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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Perspective: Now more than ever, speak up for what you believe

I was warned to kiss my career and future goodbye at a pro-Palestinian protest last semester, and I can’t say I was surprised.

Whether at GW or other colleges, students who support Palestinian liberation from Israel are being censored. But I won’t be intimidated into silence — I’m standing up for what I believe.

The protest I attended was organized by the Student Coalition for Palestine, which aimed to support Students for Justice in Palestine at GWU after officials suspended the organization in November. My fellow protesters and I marched through Foggy Bottom. Then, a middle-aged white woman stepped into the street, phone in hand, and started filming us. What struck me was what she shouted while recording: “Say goodbye to your careers! Say goodbye to your future!” Her words rang in my head long after I returned to my dorm.

I’m not the only pro-Palestinian student to be harassed — or worse. Harvard doctoral candidate John J. Abughattas was filmed and confronted by the wife of an economics professor for wearing a keffiyeh, a traditional Arab headdress that has come to symbolize the Palestinian cause. Palestinian students Tahseen Aliahmad, Hisham Awartani and Kinnan Abdalhamid were shot Nov. 25 in Vermont. Aliahmad and Awartani were wearing keffiyehs when the three men were shot.

From cell phone videos to acts of violence, it’s not just individuals who are repressing Palestinians and supporters of Palestine. When public and private universities, including GW, suspend student groups supporting Palestinian liberation and restrict demonstrations, they silence Palestinian, Muslim, Arab and pro-Palestine students.

SJP claims it is facing another round of student conduct hearings for what the University alleges is its involvement in SCP. SCP, which includes Jewish Voice for Peace, Socialist Action Initiative, and Dissenters, is also claiming to face charges of community disturbance, misconduct and noncompliance for their recent protests. SJP and SCP have also previously accused GW of continuing investment in organizations affiliated with Israel that they argue directly aid the genocide in the Gaza Strip.

Beyond what’s happening on GW’s campus, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) has called on the FBI to investigate pro-Palestinian protesters. Supporters of Palestinian liberation have accused social media platforms of censoring pro-Palestinian narratives, and Western media outlets refuse to acknowledge the long history of Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians.

Our institutions and media are contributing to Islamophobic and anti-Arab bigotry and creating pressure to remain silent about the Palestinian cause. Whether on the street or social media, in university offices or the halls of Congress, millions of people are trying to stifle support for the Palestinian resistance to Israeli forces.

At the protest I attended, that woman wanted me and my peers to worry that our actions would doom our career prospects and future livelihood. Despite the threat against my future from her, GW, Western media outlets and the U.S. government, I will not stand down. Through attending even more protests, gaining perspective from Palestinian peers and educating myself on the long history of liberation, I’ve learned not to let anyone or anything stop me from using my voice to defend my beliefs.

Silence is the biggest indicator of how much power an institution, like GW or even the U.S., has over its members. As young people, using our voices to support Palestinians is crucial to their liberation. Palestinian people living in the U.S. and in Gaza do not have the luxury to speak freely about the injustices they face every single day. Almost 2 million civilians have been displaced from Gaza, more than 27,000 people have been killed and thousands more are injured, starving and sick. As scholars and humans, students have a duty to stand up for Palestinians’ right to self-determination and statehood so they can achieve liberation.

As Audre Lorde wrote in “Sister Outsider,” “Your silence will not protect you.” Students should never let strangers, peers or the University stop them from advocating for their beliefs and rights. Once students like you and me overcome the fear of speaking up, we can create change for generations to come.

Sanjna Moola, a first-year majoring in international affairs, is an opinions writer.

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