With Israeli tanks lining the Gaza border tensions are running high around the world. A group called Students United for Justice in Palestine rallied in support of the region, in front of FSU’s Integration Statue and called for a deeper look into the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
“Violence coming out of the Gaza Strip is terrorism, and it is against international law by all standards, however it is a result of ongoing occupation and oppression. We have to keep in mind that 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live on a strip of land one fifth the size of Leon County since 1967,” said Gabriel Paez, Director of Students for Justice in Palestine and a senior at FSU.
Paez said considering his group’s stance on the conflict, it hasn’t always been easy to get their voices heard. He said in the past the Florida State Student Government Association has tried to deny them funding and has refused to have their speakers appear on campus. He's said, it's because of the group's pro-Palestine stance.
“They tried painting us as something that we’re not, they try misrepresenting us, and that’s why its important that we have visible and vocal actions like the one we’re having today,” said Paez.
At the rally, roughly 30 students and community members denounced Israeli missile attacks and called for an end to hostilities in what they called a “bloody siege” on the Palestinian people.
There are some groups, however, who question if the protestors adequately represent the voice of the Palestinians.
“People who are involved with Students United for Justice in Palestine come from across the spectrum, as well they should, I just think that sometimes people take up a cause because it’s a cause to be taken up, and I don’t know necessarily that that advances the cause of the people they say they’re out to support," said Melanie Annis, Executive Director of Hillel at Florida State, the foundation for Jewish campus life.
Annis says Hillel’s stance on the conflict is easy to identify.
“Where ever we stand, we stand with Israel. You may be politically left, politically right, you may not really care, but Israel has the right to exist within safe and defined boundaries, and right now those boundaries are being violated.”
Meanwhile, Governor Rick Scott is throwing his weight behind the issue. In a statement Scott says he stands by Israel against what he called “Hamas’ relentless campaign of terror against Israel”. The Governor also says Israel has the inherent right to self defense against terrorists.
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