SJP promotes solidarity with Palestine

Multiple visitors wore “families for collective liberation” pins on keffiyehs, a Palestinian scarf. Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar

By Elizabeth Coss and Christopher Gillett

Youngstown State University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine hosted an event to share Palestinian history, personal experiences and the evolution of the Israeli-Palestine conflict in the Rossi Room of Kilcawley Center on Jan. 26.

Batool Alkarain, a junior international business major and vice president of SJP, said there’s significance in listening to personal stories to understand the conflict and people affected.

“It means a lot to me to be a part of this organization because I want to help educate people about [Palestine],” Alkarain said. “We’re here tonight to tell people about what’s been happening for 75-plus years, and now we’re sharing our personal stories … we’re all going to share history about Palestine that’s related to personal family and personal lives.”

SJP members talk with attendees following the event. Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar

Eric Resnick, an active member of the Cleveland chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, was a speaker at the event. Resnick said he believes it’s important for the public to condemn Israel’s actions. 

“What we are witnessing today is a world event that is unprecedented in our lifetime, and hopefully, we will never see another like this again. This is genocide. This is as big as it gets,” Resnick said. “This isn’t something where there’s a gray area. Everybody needs to be on one side or the other of this. Either you’re on the side of genocide or you’re on the side of justice.”

Resnick explained Jewish Voice for Peace stands in solidarity with SJP and said not all Jewish Americans support Israel.

“As a Jewish person, it is very important that we do as many of these types of events as possible. I have never turned down an invitation to do one of these,” Resnick said. “Not all Jews are Zionist. Not all Jews stand with Israel while genocide is going on.”

A drop of Arabic coffee falls into a cup provided at the event. Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar
Arabic coffee and kulaj, a flaky, cream-filled pastry were served at the event. Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar

Lauren Burgess, a senior political science and philosophy major and board member of SJP, said the organization wanted to promote education so attendees could leave the event knowing more about Palestine and its history.

“I would say our intention — what we wanted to be significant — was educating people. Having people that didn’t know the entirety [about Palestine], maybe had some questions coming in, leaving with a better understanding,” Burgess said.

Palestinian flags were draped around tables. Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar

Burgess traveled to Washington D.C. in November 2023 for a national pro-Palestine protest. Burgess said the event’s energy was invigorating.

“There were so many people there, but I wasn’t there on behalf of any organization or as a part of any organization. It was more so my own will. I wanted to go, and I found a way,” Burgess said. “[The protest] was invigorating. It was powerful to be around so many people from all different parts of the world, all different ages, religions, races, and to feel like we had a collective journey.”

SJP collaborated with the Mahoning Valley chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America to invite speakers from various national and local organizations.

Glenn Hall, a membership coordinator in the Mahoning Valley DSA, said he believes the community at large should be a part of events supporting Palestine. 

“This event is to inform our community — our local Mahoning Valley and Youngstown State community — about their neighbors and their community members. Youngstown has a large Arab American and Palestinian population. So, these are people that we live next to, that we work with,” Hall said.

Editor’s Note: Tala Alsharif, president of SJP’s YSU chapter, is a contributor to The Jambar. Alsharif has no involvement in the editorial process.