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Students Continue to Ban Together With Hopes of Seeing an End to the Palestine-Israel Conflict

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Tim Belizaire

FGCU students have been holding weekly vigils since October 2023 to remember the Palestinian lives lost during the conflict in Gaza. The vigils are held every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Library Lawn. Participating students hope to see the liberation of Palestine. 

Feb. 23 marked 13 weeks since the vigils began. The vigils began with one demonstrator reading the names of the Palestinians who have lost their lives since the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7. 

Some of the demonstrators were not comfortable being identified by the media. The demonstrators were only comfortable speaking under the cover of anonymity. Despite not wanting to be identified, the coalition of students is growing.

“We broaden our horizons by connecting with other student organizations that are standing with the Palestinian people and want to show their support every Friday,” an anonymous demonstrator said. 

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One of the signs displayed the words “South Africa is showing the world what ‘Never Again’ truly means.” This was a reference to South Africa telling the International Court of Justice that Israel is committing apartheid against Palestine. South Africa, which was an apartheid state from 1948 to 1992, called the Israeli occupation “inherently and fundamentally illegal.” 

The anonymous protester is heartened by the support from the students at FGCU for the demonstration. 

“You would be surprised by how many everyday students are supporters. You’d be surprised by how many people who’ve never heard of Palestine in the past are one of the most avid supporters online,” the anonymous protester said. 

This falls in line with the trend of younger Americans supporting Palestine in the conflict. Despite the rise in public support for Palestinians, those on the Palestinian side still see a stigma attached to their support.  

“We get so many supporters who are passing by asking how they can help or donate. But overall, there’s a taboo on speaking about it out loud – they’re afraid of something happening to their futures and the fact that they must be afraid is a problem within itself,” the anonymous protester said. 

The protesters wish that the faculty were more supportive of the effort. 

“I would say the general public stands with Palestine but the FGCU staff and faculty could show that this campus is a safe place for everyone to show their beliefs. We’re not an official student organization, we’re not allowed on the grass. There are strict limitations to how we can demonstrate and how we can show our support,” the anonymous protester said. 

Universities around the country have cracked down on pro-Palestinian protests to combat claims of antisemitism. 

The University of Pennsylvania denied the approval of a documentary critical of Israel. Brandeis University in Massachusetts banned a pro-Palestinian student group from their campus. 

The demonstrations are occurring around the country and Jewish students are witnessing them. One of the Jewish students who has seen the protest is FGCU sophomore, Jake Malin. 

“I think they are within their right to demonstrate the First Amendment, however, I am conflicted with some of their messages,” Malin said. 

Even though Malin supports the student’s right to protest, he is uncomfortable with some of the rhetoric. 

“When speaking to one of my friends who is from Israel, there was heated rhetoric supporting people that kill babies and saying that there was very little separation between Jewish people and the state of Israel,” Malin said. 

Despite hearing heated rhetoric, Malin still feels safe on campus. 

“I thankfully don’t foresee any violence, whether verbal or physical happening on campus and I’ve felt safe. I know other campuses haven’t been as fortunate, but I would say at FGCU, with the culture we have and the point we’re at, I don’t foresee any violence on campus,” Malin said. 

The pro-Palestinian protesters are proponents of a ceasefire, but Malin has mixed feelings about it.

“I think that calling for an end to the violence is not a bad thing, but when a ceasefire does begin, that gives both groups time to rearm and replan, especially in Hamas’ case. When there is a short intermission in the fighting it leads to moving troops closer for another engagement,” Malin said. 

The pro-Palestinian protesters are motivated to continue to demonstrate for as long as they need until their goal is reached.

“The end goal for this entire thing is the liberation of Palestine and whether or not there are weekly vigils on Fridays in the future will all be dependent on how our nation comes together and decides to put an end to this genocide,” the anonymous protester said. 

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About the Contributor
Tim Belizaire, Eagle News Assistant Photo Editor
Tim Belizaire is a junior majoring in journalism. He was born in Brooklyn, NY, and moved to Cape Coral when he was 12. His goal is to either venture into photojournalism or investigative journalism. Tim spends his free time taking pictures or listening to Lana Del Rey for hours.

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