UC Santa Barbara student organizations hosted a Rally for Palestine  on Jan. 25 at the Arbor to advocate for Palestinian liberation. The event attracted around 50 students, faculty and staff as participants  and observers. 

A larger cloth banner showcases red handprints and a message of “UCSB Kills.” Asumi Shuda / Daily Nexus

The rally was held in response to Palestinian social media journalist Bisan Owda, who called for a global week of strike, according to UCSB Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Flyers for the rally called for “No school, no work, no shopping.” Free food was distributed at the rally.

“We have passed over 100 days of murder, displacement, and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people by the US-armed Zionist entity without calls for a permanent ceasefire,” SJP said in a statement to the Nexus. “We must keep Palestine at the forefront of our minds.”

SJP representatives and participants created a circular barrier around the group using bikes and banners. The attendees formed a ring inside the barrier, hoisting pro-Palestinian flags and signs. 

The signs included phrases like “Stop genocide in Gaza,” “End the occupation,” “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” among others. A larger cloth banner, held by two SJP representatives, showcased red handprints and the message “UCSB Kills.”  

The rally then began at noon with chants led by an SJP representative. 

“Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry, we will never let you die,” the chants rang. “Justice is our demand, no peace on stolen land.” 

Representatives then played recorded audio from Owda’s social media livestreams to the crowd. 

Members of the newly formed UCSB Jewish Voice for Peace addressed the crowd, 

acknowledging the significance of the day of the rally as Tu BiShvat, the Jewish holiday of celebrating trees. 

“However, on this day we cannot say we are celebrating Tu BiShvat without acknowledging that Israel has uprooted 70% of Gaza’s trees,” the speaker said.

They emphasized the ability of being both Jewish and anti-Zionist, and that Judaism is separate from Zionism.

“We reject the idea that you must support Israel to keep Jews safe. Jews do not need a nation-state that is occupying land and ethnically cleansing people,” the speaker said.

UCSB Muslim Student Association (MSA) members shared at the rally common misconceptions of Islam as a religion, such as the religion being “sexist” because women wear hijabs, and emphasized that the values of the religion place importance upon advocating for Palestinian liberation.

“Our religion teaches us to stand up for injustice, and when we see things that aren’t right, to speak up,” an MSA member said.

SJP said in the statement to the Nexus that the rally was a testament to the continued call for Palestine’s liberation. 

“Our rally shows that UCSB has not given up,” the statement read. “We are here answering the calls of Indigenous peoples everywhere and we will continue to fight for justice and liberation.” 

A version of this article appeared on p.3 of the Feb. 1, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.

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Asumi Shuda
Asumi Shuda (they/them) is the Co Lead News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Shuda was the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2022-23 school year and the 2021-22 school year and an Assistant News Editor during the 2020-21 school year. They can be reached at asumishuda@dailynexus.com or news@dailynexus.com.
Sindhu Ananthavel
Sindhu Ananthavel (she/they) is the Lead News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Ananthavel was the Deputy News Editor for the 2022-23 school year, the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2021-22 school year and an assistant news editor for the 2021-22 school year. She can be reached at news@dailynexus.com.