By John Osmand | March 13, 2009
LOS ANGELES–Students held a memorial on March 4 for Palestinians killed in Gaza and elsewhere, and delivered a letter to the president of the University of Southern California (USC), demanding academic freedom for Palestinians, scholarships for 10 Palestinian students and educational supplies to be delivered to universities in Gaza.
Coordinated by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the action included about a dozen students carrying 10 makeshift coffins and Palestinian flags through campus. One student played taps, while another banged a drum. Afterward, students petitioned passersby calling on the administration to agree to the request.
A group of Zionists showed up to counterprotest. One sign depicted a person wearing a kaffiyeh, the traditional Arab headscarf, covering their face and carrying a gun. The text over the image read, “There is a reason why terrorists wear masks.”
A Jordanian-Palestinian student said that she was deeply offended by the association of a symbol of ethnic pride. She and the SJP co-president Alex Shams confronted the group, demanding that the sign be removed. After some debate, the Zionists put the sign away.
USC has witnessed several actions for Palestine, including a much stronger, louder protest in early February. Palestinian students participated in a debate with Israeli students the same day as the funeral march, and USC hosted a regional panel on boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel’s apartheid on March 8.
Activists say that if the university rejects the request or doesn’t respond in two weeks, they vow to continue to press for the cause of Palestine.