For members of the Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, or SAFE, the Palestinian student activist group on campus, being on the opposite end of the world didn’t seem to be far enough to keep them away from tensions currently impacting their home.
As the activist group gathered at the rock on Farm Lane on Tuesday to bring attention to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and channel support for an anticipated cease-fire that might lead to its end, four students began painting a Star of David on the rock a few feet away from them. The tension was palpable, but the two groups ignored each other.
Despite the differences dividing the two groups, international relations senior and SAFE President Chris Burnett said the event was a chance to direct sympathy to the victims of the conflict.
“We hosted this event to both raise awareness about the conflict (and) to show solidarity for Palestinians who are suffering from the attacks,” he said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Israel on Tuesday to help further peace negotiations, but a cease-fire agreement was not made as of press time Wednesday.
Jewish Student Union Vice President Brad Verona said the lack of willingness to communicate between the two sides only furthers the conflict and makes a resolution more difficult.
“I’m very saddened to see violence erupt in Israel,” said Verona, who did not protest at the rock Tuesday. “I know people my own age living in Israel. So it’s especially hard for me to decide which side is right or wrong.”
Throughout the early evening, SAFE members and students honored the victims who have lost their lives during the attacks by lighting candles and showcasing signs that listed each of their names.
The Israel-Palestinian conflict has been a major topic of interest following an air assault launched by Israel against Hamas, the political leadership in the Gaza Strip, on Nov. 14, which ended a four-year cease-fire.
Although several protesters were unsure whether a cease-fire will develop soon, many voiced their hope for change in the future. For Arabic and comparative cultures and politics senior Angelina Mosher, who also visited Palestine during the summer, this optimism reflects a responsibility students should feel about bringing change.
“You can’t come back (from) an experience like (going to Palestine) and see what’s going on in Gaza and not feel bad,” she said. “(This event) is just to stand in solidarity for the people in Gaza and show that the world is not turning a blind eye.”