Photograph by Nada Akhras

Marchers walked through downtown Bloomington on Oct. 27 to raise awareness about Palestinian suffering. The walk ended at the Sample Gates on the IU campus.

More than two dozen citizens gathered in front of the IU Auditorium on Oct. 27 to "Walk to Support Palestine." The walk was organized by the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights Foundation.

After mingling and discussing the events that led them to participate, citizens walked behind a banner that read "Freedom and Equality for Palestine" through campus to the Sample Gates and down Kirkwood to the Square. There was no shouting, no slogans.

Marcher Kadhim Shaaban said it is a moral imperative for every citizen to support civil rights for everyone, especially for the sufferings of the Palestinians. "It is also essential for the United States interests in the Middle East and Islamic World that we work hard to aid the Palestinians who are suffering and give them an independent state," he added. "This is an issue that has both moral and strategic importance."

Marian Shaaban concurred with her husband. "Certainly we must have peace for Palestine and Israel," she said. "It has been 60 years, it's time. We should recognize the Goldstone Report and let international law be applied."

Dennis O'Brien said he was participating because he supports equal rights for all humans. "Once I became aware of the fact that the Palestinians don't have equal rights today, and have not had them for many years, I felt I should act and be supportive," he said. "I think it is a good idea to link this with the civil rights movement of the U.S. That's what the Web site Americans for Palestine suggested, and I hope to make this movement grow."

David Bolter suggested that many Americans simply are not aware of what is going on in Palestine. "It's a situation, which, in the U.S., is not represented enough," he said. "There needs to be more awareness. The corporate media has a biased perspective, and people need to be more open-minded about what is going on. Certainly, it does not take long to find out that there are injustices against the Palestinian population in regards to travel and human rights. Once you are aware of this, you have to make the individual decision as to whether you are going to pretend this is not happening or get involved."


Photograph by Nada Akhras

Some of those who marched cited human rights and international law as reasons for their participation.

Caleb Kurowski noted that Palestinians are unfairly suppressed by the Israeli government. "Any sort of peace negotiations have been consistently shut down by the United States and Israel," he said. "Consistently, through the decades of this conflict, the U.S. and Israel have not wanted a just peace in accordance with international law."

When he learned a rider to a military appropriations bill was recently passed that makes it a "Hate Crime" to criticize Israel, Adam Bobek was outraged. "Israel is essentially a stunning mixture of a fascist state and a corporate nation in the Middle East," he said. "And it directly oppressed the Palestinian people, beginning by taking their land in 1948, and especially so in 1967 and beyond. Israel has destroyed their freedoms, destroyed their homes, and homeland. I don't think these actions are representative of the Israeli people. I am here to walk to show my support for the Palestinian people, doing this is necessarily a criticism of Israel, which has acted outside the rule of international law for far too many years."

"I think it is a good idea to link this with the civil rights movement of the U.S."- Dennis O'Brien, marcher

International law is important for Nada Akhras. "I want to work for justice for Palestinians, not only because I am Palestinian but because I am against injustice and for adherence to international law throughout the world. I want people to be able to live normal lives."

Tim Moore agreed, saying, "I believe Palestinians need and deserve their own state and justice in accordance with international law."

Michael Grady said Israelis' human rights should not come at the expense of the Palestinians.

Noura Al-Fayoumi said she marched to support Palestinian Rights. "I feel a sense of hopelessness and feel I must do something about it," she said. "All people of the Middle East feel a sense of powerlessness and frustration about not being able to help the Palestinians. But I can show my support today by participating, and that's why I am here."

Dena El-Saffar said that Palestinians' suffering has been an issue for her entire lifetime. "It is very frustrating that things seem to be getting worse, not better," she said.

Alicia Nieves pointed out that her education at IU helps her to understand what is happening in Palestine and Israel.

"I am here because I am taking a course as an IU Freshman on the Palestinian/Israeli situation," she said. "As I learned about the human impact I feel I must take a stand. I feel very strongly that all people should have basic human rights."

David Stewart can be reached at daestewa@indiana.edu.