Towards the end of the spring semester, Students for Palestine held various events during Israeli Apartheid Week (20th – 24th March) to celebrate Palestinian culture and educate students about the key issues that the society have been raising awareness for throughout the year. Impact’s Lottie Murray headed down to the exhibition and chatted to the Students for Palestine society’s President Elana Salameh about the importance of celebrating Palestinian culture, the significance of each of the stalls at the exhibition, and finally their SU motion which recently passed in the latest referendum.
Throughout Israeli Apartheid Week, the Students for Palestine committee organised different workshops and fundraisers which were centred around “a bunch of different things when it comes to talking about Palestine and Israel.” The week began with a bake sale on Monday to “raise money for the Palestinian appeal that Islamic Relief is doing, which is focusing on getting emergency aid to people, especially in the Gaza Strip.”
Following on from this, there was a kazaf, which loosely translates to ceramics, a practical workshop in which the Students for Palestine members were invited to learn and create! The workshop was based on “talking about the importance of that [kazaf], the history of kazaf and then we also got people to paint their own kind of designs on plates, which was really fun.” The committee put an accessible event where there were options for attendees to pay a small price (£2 for members and £3 for non-members) to design a plate or alternatively they were given paper to participate for free.
stalls showcasing a variety of “Palestinian food, clothes, books, movies, tatreez, art and more”
A few days before the exhibition, the committee invited their members along to delve into Palestinian literature and film, with a focus on poetry. Everyone who attended gathered to analyse different poets and films. This allowed everyone in the room to connect through an appreciation for the historical, and the committee were also able to provide a space to “embrace that part of our culture”, especially since it is often the case that “when people think of Palestine, they think of the conflict straightaway.”
The exhibition itself was held in Portland studios and the vast space was filled with stalls showcasing a variety of “Palestinian food, clothes, books, movies, tatreez, art and more.” Elana ran through the significance of each of the stalls and the Palestinian produce they are selling such as “Holy Land dates, Zaatar, and Nabulsi soap”, which were all at the exhibition to allow people to engage with Palestinian culture.
Nabulsi soap is one of the many examples of the admirable Palestinian women who craft the soap from “olive oil which is really good for your skin.” Although, the week was certainly not solely tailored towards celebrating Palestinian women, as an entirely female committee it was definitely true that, “Palestinian women is something that we [the committee] kind of want to celebrate.”
When it came to the planning of the exhibition, the committee publicised their plans for the event through their social media and advertised for volunteers, and Elana shared that many people were very keen to help in any way that they could; “they’ve all been great; you know the second that we sent out the volunteer sheet people were on it straightaway and putting their names down, which was really good!”
“the SU will likely play an increased role in campaigns and student activity relating to Palestine”
Additionally, any society that wishes to hold an event in the Portland building must follow the SU’s protocol. The Students for Palestine committee were incredibly grateful for how easy the booking process was and told us that, “all we needed to do was just submit the right forms and make sure it was on time” and they felt supported when they forgot a few things such as tables and pinboards etc.
The Students for Palestine society have been very vocal this year and one of the huge milestones for them, and the SU as a whole, was that their solidarity for Palestine motion passed in the latest referendum. The motion received a total of 574 of 955 votes. When the motion passed, Riwa Kaidbey (Students for Palestine’s publicity officer) took to their Instagram to demonstrate gratitude for the motion’s supporters and outlined that the ‘solidarity for Palestine’ motion will “mean that the SU will likely play an increased role in campaigns and student activity relating to Palestine; and also hopefully support students affected by the conflict.” Beneath this post, one commentor described the committee as a “girlboss committee” and there is tones of support for the implementation of this motion.
You can find out more about the work that the students for Palestine society are doing by visiting their Instagram.
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