Student groups debate conflict
Two groups of students gathered at the University Center North Patio on Monday to offer different points of view and inform others about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
Students in support of Arab countries such as Palestine, as well as students in support of Israel were both present and debated from different perspectives.
Political science senior Shireen Abughazaleh joined the group in support of the Arab countries under the name Students Against Injustice, which is not a registered student organization.
"We decided to demonstrate because we want justice to condemn the actions of Israel in Gaza," Abughazaleh said. "Israel should stop their war crimes (since) 20,000 Palestinian houses have been destroyed by Israeli forces. In addition, 982 Palestinian children have died since 2000. We are not against Jews or Americans, (but) we are against the Israeli governments’ actions in Palestine."
Abughazaleh said the group aims to stop ethnic cleansing that has been ongoing since 1958. She also said that the recent Palestinian occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005 has resulted in 130 deaths and 300 people injured.
"The unfair expansion of the Israeli/Palestine border by Israeli… has left Palestinians with less land," Abughazaleh said.
Pro-Palestine students said they were trying to promote a message of peace.
"We are demonstrating today because we want peace and justice and also because we want to raise awareness and show that people care about this issue," broadcast journalism sophomore Marwa Abdulrahman said.
Abdulrahman, Abughazaleh and the other students distributed fliers on statistics in the Middle East conflict, displayed a Palestinian flag and offered a petition for students to sign to end the war.
Industrial engineering graduate student Rashad Zein said the pro-Palestine group was emphasizing ending violence in both Israel and Palestine.
"We are against the killings on both sides," Zein said. "We are here to repent the inhumanity in Gaza, and Palestine in general. People to need to go to www.ifamericansknew.org so they can find out more information about this problem."
Pro-Israel students also shared their views on the conflict beside the Palestinian group. Accounting senior Leon Trakhtenberg, who organized the pro-Israeli group, also not a registered student organization, said he wanted to present facts and let people decide what is right and wrong.
"We want to get our message across by putting the facts out, instead of the emotion," Trakhtenberg said.
Biology graduate student Dror Berel, a participant who held an Israeli flag, said people should be educated about the facts behind the conflict.
UH police officers ordered the pro-Israeli group to disperse. According to University free expression policies outlined in the UH Manual of Administrative Policies and Procedures, groups are not allowed to display or distribute signs without permission.
"We are promoting facts, not propaganda," Berel said. "We try to present an objective point of view. We hope everyone at UH is smart enough to realize what is propaganda and what is fact."