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The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

OSU students protest in response to Israeli Defense Force ‘meet and greet’

Sam Misa
Oregon State University students and Corvallis residents gather in the Student Experience Plaza on campus protesting against Israel on Thursday. Originally expected to be a protest against planned Pro-Israeli spokespeople in a closed door event Thursday evening, the event was canceled and the protest was moved to the afternoon.

Correction: Incorrect information regarding Khawater Hussein’s thoughts on the event shutdown was included in the initial posting of this article on Feb. 9. Hussein said she was disappointed in what she believed was the reasoning behind the event shutdown. Additionally, a statement by Maria Hindi was incorrect about Oregon State University’s involvement. The Students of Chabad invited the Israeli Defense Force members to OSU’s campus.

Clarification: This story has been updated to include that a representative of The Students of Chabad said it was their understanding that the event was canceled over concerns about protests, and the university has not confirmed this. Furthermore, the story has been updated to more accurately portray the content of the photos held by protestors.

“We stand here in solidarity and demand for the administration to be clear that the safety of marginalized students is recognized.” 

This was a part of a speech given during a pro-Palestine protest in the Student Experience Center Plaza on Feb. 8, held in response to former Israeli Defense Force members coming to Oregon State University’s campus. 

The protesters circled around the plaza, chanting lines such as “free, free Palestine” and “up, up for liberation, down, down for occupation.”

Protesters held posters with the Palestinian flag and phrases such as “Palestinian Lives Matter” and “These are your heroes?” with photos allegedly showing acts committed by the Israeli army during the ongoing conflict in Palestine.

“I’m here to show my support for Palestine, (as there is) the ongoing genocide against them committed by Israel,” said Ian Diaz, a physics graduate student at OSU.

Sam Misa

Diaz said he doesn’t feel safe with what he considers “Zionists” visiting campus.

Calls for protests began after The Students of Chabad Corvallis at OSU planned to host a closed meeting with the intent of hosting a panel with former Israeli Defense Force soldiers at the Memorial Union. 

Mid-Valley Jews for Peace and Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights were opposed to the event and planned a protest on the same day.

When the event was canceled, which a Students of Chabad representative said they believed it was due to concern from OSU about potential protests, although the university has not confirmed this, Mid-Valley Jews for Peace and SUPER stated they were pleased the event was canceled, but unimpressed by the reasoning.

“Zionist language has historically been used to justify the Israeli occupation and undermine Palestinian liberation and sovereignty, ” said Yulee Nishimura, an organizer for the protest. “Posing potential counter protests as a greater threat to public safety than the presence of a foreign militia perpetrating an active genocide against the people of Palestine on this campus is extremely dangerous, and jeopardizes the safety of the entire Corvallis community.”

Sam Misa

OSU responded to the situation with “while students and student organizations may hold views that do not represent those of the university, OSU remains committed to fulfilling our public mission, which includes protecting the ability of individuals and groups to engage and speak on topics of community interest, consistent with their rights and responsibilities.”

Khawater Hussein, a participant in the protest, said she was disappointed in what she understood was the reasoning behind the event shutdown, which she believed focused on a potential counterprotest rather than the speakers invited.

“Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and Jews on our campus are much more likely to be targeted and hurt if we allow hateful, white supremacist, genocide-promoting rhetoric to have a space at OSU,” Hussein said. 

Maria Hindi, a second-year majoring in fish and wildlife whose family is from Palestine, believes  Israeli soldiers should have never been invited onto campus by the Students of Chabad in the first place.

“There’s a fine line between freedom of speech and I would say it’s almost a form of discrimination to bring people who are supporting the genocide,” Hindi said.

Harrison Samaha, a former OSU student whose father is of Palestinian descent, had grandparents who were forced to leave to Lebanon in 1948. 

Samaha believes the statement given by the university implied that OSU’s views are against the pro-Palestine protest.

Sam Misa

“I’m here because I can’t support OSU having the Israeli Defense Force speak here,” Samaha said. “Especially right now given the sheer amount of civilian casualties that have occurred at the hand of the Israeli Military.”

The Students of Chabad responded by saying they believe there should be open discussion around these topics and that these topics should not be shut down.

“I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I think just as important as it is for that opinion to be allowed to be expressed, it’s also just as vital for there to be an open discussion,” said a representative of The Students of Chabad.

The protest’s organizers have planned similar events for the near future, with the group holding a march for Palestine this coming Saturday at the courthouse.

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  • R

    Rachel PeckFeb 15, 2024 at 3:30 pm

    It is a shame that some felt the IDF soldiers should not be allowed to speak. Without hearing other perspectives, without the free exchange of ideas, we stay in our own bubbles and lose potential connection to our fellows. Words and ideas may make you uncomfortable, but they cannot harm you (with the exception of incitement to harm somebody).

    The two IDF soldiers scheduled to speak were medics who were in bases attacked by Hamas on October 7th. They fought back against this unprovoked attack, saw friends die, treated the wounded, were wounded themselves, and have since been out of the fight, recovering from physical and psychic injuries. Their story is one not of violence or genocide (which is not happening in Gaza; rather a defensive war is being fought in a dense urban environment where Hamas fighters, weapons, and command centers are hidden in civilian hospitals, schools, mosques, and homes). Their story is an uplifting one of hope in the face of loss and catastrophe, and would have benefitted the protesters had they chosen to hear it, engage, and ask tough questions.

    • J

      Judy AllenApr 24, 2024 at 6:38 pm

      X I do not support the demonstration against Israel. I will not be contributing to OSU alumni fund any longer.