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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Student demonstrators rally at Memorial Union to support Palestinians amidst further Israeli advancements

A vigil was also held on Monday to recognize the Palestinian lives lost


By ANTHONY W. ZAMMIKIEL and HANNAH SCHRADER — campus@theaggie.org


Content warning: This article contains discussions of violence. 


On Friday, Oct. 19, in response to Israel’s advancements into the Gaza Strip, students rallied for Palestine at the Memorial Union (MU), with the afternoon demonstration soon spreading throughout the campus. The rally was organized by Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis. Students and supporters arrived at the South Patio with banners and Palestinian flags. 

Students on campus waved banners and signs that read statements such as “Free Palestine, ceasefire now” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” 

Palestinian flags were waved, and demonstrators wore “keffiyehs,” a traditional Palestinian checkered scarf with black-and-white patterns. The “keffiyeh” has become an important symbol of Palestinian resistance

President Biden visited Israel on Oct. 18, reiterating U.S. support for the state of Israel while cautioning the Netanyahu administration from repeating the mistakes that the U.S made throughout the Middle East after Sept. 11. 

The organizing students, who chose to remain anonymous, talked about the Biden administration providing ongoing military and financial assistance to the state of Israel. They stated that they believe the US has been responsible for furthering the Israeli campaign against the Palestinian civilian population.

“There are no ‘both sides’ to a genocide,” an organizer proclaimed over the loudspeaker.   “America is funding a genocide against the Palestinian people. We have to end the siege on Gaza now.” 

These statements were followed by chants proclaiming, “Biden, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.” 

As of Oct. 19, there have been nearly 3,785 Palestinian casualties, and more than 1,300 Israeli casualties. More than 12,000 Palestinians have been injured, and 6,307 Israelis have been injured.

On Monday, Oct. 23, students once again gathered at the MU for a vigil mourning and honoring the Palestinians who have been murdered as a result of violence in the area.

Members of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis opened the vigil by giving speeches. 

“People seem to not use these standards of ‘never again’ when looking at the middle, specifically in Palestine,” a member of SJP said. “We will never normalize the ongoing ethnic cleansing and genocide that has been happening for the past 75 years.”

UC Davis student Umer Ali spoke on what the “Free Palestine” movement means to him.

“[The movement is about being] free from Israeli occupation,” Ali said. “And for me, it means setting up a Palestinian state for the Palestinians, free from any sort of threat of occupation.”

Scott Stuart, an attendee of the vigil, discussed the broader history of the “Free Palestine” movement.

“The ‘Free Palestine’ movement is a legacy of humanity that we have unfortunately ignored in this country for 75 years,” Stuart said. “It means that we have a long road — or hopefully a shorter road — to justice.”

Stuart then made a call to action for people to consider ways to help those struggling in Palestine right now.

“This is a warning to everyone: We have to stop this now,” Stuard said. “It will not get better without unfortunately some of us giving up our privilege.”

The vigil ended with a prayer for those who have died fighting for a Palestinian state to be established, with flowers being placed in a circle around candles that were set out in remembrance.


Written By: Anthony W. Zammikiel and Hannah Schrader campus@theaggie.org