Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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Protestors show solidarity with Palestine at start of SIU encampment

Protestors+gather+under+impromptu+shade+as+they+sit+and+lay+on+the+Morris+Library+lawn+for+their+SIU+divestment+encampment+April+30%2C+2024+at+Morris+Library+in+Carbondale%2C+Illinois.
Dominique Martinez-Powell | @dmartinez_powell.photography
Protestors gather under impromptu shade as they sit and lay on the Morris Library lawn for their SIU divestment encampment April 30, 2024 at Morris Library in Carbondale, Illinois.

Editors Note: This article has been updated to add the official title of the meeting held at the Carbondale Public Library.

Signs saying “FREE PALESTINE” and “ DEFUND THE GENOCIDE” line the gates set up and litter the grass of the lawn at Morris Library. Tents, chairs and blankets spread out for people to stay with hopes of more people joining.

People are greeted by a table full of pamphlets to choose from. Titles range from “From the Galilee to Gaza ”, “Strategizing for Palestinian Solidarity: From Demands to Direct Action” and “Why We Don’t Make Demands,”.

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Few police showed up early on to check the environment of the event, deciding not to stay the entire time. Some students went to the area to learn about the cause and how they could join.

They packed up and left before 7:00 pm with plans of starting the Faner march at 12 p.m. Wednesday before setting up the encampment again for the day.

After wrapping up several people from the event attended a community meeting held at the Carbondale Community Library organized by the City of Carbondale called “Community Conversation: Unrest in the Middle East” at 5:30 pm to 7:00pm providing people in the area a space to voice their concerns with the main topic being Israel’s occupation of Gaza.

A diverse range of people attended from all ages and religious backgrounds. People were able to get together as a community and talk to each other about their grief, worry and the stance Carbondale should be on the situation.

Attendee Justin Kenny spoke on behalf of a Jewish friend who lives in Carbondale and wrote in for the meeting.

The friend told a story of how he, as a Jewish person, knows what he and the people in his family have lost, and how they almost forgot to show the empathy for a Palestinian friend going through something similar with their people.

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“One day she just began to break down to me. It was out of the blue. In my ignorance. I assumed she had merely been overreacting to the mounting stress of her junior year,” the letter said. “But she explained that she had Palestine on her mind.”

A Palestinian community member spoke on the inequalities she experienced her entire life living in Palestine for four years and visiting summers to see her family.

They said they would struggle to get back to Palestine because of identification laws like specific identification cards Israel uses to track travel and other limitations put in place by the Israeli government making it hard for her to return home.

“So when we hear things about what’s happening in Palestine, 27,000 plus people who have died in Gaza, who, by the way, almost every single Palestinian in this room has some relation to someone who has died because of the occupation, or who has…homes destroyed,” they said.

They said they are confused by the” justification of the occupation” with all the evidence people see everyday scrolling through social media.

“Because for me, it’s easy to find empathy for any innocent human being and I always empathize with them, but why is it so difficult for people to empathize with the Palestinians?” they said.

Iranian Carbondale resident Machlin spoke on the urgent need for a ceasefire for the sake of the survival of Palestinians. He spoke on how just because Carbondale is a small town doesn’t mean its people do not have a voice.

“This is a way to say world peace right now is to call for a ceasefire, something tangible, something risky,” Machlin said. “For some reason, it’s risky to want people to stop getting bombed to death.”

The host of the meeting read out letters for the people who could not make it. Most of the people sending in letters were Jewish people unable to make it for religious reasons.

A letter sent in by a Jewish woman named Susan Pearlman talks about the attack on October 7 resulting in thousands dead, comparing it to the deaths in the Holocaust where millions died over time by governmental force with intent of ethnic cleansing.

“I have been there during this war and to others, and I feel strongly that those who died in Israel on October 7 must be remembered and mourned,” Pearlman said. “On October 7, Hamas terrorists crossed the border with Israel and murdered, burned alive, dismembered, tortured, raped and mutilated several thousand people in atrocity so horrific that I will not describe them to you here.”

Another Jewish person in the community, Dawn Roberts, who stands with Israel said Jewish people have always been on the land and are there legally.

He wants a world where Israel can exist and recognize the Palestinians people’s rights at the same time.

“This approach fosters stability and peace, respecting Israel’s sovereignty while also recognizing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Palestinian people,” Roberts said. “As I stand in solidarity with Israel, I reaffirm my commitment to the principles of democracy and human rights which are the foundations of any just and peaceful society.”

Plans for another community meeting are in the works to continue the discussion.

To stay up to date on all your southern Illinois news, be sure to follow The Daily Egyptian on Facebook and @dailyegyptian on X [formerly known as Twitter].

Jamilah Lewis can be reached at [email protected]. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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