Students carrying four stretchers draped with Palestinian and Israeli flags representing the victims of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank were the focus of a mock Middle East funeral procession that gathered outside the Fleming Administration Building yesterday. Recent events, including what Palestinians call a massacre at the Jenin refugee camp, inspired the event.
Engineering junior Ashraf Zahr said the main purposes of the procession were to heighten awareness about the loss of both Israeli and Palestinian lives, and to show the University administration that they want them to end backing of corporations that support the occupation.
Zahr said students on other college campuses across the country are also trying to get their administrations to divest from Israel.
“A growing number of students have moral concerns with our investments that maintain this occupation,” LSA junior Fadi Kiblawi said.
The protest was held in the wake of Israel’s Independence Day today, which students on campus are commemorating by wearing a royal blue T-shirt that says, “Wherever we stand, we stand with Israel.” The procession began at Fleming and made its way to the Diag. In addition to the stretchers, supporters carried Palestinian flags, signs and two large banners saying “Stop the Killing: End the Occupation” and “U of M: Divest from Israeli Occupation.”
Kiblawi, one of the event organizers, said the University invests in many corporations situated in the occupied territories – some of which supply military weapons to Israel. He said the University Board of Regents should conduct research on their investments so they don’t spend tuition money on issues some students don’t support.
“It’s not that we’re trying to get the University to divest from Israel per se, just the companies in the occupied territories,” Public Health student Sara Alrawi said.
Many involved were members of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality.
“SAFE is an organization that is here to fight for human rights, international law, and freedom for oppressed people,” Zahr said.
LSA junior Samantha Rollinger said the American Movement for Israel is sponsoring a bucket drive to raise money for the Red Cross to distribute to Israeli victims of suicide bombings.