Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Community protests Israeli occupation in Gaza

About 250 Denver-area residents and University of Denver students and faculty — armed with Palestinian flags and signs — marched across campus Jan. 8 calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

International studies Lecturer Robert Prince called Israel’s militant occupation of the area “inhumane.”

“This is not a war, this is a slaughter,” he told the crowd after it gathered on the Campus Green after the march. The fight is unfair, Prince said, as Israel is armed with one of the strongest international militaries and supported by the U.S., while “the other side is poor and oppressed.”

Prince, who said he has a secular Jewish background, expressed sympathy for all civilians. Marchers stopped at points during the walk while Chase Willet, president of DU’s International Awareness Initiative group — sponsor of the event — announced the number of people killed day by day.

According to Reuters, as of Jan. 8 — which marked day 13 of the conflict in Gaza — 765 Palestinians are estimated to be dead and 3,000 injured. About 10 Israelis have been killed and 65 injured.

Josef Korbel School of International Studies Professor Alan Gilbert compared the fight to the genocide of Jews in Europe during the 1930–40s, calling both situations “a slaughter of innocents.”

He made a plea for recognition of equality: “There is no difference between the people standing here and the people in Gaza,” Gilbert said. “If you think that for a second, you are making a huge mistake.”

Community members cheered, while waving such as “Wrong in Iraq, Wrong in Palestine: End U.S. Support for Israel’s Occupation” and “Justice for Palestinians.”

Several demonstrators spoke of President-elect Barack Obama, saying they expect him to work for peace in the Middle East but expressing little hope that he will be able to make any significant changes in Gaza.

DU PhD candidate Wael Dokham, whose wife and children live in Gaza, told the crowd that the occupation “will not bring peace and security to Israel.” In addition, he claimed U.S. support is hurting Americans’ image.

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