The tension in the Gaza strip was recreated on campus yesterday, as members from the UC Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine set up a mock “apartheid wall” on the Quad.
The purpose of the demonstration was to raise awareness about the impact of a separation wall in Palestine. The event was part of SJP’s Palestine Awareness Week.
The wall consisted of three signs displaying information about the West Bank and Gaza Strip and was set up at the edge of the grass. Members of SJP handed out fliers and spoke to those curious about or opposed to the exhibit.
Dina Wahbe, secretary of SJP, said the exhibit represented the 400-mile wall that was built in 2007 to separate Israel and Palestine.
“The wall separates villages from villages, families from families, and farmers from their olive tree homelands,” said Wahbe, a sophomore nutritional biochemistry major. “We’re comparing it to South Africa creating ghettos. This is a Palestinian barricade.”
The signs were labeled “Apartheid: The Facts,” “Justice for Palestine,” and “Gaza Deaths.” Facts and figures, such as the history of the wall and number of Israeli and Palestinian deaths, were painted with red, green, and black paint.
Students from Hillel, the Jewish campus organization, staged a counter demonstration to represent an alternative view of the Palestine/Israel conflict. Several wore Israeli flags around their shoulders and passed out their own fliers.
“They’re arguing that the wall is a symbol of racism and apartheid,” said Morgan Anderson, a sophomore anthropology major. “But it is a security measure. Since it has been built there have been no terrorist attacks, no gunmen and no violence; it is there for peace.”
Matan Shelomi, a first-year graduate student in entomology, said that comparing the Palestinian wall to apartheid was an insult to South Africa.
“A lot of South Africans are pissed off right now, because what they went through was so much worse,” Shelomi said.
Palestine Awareness Week will culminate this Thursday with a Cultural Banquet in the ARC Ballroom at 7:30 p.m.
ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.