in my veins right now, in my head… These universities around America and the world are stronger than the last occupation in history. And for the first time in our lives as Palestinians, we hear a voice louder than their voices and the sound of their bombs, and even stronger than their control in all aspects of our lives.”

The encampments began at Columbia University on April 17. Students demanded that their university divest from companies that fund the Israeli military’s international law violations in Palestine.

The tents have been described as “a village built overnight.” The communal identity of the encampments, though formed by the call for divestment from genocide, stretches beyond. Life within the tents shows an open-hearted, peaceful, organized, and fiercely humanist community. It has been called an “experiment in true actual democracy”.

There are morning assemblies by the encampment leaders; lectures and guest speakers; a first aid tent; meals and snacks; movies and pets; Passover celebrations and Shabbats for the Jewish students; and spaces for Muslim students to pray. A student living in the encampments describes them as “shaping our collective future together as students.”

“It’s children and youth who are leading the movement now for a free Palestine, putting everything they have on the line to demand justice and end of the genocide and a new era of the world not based on oppression or exploitation or colonialism,” says Owda in the Instagram video.  (more...)

“And if we don’t get it – SHUT IT DOWN”: University students rally for a new world

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