Protests have erupted around the world because of the Israel-Hamas war.

Although tragic error (a recent military strike accidentally killed dozens of innocent Palestinians) to paraphrase Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might have finally turned the world against Israel’s offensive against Hamas, many college students across the country have long called the offensive a genocide against innocent Palestinian women and children, calling for an immediate ceasefire.

But genocides have happened since the beginning of time.

So, why does the alleged genocide of Palestinians resonate so much with college students?

Uyiosa Elegon, longtime organizer and co-founder of Shift Press said, “(Shift Press is covering the conflict in Gaza) because young people care very deeply about this and you know young people care very deeply about this for, I think, a lot of different reasons not only because so many folks have access to the real history of oppression of Palestinians, particularly in occupied Palestine and across the world.

“But also due to, you know, the United States’ huge support. Financial support of the Zionist state amidst all sorts of excuses they make for not supporting young people here in the States, right?

“So, they say that they can’t wipe out student debt, but they can give way more money than it costs to wipe out student debt to support a genocidal regime.”

University of Houston computer science student Ahad Adesanya said that he got involved in the overall protest movement after the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Despite activism, Adensanya said not much has changed legislatively since the murder of Floyd to prevent another similar tragedy from happening.

That movement opened his eyes to other struggles across the globe like the conflict in Gaza, slavery in Congo and issues in Sudan.

Adensanya wanted to bring awareness to the plight of the Palestinian people to his generation.

Reyna Valdez, a student at University of Houston and member of the nearly 10-year-old organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) told Houston ethnic media outlets, “For context, the student movement has been a very vital part to the Palestinian liberation movement for decades… So really what we’re seeing is that the last decades of primarily like Palestinian and Arab students making sure that their presence in their fight for liberation is like visible on our U.S. campuses and campuses across the world.

“This has…essentially…been building up for years… So, what we’re seeing now is not so much a like sudden interest in Palestine that students have, but rather a movement that’s been building for a very, very long time and is now at a breaking point with the genocide…”

Indeed, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians goes back ages.

But the conflict took a huge turn when Hamas kidnapped and killed approximately 1,200 innocent Israelis and foreigners on Oct. 7.

Furthermore, Hamas kidnapped 240 people, taking them hostage.

To date, Hamas has not released many of the hostages.

Reports show that Israel’s government knew about the possibility of an attack before Oct. 7.

However, the government failed to act on those warnings.

Even after the Hamas attack, it took Israel’s government hours to respond to the kidnappings and violence.

When Israel did respond, many of the country’s critics blamed them for indiscriminately striking targets in Gaza that were occupied by innocent women and children.

However, Israel has said that Hamas makes it a war tactic to congregate in areas that are highly populated by civilians.

While the deaths of many innocent civilians have always struck a chord with student protestors and leaders from other countries, the “tragic mistake” on Sunday has created even more condemnation for the Israeli prime minister.

Mohammed Abuassa said rescuers in the Tel al-Sultan neighborhood “pulled out people who were in an unbearable state.
Abuassa said, “We pulled out children who were in pieces. We pulled out young and elderly people. The fire in the camp was unreal.”

The Gaza Health Ministry reports that the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 36,000.

On Monday, Netanyahu said, “Despite our utmost efforts not to harm innocent civilians, last night, there was a tragic mistake. We are investigating the incident and will obtain a conclusion because this is our policy.”

Nevertheless, many student protestors in Houston have come to a conclusion already.

Pro-Palestinian protestors believe schools like University of Houston and others should divest from companies that support Israel.

Furthermore, they want changes in the U.S. government.

That change is to stop supporting what they call a genocide and providing consequences and repercussions to politicians that support Israel’s offensive in Gaza, even if that means former President Donald Trump returns to office.

Trump is also a supporter of Israel.

He has said that, if reelected, he would deport all pro-Palestinian protestors, not distinguishing American citizens from non-citizens.

Trump has also said that he would be a dictator on day one of a potential second term in office.

Despite believing that a Trump presidency would be just as bad as a Biden presidency when it comes to the Israel-Hamas war, University of Houston student Jade Madsoup said, “I think the ultimate thing right now is to make sure that the president understands that if he continues to support these types of things, there will be consequences and the consequences (are) him just not being voted back into office. So, whether we have Donald Trump or Joe Biden, I believe it’s gonna be a pretty similar outcome. So, my biggest concern is to make sure that Joe Biden is not in office anymore.”

Elegon said that although he believes Trump should be in jail, the former president did not oversee, deny or facilitate a genocide.

And despite many reports about the protests on other campuses, the college students that spoke to Houston ethnic media leaders said that they have not witnessed any antisemitism on campus.

Madsoup said that if antisemitism creeps into the protests, it is immediately shut down at University of Houston.

But what has crept into the conscience of young people is speaking out against the atrocities in the world, even if some of them are tragic mistakes.

There was a time not too long ago when the older generation complained that their younger counterparts were apathetic.

It would be a tragic error to still think that is the case.

Todd A. Smith
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