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Student organization holds protest for Palestine

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organized a student walkout at CSUN alongside Filipino rights groups on Thursday, which brought out over a hundred students. The walkout began with a rally of demonstrators by the Matador Statue on Cleary Walk to protest CSUN’s continued stance of neutrality on the Israel-Hamas war. SJP called out the...

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organized a student walkout at CSUN alongside Filipino rights groups on Thursday, which brought out over a hundred students.

The walkout began with a rally of demonstrators by the Matador Statue on Cleary Walk to protest CSUN’s continued stance of neutrality on the Israel-Hamas war.

SJP called out the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which has raised alarm to rising anti-semitism across the country, as “pro-Zionist.” They also rallied with a message to U.S. leadership, calling for an end to the U.S. support to Israel, which has amounted to $130 billion since Israel’s inception in 1948.

After the first round of speakers, the crowd gathered for a march to the steps of the library, chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The phrase, according to Al Jazeera, is a reference to the area between the Mediterranean sea and Jordan river, which Palestinians say was stolen from them by Israel.

“I would say to Erica Beck, our president, that neutral statement that originally came out on Oct. 9, that is harmful to the Palestinian people,” said Robert Avila, an SJP board member and CSUN student. “It pushes the narrative that these guys are just fighting in a vacuum, that these guys are not just fighting against U.S. imperialism.”

SJP enlisted the help of volunteers in high visibility vests to protect security and peace since counter demonstrators were expected.

Towards the end outside the library, an unknown man walked through the crowd hurling expletives at demonstrators and mocking the Palestinian music that they played through a speaker. He yelled “How could you allow this?” at CSUN staff watching the demonstration.

CSUN Vice President William Watkins stood close by throughout the walkout, but declined to comment.

Since the walkout, Israel’s truce with Hamas to exchange hostages and prisoners has ended. Fighting has ramped up again across Gaza.

Gaza’s Health Ministry reported on Sunday that 15,523 Palestinians have died since the war broke out. Meanwhile, Democratic senators are now demanding that Israel reduce civilian casualties in Gaza and support for more aid to Israel is becoming divided in Congress.

“I think the U.S. involvement has shown time and time again that it is just more bombs and more military aid to the state of Israel,” Avila said.

Three Filipino freedom groups, Anakbayan San Fernando Valley, Pilipino Youth Kollective and Puso San Fernando Valley, joined SJP on the bullhorn calling for an end to the civil rights atrocities in the Philippines.

Serena Rossi, a board member of Puso SFV, joined SJP’s rally in solidarity.

“We see how the struggle that we have here in the U.S., that is happening in the Philippines, is intimately linked with Palestine,” Rossi said. “It would be a dishonor if we were not also showing solidarity with our Palestinian siblings and supporting them in their struggle against genocide.”

The Philippines have been afflicted with numerous insurgencies by militants and a violent war on drugs perpetuated by the country’s President Rodrigo Duterte. The country’s government has also taken an aggressive stance towards Communist and “subversive” literature, forcing universities to remove and turn over books relating to the ideology from their libraries.

Jesse Rodgers, a board member of Anakbayan, condemned the U.S. role in the conflicts affecting the Philippines and Palestine.

“The Palestinian and Filipino struggle are intertwined with U.S. Imperialists and monopoly capitalists who funnel billions of the people’s tax dollars into the Zionist war machine,” Rodgers said.

SJP has been criticized for their support of Hamas, which Israel has compared to ISIS. The ADL has called out the student organization as antisemitic, and labeled their statements as dangerous rhetoric.

“It’s not my job to say what Hamas is or what it isn’t. At the end of the day, Israel is committing war crimes all over Palestine,” Avila said. “What matters to us and to SJP is an end to the occupation and an end to colonialism.”