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COMMENTARY: Students for Justice in Palestine are students too

Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers—New Brunswick (SJP) and its allies do not feel safe on campus due to a lack of support from the Rutgers administration. – Photo by @itstandsforhighquality / Instagram

Since Oct. 7, 2023, I have not felt safe on campus.

When I wear my keffiyeh, I feel as if I am taking on a deadly risk — the risk of being racialized as a fanatic terrorist, which is how the media and government have portrayed my people.

Tragically, my fears were recently realized when three Palestinian students at Brown University, Haverford College and Trinity College wearing their keffiyehs were shot. How am I supposed to know if I am the next target?

The Rutgers administration has not only failed to protect me adequately, but it also has not expressed any interest in doing so.

I am a Palestinian-American student at Rutgers from Gaza, and, as we speak, my family members and loved ones are being attacked for the supposed crime of being Palestinian. But this is not my family's first loss in Palestine.

My grandfather was a preteen when he survived the 1948 Nakba and became a refugee in his own homeland. Today, I am watching my family be displaced again.

The occupation has stolen many things from my family and me. As a Palestinian-Gazan, I have had the opportunity to return to Palestine many times. But, due to Israel's deliberate fragmentation of the Palestinian people through enforced geographic segregation, I have never been to the place that is today called Israel.

I have never been to the West Bank, and, no, I have never been to Jerusalem, the city to which millions of people from across the world flock but which I cannot reach. Because I am from Gaza, I have been urged not to travel through Ben Gurion Airport. Instead, I take a long journey where I fly to Cairo Airport and have to cross the border — that is if they even let me in to visit my family.

People simply tell me to get rid of my Gaza hawiye, or ID card, so that I can return to the rest of Palestine. But, holding onto my Palestinian ID card is my form of non-violent resistance.

Israel's open-air prison is a collective punishment that all Gazans endure. As a result, my family and I have been living in exile. Even today, settlers are living in my grandfather's home in Israel since 1948.

Since Oct. 7, 2023, I have lost at least 30 members of my extended paternal family in Gaza alone. And this number does not even include my other family and friends. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's psychological warfare of shutting down telecommunication and internet services continues to distress me, as my maternal family members remain in Gaza.

It should be noted that this is only one story from one member of Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers—New Brunswick (SJP).

Despite our efforts, the administration has taken no public accountability and has not released a public condemnation for the leak of the suspension letter to the press. It has also not publicly acknowledged the student endangerment caused by its unprofessionalism.

To make matters worse, members of SJP did not have the typical finals week most students on campus had in the Fall 2023 semester. Instead of studying for exams, we were in political hearing meetings with the Rutgers administration, distracting us from our student priorities.

It should also be noted that not all of us had accommodating teachers who would give us extensions. The unprofessional manner in which the Rutgers administration has treated its grieving Palestinian students is yet another example of the disappointing and poor leadership on campus.

Students for Justice in Palestine is a student organization at Rutgers University committed to supporting the Palestinian people's right to self-determination.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.YOUR VOICE | The Daily Targum welcomes submissions from all readers. Guest columns and commentaries must be between 600 and 900 words. All authors must include their name, phone number, class year and college affiliation or department to be considered for publication. Please submit via email to by 4 p.m. to be considered for the following day's publication. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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