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SU Political Science students join ceasefire protest

Members of the SU Political Science Club stand outside the Israeli Ambassador's house in a protest calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Image courtesy of Colin McEvers.

On March 2, 2024, members of the Salisbury University Political Science Club traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend a protest which called for a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The students joined thousands of protesters who gathered outside the Israeli Embassy to begin protesting.

The protest in D.C. was part of a worldwide day of action demanding an end to the Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip, which has been escalating since Hamas' Oct. 7 ground and air assault resulting in 1,200 Israeli deaths. Over the course of the war, approximately 31,000 Palestinians have since been killed in subsequent IDF military actions.

The devastating nature of the war, particularly the dire conditions prevalent in Gaza, has been dominating Western media and public conscience. Americans between the ages of 18 to 29 have demonstrated great concern for the conflict. They tend to be much more sympathetic to Palestinian grievances and more wary of Israeli conduct than past generations.

Since the war began Oct. 7, many members of the SU community have expressed great concern and anger over the ongoing violence in Gaza. At the end of 2023, the Muslim Student Association hosted an outdoor demonstration protesting Israeli military actions which a large number of students attended. As the war carries on, those in the community who are appalled by the conflict continue finding ways to demonstrate.

Scott Stohlman, an SU senior serving as historian of the Political Science Club, has been keeping up with the Israel-Palestine conflict since his freshman year of college. He has attended six protests in support of the Palestinian cause, including the March 2 ceasefire protest which he brought to the attention of the Political Science Club.

“I found out through social media," Stohlman said. "I just follow some of the organizing programs that put it on."

"It was originally to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and also to protest the US arming of Israel.”

Although Stohlman had already planned on attending, he shared the details at a club meeting less than a week before the protest. Half a dozen students made the trip to D.C. via the Metro Center, marking the Political Science Club's first political event.

“I think that getting the Political Science club to go was a positive thing," Stohlman said. "I’m glad that there was so much turnout because not only is it important to go show up to things like this, but it’s important for Salisbury University to have students who are actively involved in politics."

"Of course national politics is always important, but local and state politics are just as important if not even more important for university students to be involved in, and up until now there has really been no organizing outlet for the university."

To the left is Scott Stohlman, the Historian for the Political Science Club, speaking to a worker at the protest. The Israeli Ambassador's house stands in the background. Image courtesy of Colin McEvers.

One of the primary goals of the protest was to cause disturbance, achieving this through mobilization of a large volume of people. Stohlman believes that disrupting the people who are making impactful international decisions, such as the Israeli Ambassador Michael Herzog, is necessary for making a difference.

“I know change can happen, change can always happen, and it is Americans, as American citizens, our job to make sure our government isn’t making possible what’s happening in Gaza, I mean quite literally hell on Earth," Stohlman said. “Every bomb dropped on [Gaza] is US made, and we’re completely complicit in the genocide, or whatever you want to call it."

"It’s on the US public to stop our leaders from doing that."

Beatrix Peck, the vice president of the Political Science Club, protested alongside Stohlman and the other students on March 2. Ever since the current war began last year, she has focused on the ensuing conflict and explored ways for SU students to have meaningful discussions about it, such as the joint Political Science Club Model UN student-led discussion on Oct. 12 that she helped organize.

Peck sensed intense passion and rage, emotions which became contagious as she spent more time protesting with the thousands of people who were present.

“I think the most impactful part [of the protest] was the actual act of walking around D.C., not necessarily standing in front of buildings, because people can go to a vacation home while they’re doing that," Peck said. "So just getting out there and starting at the embassy and walking through the streets I think really showed, because we had people off of their balconies, people on the roofs all showing support and listening at the very least… I think it made the most difference.”

Thousands of protesters stand outside the Israeli Embassy waving flags, holding signs and listening to speakers. Image courtesy of Colin McEvers.

The Biden Adminstration's foreign policy conduct, particularly funding the Israeli war effort, was the focus of extreme criticism during the protest. A plethora of posters and signs nicknamed President Biden "Genocide Joe", protesters accused the adminstration of war-induced atrocities and many declared that they would refuse to vote for him in the upcoming 2024 election.

"[Biden's] funding the war and he’s giving money to Israelis that we could use domestically, like really badly," Peck said. "And he is funding the deaths of hundreds if not millions of people, but I actually don’t think it’s going to have much impact on the outcome of the election."

Although his popularity among young voters has certainly taken a huge hit as a result of his foreign policy decisions, Peck believes Biden is likely to garner many votes from people who are set on preventing Trump's election as well as a greater amount of votes from those who approve of the administration's pro-Israel actions.



Gull Life Editor

Featured image courtesy of Colin McEvers

Video by Colin McEvers

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