Student group’s wall denounces Israeli actions

A group of students in University Not In Our Name has found a unique way to create dialogue on campus regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

UNION, in collaboration with the Muslim Student Association, the Student Labor Action Project and the Campus Committee for Peace and Justice, has erected a “mock Palestinian apartheid wall” on the Union’s west lawn.

Clinton Watson, a UNION organizer, and Alex Musto spent a week of their time and $375, provided by the Not In Our Name organization, building the 10-feet-tall, 20-feet-deep structure.

The wall is intended to increase understanding and dialogue regarding issues in the Middle East while standing as a symbol for getting the Israeli military out of the everyday lives of Palestinians, according to organizers.

“Very few Americans actually know about the wall that Israel has put up, so we’re just trying to raise awareness, at least on campus,” Watson said.

Nikki Christensen, who is also an organizer with UNION, added, “Americans that do know about [the wall] usually have one-sided conceptions about it because the American media doesn’t really cover both sides of the issue. We’re trying to change attitudes about it and make Palestinians more real.”

The inner walls are covered with an array of posters that promote the Palestinian cause and shed light on many actions of the Israeli military through various statistics.

“We try to inform Americans of things that are being done in our name…Basically 100 percent of this wall is being paid with U.S. tax money, and we fund $15 million a day supporting Israel’s military objectives,” said Christensen.

“Since the Six Day War [in 1967], the funding has totaled about $1.6 trillion. Last I heard, the ratio of deaths was two Israelis for every seven Palestinians,” said Watson.

Organizer Cory Bushman added some common quarrels with the status of the wall, including the failure of Israel to build on the green line and the increase in suicide bombings since the wall was constructed.

Bushman said, “I think it is already a complete, outright civil war. Fourteen thousand Palestinian homes have been demolished and one Israeli home, but I think [the wall] is heating things up. I don’t see the wall as a solution in any form.”

Christensen stressed that Palestinians are too often clumped into a single group and are associated with the titles of “terrorist” or “suicide bomber.”

“The suicide bombers are such a small fraction of the actual Palestinian population. A lot of people who aren’t related to suicide bombings…are terrorized by the Israeli military through curfews which can last for weeks at a time, movement restrictions and random searches and checks,” Christensen said.

Watson said, “The vast majority of people are just people living and trying to get by.”

Watson, Christensen and Bushman have been running a table outside the Union adjacent to their structure to answer any questions that may arise and to engage in dialogue with those who are interested.

The responses that the wall has triggered have not all been the peaceful and positive dialogue-builders that organizers had hoped for.

“Some people have spit on the posters and ripped them down, and there has just been some ignorance that’s perpetuated over time,” Christensen said. “That’s what we’re trying to stop, we’re trying to engage in discussion and have a dialogue with students even if they don’t agree with us.”

The group will be tabling throughout the week and will culminate the event with a rally including speakers and musicians on March 30 on the west side of the Union from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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