Students Protest for Palestine

Students Protest for Palestine


A group of pro-Palestinian students have been performing protests multiple times a week at the Hindsman Bell Tower as Israel continues its nearly five-month-long string of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. 

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed the country is defending itself after an attack from Hamas, a militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, but the Israeli government has faced criticism for attacking civilians and blocking aid efforts. 

The aforementioned group of ATU students say they hope to spread awareness of violent acts committed by the Israeli government, by handing out flyers citing the death count of civilians for both sides and more information they believe the media is not fairly covering. 

“We must continually remind the public of the atrocities committed every day. Countless videos provide evidence of the violence that the Israeli government is committing,” said Mya Galvan, a junior music and diversity studies major from Green Forest, Arkansas. Galvan organized the group’s first protest on Feb. 16 after getting “really angry one day.” Because of the turnout, the protests continued. 

“It is easier to hide a genocide when the majority of people don’t see the violence. We as people must be loud and amplify Palestinian voices and stories. They are screaming for us to help them,” said Galvan. 

The group believes Western bias in favor of Israel has led to the dehumanization of the people of Palestine. Israel’s religious ties make supporting Israel seem like the only option, but these students hope to change that narrative. 

“People need to know the truth. People need to know about the hospitals that Israel bombed. About the babies left to rot, the mass graves, the people dying of starvation, the people that just wanted to get food for their families and were shot,” said Eli O’Connell, a junior rehabilitation science major from Searcy. 

“We need to remember that these are people and not just a growing number. We need to humanize them as much as possible and speak up against dehumanizing, degrading rhetoric,” O’Connell said. 

Because of the ties the situation has with the Jewish religion, many pro-Palestinian protestors have been accused of being antisemitic.

“Being pro-Palestine is being anti-Israeli government. I am pro-Palestinian people, regardless of religion or ethnicity. I am anti-Israeli government, not anti-Jew. Not every Israeli is Jewish, and not every Palestinian is Muslim,” Galvan said, regarding the antisemitism accusation. 

“The Israeli government is weaponizing Israeli Jewish history. They claim that the entire Palestinian population is going to harm them in the same way the Nazis did in the 1940s. They use generational trauma to gain support for their genocidal ideologies,” Galvan said. 

Israel’s ties to the Jewish and Christian religions have had a huge impact on the country’s ability to carry out these attacks without backlash from Western nations.  Simon Clark, a Russellville native and senior music and psychology major, understands the connection the land has to the Jewish religion but does not let it justify genocide from a religious state. 

“I understand the importance to many Jewish people of Israel and the concept of a promised land, or Zion, existing in today’s times as a testament to moving past the horrors and genocide the Jewish people have prevailed through,” Clark said.

“However, what’s happening in Palestine right now is a genocide being led by a religious state. Jewish state or not, Israel is bombing civilian areas and hospitals, refugee camps, targeting journalists, controlling necessary resources, and many more proven war crimes. Perhaps Israel, in its founding, represented hope and a home of safety for Semitism. But Zionism is not Judaism. Israel is not all Jewish people,” Clark stated. 

As for what Americans can do to support Palestinians, Clark offers many opportunities for contribution. 

“You can support the businesses, aid, and reporters currently still in Palestine. Many have taken to purchasing a Palestinian keffiyeh, which is a scarf, to wear and demonstrate support for Palestine. There are also more direct ways of aid, such as the Olive Branch project, protesting, and writing to your representatives.”

The group plans to continue protesting and posting information on their Instagram page, @liberationforall_LFA.