DEARBORN — This week Students for Ethical Investments (SEI) employed their creativity and passion to promote awareness of the on-going crisis in Palestine by hosting an event called “Trapped in Gaza.”
SEI is a student-led humanitarian and environmental advocacy group at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Their aim is to investigate the moral implications of American investments and educate the campus community on those issues.
Sponsored in part by the Student Activities Board, the event consisted of a checkpoint simulation and screening of the documentary “GAZA STRIP.” The checkpoint created by the student group was fairly realistic and drew a large crowd in the University Center on Monday.
Student volunteers imitated civilians being harassed, searched, verbally and physically abused and arrested at the checkpoint by Israeli soldiers. Many passersby stopped to watch the commotion.
“It was an eye opening re-enactment and viewing of the persecution and harassment that the people in Gaza go through on a daily basis,” said David Boone, a junior at Eastern Michigan University.
The film, which was shown shortly after the mock checkpoint enactment, is a documentary by American filmmaker James Longley, which follows a thirteen year old boy and his daily interactions living in Gaza. It portrayed the inhumane and dehumanizing conditions that are forced on the Palestinians in that region. “GAZA STRIP” was filmed during the first four months of 2001. During that time period Ariel Sharon was elected as the Prime Minister of Israel and the Israeli military made its first major incursion into Gaza. Many students were shocked to see the everyday hardships faced in Gaza and expressed inspiration to stand up for Palestinian rights which are being denied.
Soony Saad, a Dearborn High School student, was intrigued by the project and decided to volunteer by imitating an Israeli soldier for mock checkpoint. Although Saad was well-informed about the conflict, he still felt the film “really hit home. It conveyed a lot more than facts and numbers but allowed me to connect to the on-going struggle for peace through the young main character.”
The event was an overall success and instilled young students with a new passion to be active in fighting for basic human rights. Said Nada Noor, current president of SEI: “At the end of the day we strive and hope for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, but as Students for Ethical Investments our goal is not to solve the conflict but to keep the community aware of their connection to the issue and how they can resist the occupation by divesting (from the United States military aid to Israel) as Americans.”