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Duke Students Protest Fighting Between Israeli, Palestinian Forces

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DURHAM — Despite pleas from world leaders, the fighting between Palestinians and Israelis continued Tuesday. The fighting has been going on for the past 12 days. The violence may be happening half a world away, but it affects people in North Carolina.

Duke students marched silently Tuesday to protest the crack of gunfire in Israel. Abdullah Al-Arian's parents were once Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip. He says Palestinians have born the brunt of the violence.

"We're here to mourn the death of over 100 civilians and the injury of 2,500 more in Israel and the occupied territories," he says. "I definitely feel the conflict has been unbalanced. You have Israel with one of the best armies in the world against defenseless people with nothing but stones to defend themselves."

Duke student Yael Zemack is from Israel and keeps current on the situation through e-mail from her mother. She did not attend the demonstration, but is familiar with the refrain.

"The Palestinian side, claiming that if Israeli troops stopped firing then everything would end, is not very well-based in reality because people are throwing stones, shooting guns, burning tires and blocking roads," she says.

Duke religious leaders are trying to bridge the old religious gap. Campus Muslim religious leader Abdul-Haseez Waheed and campus Rabbi Bruce Bromberg Seltzer led a dialogue on Yom Kippur. The rabbi wishes Arab students had followed their interfaith example.

"When we were coming together to speak out about the loss of life, there was a way to do it with mutual respect including members of both communities," Seltzer says.

Duke students say there are two cultural traditions that they would like to export from the United States to the Middle East: interfaith dialogue and peaceful protest.


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