Day offers Palestinian views

Flyers, posters and a video documentary gave anyone who passed through the second floor of the Alumni Memorial Union Monday a glimpse into the Arab Student Association's day of solidarity with Palestinians.

The ASA hoped to raise awareness about the Israeli occupation of Palestine and oppression of the people Monday, the designated International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The organization's exhibition of posters and flyers is meant to reveal the perspective not usually presented by the Western media.

Since Israel was formed, the Palestinians have been oppressed and stripped of basic human rights, according to Helmy Mostafa, a School of Dentistry graduate student.

The United States is a part of the oppression, he said.

"It's our tax money that's going to Israel," Mostafa said. "And it should stop."

Mostafa said he believes the United States' war in Iraq is connected with the war between Palestine and Israel.

The Milwaukee-born student said he visited Palestine when he studied in Jordan and witnessed the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians firsthand.

The exhibition of posters and a documentary was primarily Mostafa's idea to spread information to Marquette students, according to Zieneb Hamdan, a College of Health Sciences junior.

"That's just it," Hamdan said. "We're just college students. We question things. When we question what our government is doing, we are aware of the atrocities our government is doing."

Hamdan said she believes most Palestinians consider the conflict a modern war, which started in 1948 when the United Nations allocated a portion of Palestine for the creation of Israel.

The United Nations and United States support the Israeli side of the conflict with several propositions and foreign aid policies, Hamdan said.

The creation of Israel began with the Zionist Movement, according to Mostafa. The movement was a result of centuries of Jewish Diaspora to reestablish their historic homeland, according to Jane Peterson, associate professor of social and cultural sciences.

The posters at Monday's display gave several statistics about the conflict. Over 25 percent of U.S. foreign aid goes to Israel.

American activist Rachel Corrie was run over by a bulldozer when she protested the destruction of Palestinian homes, according to another poster.

"I think from a Western and American perspective, we sometimes look at that part of the world and say there's always been violence there," Peterson said. "It's a part of the world in which people lived peacefully for tens of thousands of years. I'm hoping we can go back to that."

Hamden said there are groups on both the Israel and Palestinian sides that advocate peace but the resolution lies in understanding both sides of the issue.

She said the ASA would like to work with other organizations, such as the Jewish Student Union, to present a panel or forum on the issue to present each side equally and let observers decide for themselves.

Adam Abelson, JSU president, could not be reached for comment.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Nov. 30, 2004.