Vigil Held for Great Return March Victims

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Photo by Joanna Lee / Staff Photographer

Nkechi Ikem
Staff Writer

A vigil organized by UCSB Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and People Organized for the Defense and Equal Rights of Santa Barbara Youth (PODER) was held outside of the Santa Barbara Courthouse to commemorate the lives of 58 Palestinians that were killed by Israeli forces during a protest near the Gaza border. The event took place last Thursday evening.

About 100 community members, including students from UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara City College, and Dos Pueblos High School, came to the vigil to pay their respects. Candles were lit as the names of each of the 58 Palestinians killed were read out loud.

Last week, hundreds of Palestinians participated in what has been termed the Great Return March, primarily protesting the Trump administration’s decision earlier this year to move the U.S.-Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, among other issues. The New York Times reported that, along with 58 people killed, an additional 2,700 Palestinians were injured during the protests.

The vigil also followed a failure of UCSB Associated Students Senate to pass a divestment resolution proposed by SJP after more than half of A.S. senators and proxies walked out during a break in the meeting.

After names were read, organizers encouraged attendees to share their feelings about the event. One Palestinian student in tears thanked the organizers for finally giving her “a space to just mourn,” free of having to answer questions or debate politics.

Several Jewish attendees spoke the phrase “Not in My Name” to indicate their disagreement with the policies of the Israeli government. One Jewish attendee in particular, Barbara Parmet, the co-founder of the Santa Barbara chapter of the Jewish Voice for Peace, expressed her disappointment of the events in Gaza.

“This is just one horrifying event,” said Parmet, in an interview with The Bottom Line. “There’s whole systems of discrimination that are going on all the time and have been for 70 years.” Parmet is the co-founder of the Santa Barbara chapter of the Jewish Voice for Peace.

Shahryar, a student at UCSB and a member of SJP, helped organize the event. Shahryar, who declined to use his last name for anonymity, led the coordination of the vigil and asked attendees to remember interconnectedness of lives both domestic and abroad.

“I want them to take away the fact that even if they can’t see Palestinians, even if they can’t interact with them, those are lives that matter,” Shahryar told The Bottom Line. “I would hope that people would be able to exercise some form of empathy when looking at this [event].”

Joanna Lee contributed reporting.

1 COMMENT

  1. We can all agree that Israel is a shining star of freedom in a region, sadly, largely devoid of it. In truth, Israel is a veritable social justice Shangri-La compared to the rest of the Arab Middle East.

    On a side note, I looked up the innocuous sounding “Jewish Voice for Peace” online and quickly learned that it is a radical, fringe, far-left anti-zionist organization.

    It is such a vile organization that it is on the ADL’s top-10 list of anti-Israel organizations. Quite an honor!

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