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Students, faculty attend vigil honoring Palestinians killed in ongoing war

A speaker addresses attendees of Friday’s vigil, which honored Palestinians killed by the Israeli military. (Jessica Allen/Daily Bruin)

By Shiv Patel and Sam Mulick

June 2, 2024 9:30 p.m.

Over a hundred people attended a vigil Friday evening to honor Palestinians killed by the Israeli military in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, a month after the violent attack on and subsequent police sweep of the now-dismantled Palestine solidarity encampment at UCLA.

Ten organizations – including Students for Justice in Palestine, Faculty for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace and the Middle Eastern Student Association at UCLA – hosted the event in Dickson Court. The vigil featured speakers ranging from graduate students, a faculty member, non-UCLA affiliates and Maghrib, a Muslim prayer after sunset.

After the Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian political party and militant group Hamas on Israeli villages, which killed around 1,200 people, the Israeli military has since killed around 35,000 Palestinians in its air and ground siege on the Gaza Strip, according to the Associated Press. Students across the country have led protests and formed encampments calling for universities to divest from the Israeli academic systems and military.

Kye, a doctoral student in mathematics who did not give their last name, said he was frustrated with the lack of progress students have made toward divestment.

“I’ve been feeling tired and burnt out,” they said in a speech. “I’m tired of trying to convince people to care.”

Ahmed, a second-year medical student who did not provide his last name, said in a speech that his family in Palestine was proud of UCLA students’ protests.

“Seeing the encampment was absolutely beautiful, and everyone in Palestine is very proud of our work,” he said. “My uncle even would send me videos from the news of students here.”

Ahmed said he felt isolated in October when Israel’s invasion of Gaza began. However, he added that as the year went on, he saw many students, especially those in SJP, speak out, which he called “incredible.”

Chris, a graduate student in math and physics who did not provide their last name, said in a speech that they wished more graduate student workers would take part in the ongoing strike led by United Auto Workers Local 4811, which represents graduate and postdoctoral academic workers across the UC. The union, which began striking May 28, is alleging unfair labor practices by the University and demanding the UC divest from companies with ties to the Israeli military, along with other demands.

He added that even after June 30 – the end of workers’ contracts and the last day through which the strike was authorized – he will continue fighting for the UC to divest from Israel.

“It was never going to change everything overnight just by authorizing a strike vote,” they said in a speech. “If the strike deadline for the end of it on June 30 comes and passes and the university doesn’t divest, that doesn’t mean things are over with. That means we start organizing over the summer, increase pressure, start recruiting new incoming undergrads coming into the fall. This is going to be a long-term haul.”

Saree Makdisi, a professor of English who spoke at the event, said in an interview that he attended to show his support for victims of the war in the Gaza Strip, as well as his students who were affected by the attack on and sweep of the encampment.

Makdisi, who is a member of FJP, added that he was inspired by students’ support for each other within the pro-Palestine movement.

“I think the students were extraordinary in showing support and love for each other and community, and in crossing the boundaries that we’re often told can’t be crossed, like between Muslims, Christians and Jews. I thought it was extraordinary,” he said.

Makdisi also said he admired the dedication of students protesting for Palestine to voicing their opinions, adding that he remembers trying to do the same thing as a student when he was in college.

“A university needs to be a place where people can express themselves, especially a public university,” he said. “It needs to be a place where people can feel comfortable.”

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Shiv Patel | Campus politics editor
Patel is the 2024-2025 campus politics editor and a Photo contributor. He was previously a News contributor on the campus politics beat. Patel is a second-year mathematics and economics student from Gilberts, Illinois.
Patel is the 2024-2025 campus politics editor and a Photo contributor. He was previously a News contributor on the campus politics beat. Patel is a second-year mathematics and economics student from Gilberts, Illinois.
Mulick is a news contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a third-year sociology student from northern New Jersey.
Mulick is a news contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a third-year sociology student from northern New Jersey.
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