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Israel’s 70th Birthday Celebration Draws Protest

Jacob Kaufhold ’21, Staff Writer

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A party for Israel’s 70th birthday drew written and in-person protests last week.

Two students protested outside the event, holding a sign featuring names of Palestinians killed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in 2017. “It was hard to see posters for this celebration literally the week after nine people were murdered by IDF soldiers,” said Sydney Collins ’18. “I don’t have a problem with the establishment of a Jewish state… but I do think that there shouldn’t be any sort of murdering, or any sort of bloodshed, for the establishment of a state.”

“I do not like the fact that they are creating settlements in what is considered to be Palestine territory, and the treatment of Palestinians within these settlements in their own country are terrible,” Maggie Murdoch’18 said. “It’s a humanitarian crisis that needs to be dealt with, in my opinion, and that is the reason I’m here.” Both students said that they have protested at other events on this issue before.

The posters advertising the event had sticky notes stuck to them also highlighting Palestinians killed by IDF. Two notes where used to mention Yasser Murtaja, an “unarmed journalist murdered by IDF while in his press jacket,” according to the notes.

The KOVE in the dining hall was also decorated to celebrate the holiday with several Israeli flags. This drew complaints written on napkins posted on the corkboard in the cafeteria, where one student requested “[p]lease don’t politicize the KOVE,” and another read “I’d like my KOVE food without a side of Israeli propaganda, please.” Director of Dining Services Errol Huffman could not be reached for a comment by print time on Wednesday, April 25, at 1:26 a.m.

The protests did not stop students from gathering on Thursday, April 19 in the social hall of the Holland Union Building to commemorate the country’s birthday. The event was attended by over 75 people and included both a variety of activities and a selection of Middle Eastern food, including pita, hummus, tabbouleh and falafel. One booth provided henna tattoos, while another allowed students to braid their own challah bread and the Dickinson College Farm had a stand selling yarn, soap and pickled vegetables, among other products. Students were dancing and listening to music, as well as waving Israeli flags, which some students wrapped themselves in.

“[A]n aspect I enjoyed thoroughly was the honest education people offered for what was happening, what the event was for and a brief history,” said Em Wolf ’21, who attended the event because of the interest of a friend, adding that “[t]he people attending were friendly.”

Noah Frank ’20 agreed with Wolf saying, “I thought it went very well, I enjoyed the chance to get free Mediterranean food and talk with people,” he went on to say, “in terms of the event, I think there are many problems in contemporary Israel- but this does not negate the country’s right to exist, which deserves to be celebrated.”

Solomon Zisser ’20 was in agreement with this as well, saying “I think Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is an issue we need to discuss, but we don’t have to include the argument of whether or not Israel should exist into that discussion.” Zisser also added that this event “was designed to celebrate Israel’s existence and the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland. It wasn’t designed to be political.”

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Israel’s 70th Birthday Celebration Draws Protest