On Nov. 17 the Palestinian Youth Movement teamed with Students United for Palestinian Equality & Return (SUPER UW), a group based out of the University of Washington, to march through the campus to protest the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Palestine. The rally’s call, “Shut it Down for Palestine,” took place during afternoon classroom hours, and hundreds of UW students left their classrooms to decry what is being contested as genocide of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli Government.
On Oct. 7, Hamas infiltrated the heavily guarded, technologically advanced Israeli border and took over 250 hostages, many of whom were attending the Nova music festival in Kibbutz Re’im. Israeli authorities reported that over a combined 1,300 Israelis were killed in both the festival and surrounding towns. In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) to attack Gaza with the stated intention of rescuing the hostages and eradicating Hamas. Since the initial incursion on Palestine, The New York Times reports that more than 14,000 Palestinians have been killed, 10,000 of which were women and children.
Organization efforts, including those of the Palestinian Youth Movement and SUPER UW, have grown over the last month amid an exponentially rising Palestinian death toll. The Nov. 17 campus rally sought to decry the disproportionate level of violence and raise awareness of the Israeli occupation of Palestine that dates back to 1948. For several decades, the United States government has supported the Israeli government, as well as supplying them with billions of dollars worth of weapons and military technology.
The UW rally placed particular emphasis on marching through the engineering department corridors. While weaving through the hallways, the student protestors criticized the university’s controversial partnership with Boeing, whom they criticized for its production and use of helicopters, missile guidance systems and fighter jets against the Palestinian people.
The march continued through The Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering and the Paul G. Allen Center for Electrical & Computer Engineering, both of which were decried by organizers for their involvement in preparing students for surveillance and policing technology careers, as highlighted in their flier.
A temporary cease-fire has taken place to exchange Palestinian detainees for Israeli hostages. Calls to extend the cease-fire have grown in the wake of the destruction of Gaza and its people; however, the demands for change by humanitarian and Palestinian groups alike go far beyond a temporary armistice.
Via social media, SUPER UW has outlined the following demands in both a broader context and in accordance with their educational institution’s involvement:
- We demand an immediate end to Israel’s siege on Gaza and the U.S. military funding Israel.
- We demand an immediate ceasefire.
- We demand the University of Washington fully divest from weapons corporations that arm Israel’s occupation and genocide in Gaza.
- We demand the University of Washington to end all ties to Israeli institutions that aid the ongoing occupation of Palestine.
Jordan Somers is currently in his second year of Visual Media at Seattle Central College. He specializes in photojournalism and documentary work, with a particular emphasis on social movements happening throughout the city. His 2020 documentary, Hope is Not Cancelled, was an official selection at the Local Sightings Film Festival, and won an award for best editing at the Oregon Documentary Film Festival. Jordan is an avid traveler when granted the opportunity, and has a keen interest in psychology and existential philosophy.