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DC high school students attend March on Washington for Gaza

DC+High+School+students+attended+the+March+on+Washington+for+Gaza+on+Saturday.
Wesley Hoy
DC High School students attended the March on Washington for Gaza on Saturday.

On Saturday, January 13, students from high schools across Washington DC attended the March on Washington for Gaza. The Arab Student Union (ASU) at Jackson-Reed advertised the protest to students on their Instagram page and invited students from all over DC to join a group of JR students in attending the event. 

The event was organized by a coalition of various Muslim and pro-Palestine organizations, including the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). The demonstration marks almost 100 days since the start of the war, and tensions remain high. Protestors called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, an end to unconditional United States funding of the war, and for the United Nations (UN) International Court of Justice to hold Israel accountable for war crimes.

The protest started in Freedom Plaza with speeches from many pro-Palestinian speakers and ended with a march to the White House. According to the AMP, around 400,000 protesters were in attendance.

“Students have opinions and beliefs too, and should be free to speak up about things going on around the world,” said Innea Kersey, a senior at JR. “The sad reality is that many of the victims in Gaza and the West Bank right now are our age.” 

Since the start of the war on October 7, when Hamas killed 1,200 people in southern Israel, Gaza has lost over one percent of its 2.3 million residents, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, with more than 10,000 of those killed being children. According to the UN, over 90% of the population has been displaced due to Israel’s intense bombing campaign. One in four people in the Gaza Strip are starving.

As tensions rise, students look to make their voices heard. “The things that are going on in Palestine are inhumane,” said Palestinian JR sophomore Yasmine Foty. “I attended the protest to show solidarity, and to protest Biden and other various political officials [in the US] who are complicit in the killing of over 20,000 Palestinians [through] not calling for a ceasefire.” President Biden has repeatedly asserted his support for the Israeli government and has continued to supply the Israel Defense Forces with weapons, missiles, and supplies to prolong their siege on the Gaza Strip.

Foty is a member of the ASU at JR. Since the beginning of the conflict, the ASU has been organizing much of the pro-Palestine activism at the school, including the group trip to the march. While the ASU has been largely successful in spreading its message online and outside of school, the school has actively censored much of its in-person organizing. 

“We have tried to organize several events at the school to show solidarity for Palestine and the Palestinian people yet we have been shut down consistently by our principal, Mr. Brown,” said Foty. Recently, the ASU tried to organize a Palestinian Culture Night at the school, but the school administration shut the event down. Attempts from the ASU to contact Mr. Brown have been unsuccessful. Instead, the event was held Thursday, January 18 at Busboys and Poets in Takoma Park.

“Student solidarity with Palestine shouldn’t be discouraged or silenced,” said Kersey, who believes that for students, the best way to get involved in pro-Palestinian organizing is to start or join existing clubs supporting the cause at school, to give generously to charities supporting Palestinians, and to show up to events supporting Palestine to stay in the loop.

Opponents of the Palestinian movement in the US cite pro-Palestinian organizing as being antisemitic, like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), who declare that any criticism of Israel is antisemitic. 

“I hope that one day the West can come to the full realization that Palestinian liberation does not equal hatred or violence against Jewish people,” said Kersey. 

The largest progressive anti-Zionist organization in the US, Jewish Voice for Peace, was in attendance Saturday, along with many other Jewish Palestine solidarity groups. Despite this, many pro-Israel organizations, like the ADL and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, immediately condemned the march last Saturday as antisemitic. 

This conflict is complex and historically challenging, but the overall consensus among student protesters at the rally on Saturday is the hope that one day, there can be peace for Palestinians in the constantly embattled region. “I want to see where my dad has lived in and was kicked out from,” said Foty. “I want to see the beauty of Palestine, the food, the music, the culture, the people, not the ruins of it.”

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About the Contributor
Wesley Hoy, Web Technical Editor
  • 2023-24: Web Technical Editor
Wesley does the web design and development for the website. If you think that the website looks bad, he thinks it's important for you to keep that opinion to yourself.  Wesley is the president of the computer science academy, even though he doesn't have any clue how to write good HTML and CSS. Wesley would like to use the rest of his staff bio to acknowledge his twin brother, Luther Hoy, who he loves very much.
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