The cold wind bit at them as the night raged on. Still, a handful of Muslim students and community leaders remained in their blue tents overnight in an effort to promote awareness about actual Palestinian refugee camps.
The reproduction of the Palestinian refugee camps at Ingalls Mall yesterday and Tuesday was spearheaded by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality.
“I stayed overnight. I felt I was greatly affected by the experience,” said University of Michigan at Dearborn freshman Mohammed Tayssir Safi. “I kinda knew what the people went through with no food or access to cars if it got cold.”
Safi said the people who walked by and wanted to be educated about what was happening also inspired him.
Many people who stopped by had not realized the types of atrocities committed in incidents in 1948, where 440 villages were destroyed, Safi said.
This refugee camp enactment is part of a series of events that make up the Palestinian Day of Remembrance, a nationwide college event to commemorate and educate the student body and the community about Palestinian support of the divestment campaign, Safi said.
“This is calling for the University to stop the funding of Israel until it stops occupation of Palestinian territories, and to end Apartheid in Israel,” Safi said.
International Solidarity Movement founder and clergyman Rev. Thom Saffold also participated in the refugee camp.
“I was part of the anti-Apartheid movement in the mid-80s in South Africa. The reenactment of shantytowns and multinight experiences … put attention to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa,” Saffold said.
Saffold said he thought that last night could be the beginning of doing the same thing with this issue.
“… The Israeli treatment of Palestine is very apartheid-like.”
LSA sophomore Ali Husain said he thought the enactment was a good idea to raise awareness for the Palestinian situation.
“I feel the issue is important because there are human rights of people being taken away. Just because they’re so far away their lives aren’t any less valuable,” Husain said.
However, some students did not look favorably upon the reenactment event.
“I think the enactment was a non-intellectual, non-educational way of presenting what’s going on in the Middle East,” said senior LSA Co-Chair for American Movement of Israel Yulia Dernovsky. “I feel as if it almost was a mockery of what was going on in the Middle East. I don’t feel it was an effective way to promote dialogue and peace.”
LSA junior Susanna Shamban she said she is doubtful about the objectiveness in which the enactments were carried out. She said the enactments did not have suicide bombers blowing themselves up, therefore were one-sided.
However, there was a damper on the whole experience, Safi said. Around 9:30 a.m. yesterday Safi said a kid on a bicycle stole three signs with facts about Palestine. Safi said they tried to talk to the Jewish leaders, about the whereabouts of the poster but there was no response.
They reported the incident to DPS. Safi said the same student brought back the signs destroyed. He said the student claimed that he found them in the Hillel House and he had no idea how they got there.
“We have no real reaction. We just hope events like this won’t reoccur,” Safi said.
This action has drawn backlash from the Jewish community as well. Shamban said she would never promote taking posters. She said there are freedoms of speech and press and the stealing of the posters was horrible.