Palestinian rights advocacy organization Filasteen, the Chicano Caucus, and other student organizations assembled a human wall on Low Plaza stretching from one fountain to the next yesterday afternoon to demonstrate the injustice created by the security fence in Israel and one being built along the Mexico-U.S. border.
At the event, demonstrators chanted, and several students were given the opportunity to speak. Eventually, the human wall was unlinked, symbolizing organizers' call to take down the existing physical walls.
"It was a speak-out against walls in general, which can ruin an economy and suffocate people," Tina Musa, CC '09 and a member of Filasteen, said.
Speakers included several students from cosponsoring groups, as well as professor Noha Radwan from the Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department. Among other topics, some at the event charged that the walls in Israel's West Bank and along the U.S.-Mexican border were tools of racism.
"We talked about both walls. Even though they are two separate situations, there are a lot of parallels," Musa said of the barriers, adding that the event was a chance for the participating groups to show solidarity for each others' causes.
"It's a shared struggle for justice, and we are trying to bring light to what the walls mean and the hypocrisy of them," Karina Garcia, CC '07 and a member of Lucha, said.
The event was sponsored by Lucha, Students Promoting Empowerment and Knowledge, the Asian American Alliance, the International Socialist Organization, Act Now to Stop War & End Racism, and the Columbia Coalition Against the War, among others.
While the event occurred, the Israeli advocacy group LionPAC, led by Ari Gardner, CC '08, distributed literature on College Walk. The handouts described the wall as a mechanism for self-defense against suicide-bombers, rather than as tools of injustice.
Gardner, who also passed out advertisements about LionPAC's upcoming event regarding the place of Israel within the Middle East, described the human wall as "claiming the Israeli fence was equivalent to an apartheid wall," a comparison that he said was misleading and inaccurate.
Members of Filasteen said they will continue their efforts by organizing a larger speak-out in the fall with the construction of an actual wall on Low Plaza.