Students fake death in Palestine support rally

A University student group responded to recent Palestinian conflict.

Students gather between Smith and Vincent halls during Wednesday's Students for Justice in Palestine

Travis Norenberg

Students gather between Smith and Vincent halls during Wednesday’s Students for Justice in Palestine “die in.”

Cody Nelson

At the sound of a horn, protesters dropped to the ground, covering the south end of Northrop Mall on Wednesday afternoon.

About 30 students wore the names of people who have died during the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, lying in the freezing temperatures for about a half hour.

The rally was a “die-in” organized by University of Minnesota group Students for Justice in Palestine in response to latest developments in the Middle East conflict.

It’s the latest in a series of on-campus student acts supporting either side of the conflict. On Tuesday, a pro-Israel student group rallied on Northrop Mall.

Although there was a cease-fire last week, the group decided to continue with the die-in because of ongoing violence in Gaza, said SJP events coordinator Mariam El-Khatib .

She said that although many people see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza as a political issue, SJP views it as a humanitarian issue.

“The point of SJP is to raise awareness and to tell the Palestinian narrative,” she said, adding that the die-in was a peaceful act to raise awareness on campus for Palestine.

Qudsia Anjum, a PSEO student at Normandale Community College, was one of the protesters.

“Even though I myself am not Palestinian … I still support these people because it is not a [religious] issue, it’s a human issue,” she said.

The group also protested the U.S. government’s pro-Israel stance.

“[U.S. financial support of Israel] is our burden. …

We are going to have to start paying off those debts,” biochemistry freshman Adnan Khan said.

The U.S. provides more than $3 billion annually to Israel for security assistance, according to the U.S. Department of State.

“I think America deserves the money more,” El-Khatib said. “We shouldn’t be sending over that money to kill children.”

Some pro-Palestine students said media coverage of the conflict in past weeks has been misleading.

“We want to get people thinking for themselves,” Khan said. “[We] want to get them doing their own research.”

Anjum said a “lack of knowledge” about the conflict and one-sided media coverage are responsible for pro-Israel support in the U.S.

Members of the University group Students Supporting Israel  attended Wednesday’s event.

SSI officer and political science senior David Axelrod  called the event “emotionally manipulative” and said it was “using death in a really disgusting way.”