Local students protest Israeli involvement in Palestine

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Three protesters hold up signs and the Palestenian flag.

Alex Coburn

“Gaza, Gaza don’t you cry, Palestine will never die! Gaza, Gaza don’t you cry, Palestine will never die!”

Protesters chanted in front of the Evangel World Prayer Center on Aug. 14 as they campaigned against Sen. Mitch McConnell’s speech to the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) during the “Night to Stand with Israel.”

Louisville Students for Justice in Palestine (LSJP), a University of Louisville-based organization that focuses on “raising awareness about the Palestinian freedom movement,” planned the protest. The demonstrators also included the Jewish Voice for Peace, the Louisville Committee for Peace in the Middle East and the Ramallah Club.

One man drummed to the beat of the chant.
One man drummed to the beat of the chant. Photo by Alex Coburn.

The participating organizations aimed to increase awareness of acts perpetrated against Palestinian civilians and to boycott the United States’ backing of Israel in the ongoing struggle.

Approximately 50 protesters stood on the side of the road from 6:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., holding signs, waving Palestinian flags and chanting as cars honked their horns in encouragement of the non-violent protest.

“We are here tonight to oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and we call for justice and peace for both sides,” protester and University of Louisville professor Ibrahim Imam said. “We are dismayed with the United States’ one-sided foreign policy and protesting the blind eye the United States turns towards the genocide and massacre of Palestinian civilians.”

Ibrahim Imam, a University of Louisville professor, held up a sign that said "Free Palestine" in support of his homeland.
Ibrahim Imam, a University of Louisville professor, held up a sign that said “Free Palestine” in support of his homeland. Photo by Alex Coburn.

“Our purpose is to raise awareness about the Palestinian freedom movement and to encourage a just and peaceful solution to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict,” protest organizer and 2006 Manual alumnus Matt Bewley said. “We are protesting Mitch McConnell and the Christians United for Israel because they unquestioningly support the actions of an Israeli government that has killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians, over 70 percent of whom are civilians according to the United Nations, just in the last five weeks.”

Members of groups like Jewish Voices for Peace and Louisville Students for Justice in Palestine also came out to show their support.
Members of groups like Jewish Voices for Peace and Louisville Students for Justice in Palestine also came out to show their support. Photo by Alex Coburn.

“Virtually the only power that stands with Israel regardless of Israel’s repeated violations of the Geneva Convention is the United States,” Adam Khayat (12, MST) said.

While some protesters remained outside for the duration of the rally, others moved into the prayer center to hear McConnell’s speech to CUFI.

“Every time Israel gets in a negotiation, as you know, what they call upon to do is to give up territory in return for peace,” McConnell said. “To give up something very tangible for something that appears to be quite elusive.”

As McConnell discussed the Russian occupation of Crimea, an LSJP protester shouted, “Israel took Palestine!”  After the disruption of the speech, security asked members of the LSJP to leave the church. In addition, security asked two Manual Redeye student journalists to leave the church. The reporters were unable to conduct any interviews to CUFI members.

Reem Hussein, the founder of LSJP, leads the group in a chant of, “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry! Palestine will never die!”
Reem Hussein, the founder of LSJP, leads the group in a chant of, “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry! Palestine will never die!” Photo by Alex Coburn.