Students reenact violence in Israel during demonstration at The Rock


Sophie Mann/Daily Senior Staffer

An NU student lies on the ground near The Rock while dressed as a wounded Palestinian boy. The demonstration was hosted by NU SJP on Wednesday and imitated a viral video of a violent scene in Israel.

Alice Yin, Campus Editor

Sounds of students crying “Die, son of a bitch, die!” filled the plaza by The Rock on Wednesday during a demonstration held in honor of the International Day of Action for Palestine.

Northwestern Students for Justice in Palestine members spent the afternoon reenacting a viral video of a wounded Palestinian teenager lying on the ground amid Israeli bystanders. The demonstration was put on for the International Day of Action, which serves as an annual day of solidarity for Palestinians on college campuses.

I’ve seen firsthand the effects of occupation on my own family members and friends in Palestine,” said Weinberg junior Ruba Assaf, an SJP member. “This event especially is to commemorate lives that have been lost due to occupation and as a result of an oppressive regime.”

There are conflicting reports about events leading up to the video. The viral video reenacted at the event depicts 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra sprawled bent-legged on the pavement of Jerusalem according to The New York Times, NBC News and USA Today. In the video filmed Monday, Israeli police officers circle the boy’s body, occasionally nudging him and shooing away spectators, including at least one who yells for his death, the three news sites reported. Israeli police said the boy had stabbed two Israeli citizens prior to being shot, according to NBC News, which also reported officials have confirmed Manasra is still alive.

At the event, one student dressed in a similar outfit to Manasra’s in the video — black shirt, jeans and red-checkered keffiyeh — lay on the ground near The Rock as SJP members jeered and called for his death. In the background, other members either clad in normal clothes or dressed to represent Israel Defense Forces held signs listing numbers of Palestinian casualties and shouted: “Thirty Palestinians have been killed in the past two weeks!”

Another group of students is hosting a solidarity event Thursday in support of Israel. Weinberg sophomore Inbal Hirschmann and McCormick junior Charles Tokowitz created a Facebook event Wednesday inviting students to wear a blue shirt to the Arch on Thursday to take a group photo with the flag of Israel. The event was created in response to SJP’s demonstration, Hirschmann said, and is meant to pay homage to Israeli families affected by stabbings and other assaults in the past two weeks. The Facebook page lists examples, saying 19 Israelis were attacked.

Hirschmann said she hopes her event will work toward peace and that all students are welcome to come and commemorate innocent civilian lives lost on both sides.

“Northwestern is a campus that is supposed to promote open conversation and open dialogue, and Charlie and I feel this (SJP) event is absolutely not productive,” Hirschmann said. “I know a lot of Israelis and Jews on campus feel so very uncomfortable with this event because they feel personally attacked.”

Both Hirschmann and Assaf said they condemn any civilian death, no matter what side of the conflict. However, Hirschmann said she found SJP’s event did not properly distinguish between innocent civilians and people who were killed for attacking Israelis.

“There have been Palestinian terrorist lives lost as well,” Hirschmann said. “We are by no means ignoring Palestinians lost. We 100 percent sympathize with those who lost families. It’s difficult to distinguish between those people and people who weren’t innocent.”

Weinberg freshman Ennis Hajyousif acted as Manasra for a duration of the event. The SJP member said he played the role of the injured boy to give the Palestinians a voice.

“Not even as a Palestinian but as a Muslim, or as a human, seeing someone suffering like that while people stand there and yell at you, like, ‘Die, son of a bitch, die,’ that’s terrible,” he said.

The demonstration was also meant to reach beyond just the Palestinian community at NU, Assaf said. She said she believes the struggle for liberation is not singular to Palestinians — it affects the rest of the world too.

“It’s different when you’re seeing a peer or a classmate lying in the middle of the square by The Rock, that place you pass by to go to class every day,” Assaf said. “You’re hearing those words out loud, but when you see someone yelling at a dying person, “Die son of a bitch, die,’ you can’t help but feel like it would reach people more.”

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