Students organize “Shut Down for Palestine” demonstration at UC to remember thousands of lives lost
CINCINNATI (WXIX) -Students at the University of Cincinnati held a “Shut Down for Palestine” demonstration Friday, where they remembered the thousands of Palestinians killed since the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel.
“UC wants a ceasefire, UC wants a ceasefire,” the students chanted at the steps of the Tangeman University Center as they held a banner with the names of several of those killed.
“This has nothing to do with religion. This has nothing to do with a political agenda. We are here to talk about the loss of life,” Founder and President for Justice in Palestine at UC and organizer of Friday’s demonstration Laila Shaikh said.
About 11,500 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7, and another 2,700 have been reported missing, believed buried under rubble, according to the Associated Press.
The students held a banner that had the list of names of those killed, including many children.
“We couldn’t even put down every name in under a week. That’s how many people we are losing. We couldn’t print down on a damn piece of paper how many people we lost,” Shaikh said.
Shaikh says that they are demanding a ceasefire and that the mass killings need to end.
“Students for Justice in Palestine isn’t here to be proactive or just be controversial right now. We are just gathering to say we want the loss of lives to stop. We want the mass deaths to stop,” Shaikh said.
The Associated Press says that a total of 1,200 Israelis have died since Oct. 7.
But it is not just those who attended the “Shut Down for Palestine” demonstration who want the killings to stop.
Student and intern at the Cincinnati Hillel Phoebe Litwak says she did not attend the demonstration, but the loss of life overseas has also impacted her.
“It’s so upsetting that lives are being lost on both sides,” Litwak said.
Litwak says she has received texts from Cincinnati Hillel to not go to certain parts of campus.
“It’s a little bit scary because I get texts from Hillel saying don’t go to this part of campus because they are going to be spouting antisemitic phrases,” Litwak said.
Shaikh says that she and her organization have received backlash during the last few weeks.
“We’ve been getting harassed. We’ve been getting death threats. I’ve had letters sent to my place of work. I’ve had my phone tampered with,” Shaikh said.
Cincinnati Hillel and Students for Justice in Palestine at UC express unity despite little contact.
“Why can’t we come together and work together to make people feel safe on both sides on campus,” Liwak said.
Cincinnati Hillel attempted to contact UC’s Students for Justice in Palestine, but emotions are too heightened to have fruitful conversations right now. Shaikh says those conversations will eventually happen.
Students for Justice in Palestine will continue to host similar events in support of those affected by the ongoing violence, Shaikh said.
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Copyright 2023 WXIX. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.