by Christina Polston.
The first thing that may come to your mind when someone mentions the city of Palestine is..where exactly is Palestine? This place we think of as Palestine is actually now “The State of Palestine” consisting of two separate areas surrounded by Israel called ‘Gaza’ and ‘The West Bank.’ Both areas are considered to be occupied by Israel, though Israel stopped physically occupying Gaza in 2005 when an organization referred to as ‘Hamas’ gained control of the area.
In summer of 2014 The Gaza Strip and the State of Palestine were featured heavily in the news as Israel launched a series of attacks on Gaza that lasted for nearly two months. If you have any information about Palestine, there is a good chance that it is because of this recent conflict. For some of our fellow Chaffey students, this is just another event in a series of events that has disrupted their homeland for years.
It is for this reason that Reem Ramadan, a student at Chaffey with Palestinian roots wanted to form the club Students for Justice in Palestine, (or as they often refer to it, simply SJP). Reem has been an activist, speaking on behalf of Palestinians and bringing awareness to the suffering that goes on there for a long time. “No one should be born in occupation or live through constant wars. We have to work together as true human beings to stop this insanity. I want to leave behind a club that will cherish this goal and will work on it for the sake of humanity,” she explains.
For the rest of the students in SJP, it seems that they desperately want to bring the information of what life is like in Palestine, and what the people who live there are going through. “We need to put Palestine back on the map.” This statement was spoken passionately, though matter of factly by Mohamed Skaik, a member of the club that was born in Palestine’s Gaza. As he pointed out, Gaza has been through three wars in six years. During these years Gazans have lost more than six thousand people, 18 thousand have been wounded- some disfigured permanently- and at present time over 50,000 Gazans are homeless due to the destruction of their homes and shelters. Don’t mistake his passion for advocating for the Gazan people for a desire to evoke pity on them. “…it made them fearless,” he says. Also adding “Gaza has a population of two million citizens…they are all superheroes…they were able to move on with their lives…even after three wars.”
Not all club members are Palestinian, in fact the vice president of the club is not Palestinian. Kendra Briana Isabele first heard of Palestine from her best friend, the president of the Club. When Reem described the Israeli occupation in Palestine and what life is like for the Palestinian people to Kendra she was very surprised to hear about the events occurring there. “I wondered what I could do to help…I found out that that spreading the word and bringing awareness to this issue was the starting point.” Kendra describes herself as “Pro-Palestine, Pro-Justice and Pro-Freedom.”
There are many people who hold different opinions about the battles between Israel and Palestine. Many believe that Israel is just in their actions and that they are right to protect themselves. It is important that the students of Chaffey college inform themselves of these events so that, even if their opinions differ from those of the Students for Justice in Palestine, their opinions are educated ones. The members of the SJP speak so passionately about the affect these wars have had on the citizens of Palestine. If nothing else, Chaffey college students, and American citizens everywhere, should remember that this is happening to people just like you and me and they deserve to have voices outside of Palestine reminding everyone that they deserve compassion, empathy and, most of all, life without fear of bombs destroying their homes and killing their citizens.