On Sept. 14, two Pro-Israel student groups put on an event to promote peace in Israel, and the next day a Palestinian student group held a rally to bring awareness to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The events, put on at the free speech lawn, showed two different sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict, bringing concerns to how the Gaza Strip and the West Bank should be occupied.
“We brought it to FAU to show we’re pro-peace, pro-Israel and we want students to be involved in the peace process,” said Brooke Weinbaum, president of Owls for Israel (OFI).
Noor Fawzy, president of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), has a different view. “When it comes to the occupation, they don’t have a case. You can tell that by reading their info resources. It’s about making Israel look good.”
SJP planned the rally two months in advance and had a table set up for information purposes. “This is not the only rally taking place, this is a date for nationwide rallies,” Fawzy said.
Two graffiti artists, who painted bomb shelters and schools in Israel, made graffiti art on wood with sayings like “Shalom” and “Make love not war.”
“We are trying to show through art, that even if you’re not Jewish, you can relate to Israel,” said Hadar Raveh, director of Israeli programs at FAU’s Hillel Center.
David Trubnikov, VP of OFI said, “It is the perfect opportunity for students to ask questions. People need to get facts straight to understand. We give facts that everyone can agree on.”
Marc Silverstein, a Jewish member of SJP, thought otherwise. “I haven’t seen what facts. It seems like they support the occupation. It seems strange that they’re ignoring important issues.”
OFI put on a jam session at the same time SJP had their rally. “They’re trying to find a way to respond and this is actually a victory for us. It shows they’re intimidated by us,” said Fawzy.
Fawzy alleged that there was a Facebook event asking people to wear their Israeli T-shirt the same day as the OFI jam session and the SJP rally.
A group of police officers were at the rally. The officers were not present the day before for the graffiti event.
Trubnikov commented on the SJP rally the day before it happened. “I wouldn’t mind going. I want to see what they’re about, what their ideas are.”
In response to this, Fawzy said, “It’s very unlikely that the conversation would end peacefully. During the rally, we don’t want any kind of distraction.”
Weinbaum commented on the issue in the Middle East. “They don’t want to make peace, so you need a responsible government that does want to make peace. Israel wants to make peace. We need the other side.”
Raveh said, “As students we’re not policy makers. Through dialogue and negotiations you can have peace.”
Fawzy responded, “We favor peace as well, but we’re not stupid. We know you cannot have peace if there’s no justice. Peace processes haven’t brought lasting peace, lasting security, or justice to the Palestinian people.”
In reference to SJP’s rally, graffiti artist Fernando Romero said, “It has to be talked about too. It can’t be a one side thing. I don’t stand on one side or the other. I just paint for peace. That’s why I’m here. Why fight over silliness?”
Fawzy’s view was different. “This issue is the cancer at the heart of the Middle East.”