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SJP event stirs discussion about peace in Palestine

By AKILEA McKAY/ VN FEATURES EDITOR
On December 10, 2015

The Human Rights and Social Justice in Palestine event on Wednesday, Dec. 3, provoked discussion and debate.

The dinner, film and discussion were hosted by the student organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

SJP served a catered Middle Eastern dinner and showed the documentary “In the Image: Palestinian Women Capture the Occupation.”

The film follows a group of Palestinian women in the West Bank working together with the Israel human rights organization, B’Tselem.

Following the film, a discussion was held featuring guest speakers from Jewish Voice for Peace, Don and Sharon Greenspon.

During their statements, there were quite a few interruptions – not from University of Detroit Mercy students but from outside guests in attendance.

These included a handful of Palestinian refugees and one Zionist Jew, all of whom offered strong viewpoints.

After the floor was open for questions and comments, opinions and beliefs were expressed throughout the room.    

For those who don’t know about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is a very controversial issue.

Ranim Sulliman, co-president of SJP with sophomore chemistry major Sarah Sayed, said she had thought a lot of the negative comments would make the students feel uncomfortable but in the end she felt it did the opposite.

“Without the presence of those people, I just don’t think the students would have truly understood the point of the documentary,” she said. “I was glad that the Zionist explained their side as well and we were able to avoid bias. It was a perfect opportunity to show how controversial the issue really is.”

About seventy people attended. Among them was freshman Phoenix Monty.

Monty, an accounting major, said it was his first time attending an event where there was so much disagreement in the room.

“I feel like the people participating in the discussion ruined the message by overpowering it with their ideas of right and wrong,” he said.

Monty wasn’t the only student who felt this way.

Several students began to leave the event as soon as the debating started among guests.

On several occasions, history professor Diane Robinson-Dunn, the SPJ faculty advisor, had to interject and smooth things over for the event to continue.

Junior Zoya Shaikh said she enjoyed the event and thought it was informative.

“It was great to see such a strong turnout and so many opinions discussed,” she said.

The event ended on a positive note with Sulliman and Sayed thanking the guest speakers and everyone in attendance.

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