Today marks the close of Gaza Awareness Week on campus, which featured a series of events organized by UCSB Students for Justice in Palestine.
Students for Justice in Palestine, a campus club comprised of students and faculty devoted to the cause of the Palestinian people, hosted multiple events on campus this week to spread information about the 22-day war in Gaza known as Operation Cast Lead. Throughout the week, the group showed a film screening of “Occupation 101,” displayed photos in the Arbor, sponsored a lecture and hosted a candlelight vigil for victims of Operation Cast Lead.
Noor Aljawad, a first-year sociology and Middle East studies major, said it is critical that students understand the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“Gaza Awareness Week lends recognition to the fact that Israel’s attack on Gaza last year was not only disproportionate in the excessive force having been used but also an attack carried out indiscriminately, resulting in casualties including innocent men, women and children,” Aljawad said.
In December 2009, Hamas launched rockets into Israel, declaring an end to a six month period of peace. In reaction to this assault, Israel utilized their air force to attack Hamas. Many civilians were caught in the crossfire, leading to the death of approximately 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
Aljawad said although there has been a cease fire, life in Gaza is still difficult.
“This form of collective punishment also continues today, at this very moment, with the economic blockade that has been imposed on 1.5 million Gazans — 80 percent of whom live below the poverty line — by both the Israeli and Egyptian officials,” Aljawad said.
American Students for Israel at UCSB academic advisor Ami Cohen said his main concern for Gaza Awareness Week was that Students for Justice in Palestine may have skewed statistics about the war, blaming Israel excessively for Palestinian casualties.
“I have no problem with people being aware,” Cohen said. “The problem is that these types of events usually give very false propaganda, not facts. The events are weird in terms of the amount of attention they get, given that other problems are much more acute.”
This week, Students for Justice of Palestine created a display dedicated to the memory of the Israeli and Palestinian casualties. Painted stakes numbering 1,413 were displayed at the Storke Tower roundabout in honor of the dead.
Nadim Houssain, a first-year global studies major, said he believes the U.S.’s role in Gaza should be reexamined.
“It is imperative that all students become familiar with the atrocities going on in Gaza because they would not be taking place if it wasn’t for the billions of our own tax dollars that our government funds Israel with annually,” Houssain said.
SJP meets every Thursday in the Middle Eastern Resource Center located on the first floor of the Student Resource Building.