Palestinian student group protests Israeli cultural event on campus
Middle Eastern tensions flared up at MSU Wednesday night when members of a Palestinian student group protested an Israeli cultural event.
Protesters say they took issue with the tagline “Blooming the Desert."
“(The tagline) implies that Israel came from the desert, they came to nothing,” vice president of SJP Raneem Ahmad said. “In reality they came to a civilization and burned down hundreds of villages, exiled two million Palestinians and killed thousands of people in order for their desert to bloom.”
The state of Israel was proclaimed by Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion in 1948 after massive immigration to British Palestine following World War II and the Holocaust.
Israel Fest is an annual event that celebrates Israeli culture. MSU Hillel and the Associated Students of Michigan State University co-sponsored the event.
The protesters chanted phrases like: “from Palestine to Mexico, bordered walls have got to go,” “we want justice, you say how, end the siege on Gaza now,” “free, free Palestine” and “Netanyahu what do you say, how many kids have you killed today.”
Most Israel Fest attendees seemed unfazed.
“It kind of happens every year,” chair of Team Israel Programming Committee Jessica Sherbin said. “We just want everyone to come and enjoy themselves and have a good time.”
SJP protesters handed out flyers claiming the the Israeli Defense Force killed many Palestinian children and used poison gas.
Israel Fest representatives handed out flyers in response, which said SJP’s leaders “support genocidal terrorists” and that “SJP calls for the total eradication of Israel.”
Ahmad protested for personal reasons.
“As a Palestinian living in the diaspora I feel like it’s my job to give my people and myself a voice,” she said. “Within America, we are Americans and we are also Palestinians. ... This isn’t a Muslim/Jewish issue, this is a Palestinian/Israeli issue, this is a humanitarian issue."
Political theory and constitutional democracy junior and protester Zaza Saad said she was impressed with the turnout.
“We’re just a student group giving a voice to those who have been silenced for so long,” Ahmad said.