Students for Justice in Palestine stages 'die-in' at Israel Fest
The University of Maryland Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) interrupted a Jewish Student Union (JSU) event on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 with protests and a staged “die-in."
Roughly 20 SJP sign-carrying students began the protest with pro-Palestinian chants such as “Viva viva Palestina” and “From the river to the sea/Palestine will be free,” across the university mall, but well within earshot of the pro-Israel event.
"Right now they're celebrating an apartheid state called Israel over there on the mall..."
“Nelson Mandela was pro-Palestine” and “Zionism Kills” were just some of the messages written on the signs.
The JSU’s annual Israel Fest event attracts hundreds of students every year for free ice cream and camel rides. This year, however, the event also attracted protesters and the campus police.
“Ride a camel! Taste falafel! Get your hair braided or henna tattoos! You can even try an Aroma coffee! We will have a variety of activities to learn about Israel and the diversity present in Israel's society. We will have many fun activities all day so make sure you don't miss out!” the JSU advertised on Facebook.
The protesters then made their way down the mall and staged a “die-in” in the middle of the festival. Shortly afterwards, university police arrived on the scene to keep protesters out of walkways, per the university’s rules.
“The campus police were called to the scene, and they came over to talk to the lead protester with the megaphone, and they told them they had to get up. The police did not seem to know exactly what the regulations were and what to do, so it was somewhat disorganized,” Daniella Berger, an active member of UMD Hillel, told Campus Reform. “They were told to move out of the middle and stop obstructing the walkways, so they moved on to the grass, dispersed a little more, and continued yelling and chanting.”
“A girl right in front of me with a Palestinian flag turned to some of the people gathered and said ‘just walk away, just go keep killing’, Berger recalled.
“Right now they're celebrating an apartheid state called Israel over there on the mall and we're trying to protest that," Sarah Tayel, SJP protester toldThe Diamondback, UMD’s student paper. “We're not trying to do anything harmful, anything violent. We're just trying to spread awareness about what's going on.”
The Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society (PLUMAS) tweeted in solidarity with the SJP after the event.
“It disappoints me. You don't see any of the Jewish student organizations interrupting their events,” Jon Glaser, UMD student told Campus Reform.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ericabau2