Hundreds of UC Berkeley students hold walkout, calling for cease-fire in Gaza

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Thursday, October 26, 2023
UC Berkeley Palestinian students hold walkout for cease-fire in Gaza
Students at UC Berkeley joined a national movement taking place at colleges around the nation, calling for a cease-fire and humanitarian aid to Gaza.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Across the U.S., students staged walkouts at college campuses with a list of demands, including calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

Hundreds of people of diverse backgrounds marched and rallied at UC Berkeley's Sproul Hall with a simple message.

"The message is cease-fire. Now. Immediately. And to allow humanitarian aid to enter into Gaza," said Haleema Bharoocha, a graduate student studying public policy.

Bharoocha is one of the student organizers of the rally and a teach-in focused on the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza.

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"Churches being bombed. Mosques being bombed. This felt like a call that I had to respond to," Bharoocha said.

The event at UC Berkeley was organized by several Palestinian campus organizations. Many were wearing masks, fearful of being identified as the political climate heats up on college campuses across the U.S.

"I feel like as a member of an oppressed minority, I understand the plight of the Palestinian people," said one of the Black students in attendance, who was wearing a mask and didn't want to give her name.

One of the speakers was Professor Ussama Makdisi, who teaches history.

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"It really is the most basic message of the universe. Palestinians are humans. They deserve freedom. They deserve equality like everybody else. It is as simple as that," Makdisi said.

A small group of Jewish group students were on hand as well. Vida Kayvarnfar, who is organizing a Friday rally involving Jewish students, says some the chants make her feel unsafe on campus.

"The chants, 'From the river to the sea.' For the Jewish people who live there, 'river to the sea' means annihilation of all of them. That means executing every single Jewish person," Kayvarnfar said.

Many Palestinian students say they dispute that argument.

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"We dispute this claim because 'From the river to the sea' is that Palestinians have a right to return to their homes. This right is enshrined in international law, in the Geneva Convention," said Rami Abdelkarim, who is with the group Palestinian Youth Movement.

Many students who attended say it is important for students to get involved.

"It is really important that we make our voices heard, as the people of the U.S., because that is the only way any of this is going to change," said Iris Rosenblum-Seller, a Jewish student with the group Graduate Students for Justice in Palestine.

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