SJP members protest IDF soldiers at Hillel Shabbat dinner

israeli soldiersThe display SJP created and spoused near the GC conference room to protest against Israel Occupational Forces | Karyne Martins Araujo, PantherNOW

Karyne Martins Araujo | Contributing Writer

Students for Justice in Palestine at FIU organized a new protest to voice their opposition to the invitation extended to two Israeli soldiers from Hillel at FIU to celebrate Shabbat and share their experiences on the Oct. 7 attacks.

During the protest at the Graham Center on Friday, Mar. 8, SJP at FIU prayed and called out a few of the names of over 10,000 individuals lost during the conflict, at the same time as the Jewish Shabbat was being celebrated in a conference room next door.

The FIU Police Department, led by Chief Officer Alexander D. Casas, was in attendance, having previously engaged with SJP organizers to establish clear guidelines regarding the conduct of the protest within the building.

“So, with all the emotions involved around this conflict, regardless of what side you’re on, I would still say that I’m very much proud of our student body and the student leaders. No issues are expected,” Casas said.

When asked about his feelings regarding the protest in progress outside the room, soldiers Netta Zeevi and Neta Fanta expressed surprise.

“We don’t really understand why, to be honest,” Zeevi said. “I lost a lot of people that I know.”

“I have lost one of my best friends and a few other friends during this war. So, we are here just to honor them and tell their stories, like I am from Ethiopia and I’m here to educate a little bit more about the Jewish Community because we are not all white,” Fanta commented on Zeevi’s response.

Protestors can be heard speaking to students as they enter GC 243 | Elise Gregg PantherNOW

Jon Warech, Director of Hillel at FIU also expressed his resentment with the ongoing protest since the Jewish community has the chance to celebrate the Shabbat once a month at FIU.

“We put together the Shabbat program once a month at FIU and each time is a different theme. It is unfortunate that we cannot celebrate our program without them bothering Jewish students, just because they don’t like the topic. That does not mean that they can harass our students,”  Warech said.

As the protest intensified, one of the students leading the speech shouted while discussing the conflict supporters and the thousands of losses, even emphasizing the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution of his right to freedom of expression.

Staff and FIUPD officers approached the student and asked him to leave for raising his voice loudly enough to disturb the service inside GC 243. He was escorted out while arguing with officers.

Student arguing with FIUPD after being escorted out of the Graham Center for raising his voice to “disruptive” levels. The student declined to provide his name to members of the media. | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

“Children have been trapped in cars for days over dead bodies. It is absolutely disgusting to invite members of a foreign military who are accused of genocide to come to this campus. It shouldn’t be accepted,” Zuhra Akhtar, co-president of SPJ, said.

israeli soldiers
Members of SJP, holding posters con-Israelis “Genocidal war criminals not welcome” and pictures of Palestinian children “murdered by the IOF” | Karyne Martins Araujo, PantherNOW

The protest ended with the entire group being escorted out from Graham Center, chanting on the lawns.

“IOF you can’t hide, you are committing genocide! IOF off our campus! From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

In an email to PantherNOW on March 11, Warech stated that SJP members waited at building exits for students leaving the Shabbat “well after the IDF soldiers had gone home.”

In texts with PantherNOW, Casas confirmed on March 11 that after students were removed from GC many remained at the exits.

“FIUPD have been made aware of incidents where students leaving the Graham Center felt they were harassed or intimidated and we are investigating every allegation,” Casas writes in his statement. “Some of these incidents were posted on social media. FIUPD will take the appropriate action based on our investigative findings.”

IOF refers to the Israeli Occupational Forces, a term used to identify that views are not aligned with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and their occupation of Palestine.

1 Comment on "SJP members protest IDF soldiers at Hillel Shabbat dinner"

  1. Typical SJP thuggery. Now they are targeting Hillel Chabat dinners. Apparently, there was one person arrested for battery.

    SJP goes way beyond protesting. They should be banned from every campus.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.