Palestine social justice banner taken down

Alice Yin, Assistant Campus Editor

Associated Student Government on Wednesday passed a resolution condemning the theft of a banner printed with a statistic about Palestinian displacement in Israel.

The banner, hung by Students for Justice in Palestine, disappeared sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

The theft occurred after SJP hung the banner by The Arch on Tuesday evening, members of the student group said.

The group hung the banner by The Arch on Tuesday night and found it missing at about 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, SJP co-president Ruba Assaf said. SJP put up the 6-foot banner, which stated “5.3 million Palestinians have been forced out of their homes by the state of Israel since its creation,” as part of a banner campaign.

“It’s scary to say the least because clearly Palestinian student activities are being targeted in this way,” said Assaf, a Weinberg sophomore. “This is an attempt to silence.”

SJP’s senator Moira Geary discussed the incident Wednesday night at Senate. Geary, a Weinberg senior, said the act is “not an anomaly” for the organization, and said SJP materials have been vandalized in the past.

“For the sake of the personal safety of members of the organization and the right for all student groups to voice political opinions without the threat of damage to our property or ourselves … It’s something that needs to be addressed,” Geary said.

SJP posted a picture of the banner on its Facebook page with a condemnation of “this act of unauthorized censorship of free speech.” The group stated on Facebook that this was an intentional act and was one of many acts of vandalism against Palestinian social justice movements.

“It’s escalating,” Assaf said. “This violation of free speech indicates that some students don’t respect views that oppose their own.”

On the Facebook page, SJP mentioned past vandalism including torn-down fliers and defacing SJP’s painting of The Rock.

“I can’t say I was completely surprised that the banner was stolen,” Assaf said. “I was just surprised at how quickly it was done because it was taken down overnight.”

Assaf said she believes the Northwestern student body needs more representation of the Palestinian voice. She said SJP has frequently been misrepresented in publications and is “held to a different standard.”

“Pro-Palestine students don’t feel completely safe or comfortable sharing their views,” Assaf said. “Something is wrong with our campus atmosphere, and we need to talk.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misquoted Assaf. She called the incident “an attempt to silence.” The Daily regrets the error.

Olivia Exstrum contributed reporting.

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