Across the West Bank, hundreds of checkpoints are restricting the travel of thousands of Palestinians — children are late to school and commuters have to drive through windy side streets. On March 9, 7,000 miles away, 30 students brought a mock checkpoint to UC Santa Cruz.
Student demonstrators gathered arm in arm, blocking the path through Quarry Plaza, and later McHenry Library, to advocate for the Palestinian people and to fight the Zionist movement. Demonstrators handed out pamphlets and held signs. Those who wanted to cross the line were asked to show their student IDs to illustrate the struggle of Palestinian people, said UCSC student and event organizer Shayda Hami.
“A lot of people have misconceptions about what it means to be a Zionist,” Hami said. “By publicizing that in a form of a checkpoint we are publicly putting out our opinions about how we support Palestinians and their endeavor.”
Zionism is a movement within the Jewish community that aims to re-establish Israel as a Jewish land. Although the movement has been around for over a century, it’s only within the past decade that travel across the West Bank has been extremely restricted because of over 500 checkpoints set up by Israel.
The demonstration was mostly peaceful, with some students and faculty supporting the checkpoint. A few professors traveled with the demonstrators to witness the event in case conflict broke out.
There was some confrontation between demonstrators and observers. Students yelled at demonstrators, calling them uneducated and pushing against the wall intermittently throughout the day, Hami said. Although the police arrived, there were no arrests made.
While the main goal of the event was to call attention to Palestinian issues, another was to highlight the similar struggles that will occur under the Trump administration.
“We’re paralleling people in Latin America and their border struggles and people in Palestine and their border struggles,” said UCSC student and demonstrator Daniel Torres-Serna.
In America, many fear with the Trump administration’s decision to build the wall that border checkpoints are imminent, Torres-Serna said.
“Without movements like this, people forget that there is a continuous struggle and a continued narrative,” Torres-Serna said. “A lot of these issues are cross-generational. A lot of these struggles you can’t ignore, because being a person of color is inherently political.”