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‘No business as usual at UA’: Students, community walk out for Palestine on campus

Protesters+march+holding+signs+for+Palestine+on+the+UA+Mall+on+Nov.+9.+Many+protesters+made+their+own+signs+and+others+were+provided+by+organizers.%0A
Jay Corella
Protesters march holding signs for Palestine on the UA Mall on Nov. 9. Many protesters made their own signs and others were provided by organizers.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

“Resistance is justified when people are occupied!”

These were some of the chants repeated by hundreds of University of Arizona students and community members at a demonstration held in support of Palestine and the Palestinian people on Thursday, Nov. 9, in front of Old Main on campus.

Various student and community groups, including the Tucson branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, were involved in the planning of the walkout that began at 2:30pm, where students were instructed to walk out of their classes to demand “an end to the University of Arizona’s complicity in the occupation and genocide in Palestine,” according to the walkout flyer

Before the demonstration and march fully began, there was a heightened police presence around Old Main.

Palestinian flags could be seen throughout the crowd along with various signs signifying support for Palestine and a ceasefire in the Middle East. In the crowd of people, everyone had different reasons for coming out to support, each one personal to them in their own way.

“I’m a nurse and I came out today in support of a ceasefire,” Ashley Edgette said. “This is a humanitarian crisis. Just looking at it from a healthcare angle, there’s people doing surgeries with no anesthesia and using only the light from their cell phones. I’m supporting the healthcare workers in Palestine doing what they can.”

Protesters gather by Old Main on Nov. 9. The protest began around 2:30 p.m. and first began with speeches from the organizers. (Jay Corella)

Some demonstrators shared that it was through social media that they were able to learn more about the conflict and how they could help.

“I wasn’t very informed, but social media really helped bring me up to date on everything that has been happening in the region for the last 75 years,” Angelina Valenzuela, a university employee, said. “To be involved in something like this pushes me to continue to be more involved and educated so I can help others understand what is happening there.”

For some people on both sides of the protest, their involvement in the demonstration was a lot more personal.

“Me and my family are Palestinian and we’re here to be in community and solidarity for all those who have been murdered. We want liberation for all of us,” said one demonstrator who requested to be quoted anonymously for personal safety.

Additionally, unbeknownst to many of the campus demonstrators, Nov. 9 marked the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, otherwise known as “The Night of Broken Glass,” where the Nazi regime of Germany planned a coordinated wave of violence against Jewish communities in 1938, according to the Holocaust Encyclopedia.

“It feels intentional that this demonstration was chosen to be [on the anniversary],” said one Jewish UA student, who requested anonymity. “It’s horrifying to us.”

Among the campus demonstrators was a small group of Jewish students from various organizations including Hillel and Olami. Some of the students were taking part in a ritual of wrapping tefillin. The ritual is called the “ultimate mitzvah,” according to chabad.org.

Signs are held along the fountain at Old Main after the water was dyed red at the Walkout for Palestine on Nov. 9. The event was put on by the Arizona Palestine Solidarity Alliance, the Tucson Peace Center, The Party for Socialism & Liberation and more.
(Ben Tisdale)

“We’re here in the face of people who are defending those who attacked our friends and families,” said another Jewish UA student, who also requested anonymity. “This is not a fight against Palestinians, this is a fight against Hamas, to condemn them for what they’ve done.”

During the demonstrations, there was a counter-protester wearing a pro-Israel shirt who was blocked from rushing the stage multiple times by members of Tucson PSL, the Dean of Students Office and university police. 

Shortly after the tense moment, the march portion of the demonstration began. Protestors traveled around the UA Mall twice before once more gathering around the fountain at Old Main.

Demonstrators on both sides were able to show up and have their voices heard about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. This conflict has drawn the attention of various cultural student groups across campus. There have been multiple demonstrations and vigils for the emotions felt and the lives lost during this conflict.


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