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UNF Students for Justice in Palestine kicks off Israeli Apartheid Week

By Fern

Activists pose for a photo after the vigil.

Jacksonville, FL – Over two dozen students and community activists gathered on April 9 to begin holding events for Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of North Florida (UNF). Students for Justice in Palestine at UNF led a vigil to honor Palestinian martyrs killed by Israel with help from the Jacksonville Palestine Solidarity Network.

The vigil was held in front of the student union on campus with a symbolic apartheid wall constructed and painted in the background. Several activists gave speeches and led the audience through chants like “Free, free Palestine!” and “Netanyahu you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!” Some of the speakers discussed how this year marked 70 years since Al-Nakba, “the catastrophe,” which saw many Palestinians forced off their land in 1948. Near the end of the vigil, the names of many martyrs were read aloud over the microphone before several Muslim, Christian and Jewish students led short prayers from their own traditions.

“Israeli Apartheid Week at UNF this year is an opportunity to raise awareness of Israel’s crimes while paying homage to the Palestinian resistance against them. The vigil, with the Separation Wall apparent in the background, started off this occasion in a solemn way. I look forward to the rest of the events this week,” said Albert Kishek, a local organizer with Jacksonville Palestine Solidarity Network and former member of Students for Justice in Palestine at Florida State University.

“The vigil had amazing energy and attendance. On 70 years of Nakba, it’s important for all revolutionaries to organize against the settler colonial state and draw the connections between imperialism overseas and repression at home, which we were able to draw by making the connections of state repression that targets Palestinians in our home and Black Americans in the belly of the beast,” said Sara Mahmoud, another organizer with JPSN and active fighter against police crimes.

Several more events are planned over the course of the week to raise awareness about Israeli apartheid and Palestinian resistance, including a local demonstration on April 14 at 2 p.m. in front of the Duval County Courthouse in downtown Jacksonville. This event is in solidarity with the Great March of Return.

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