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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Palestine Solidarity SMTX advocates for justice amidst war

Members+of+Palestine+Solidarity+SMTX%2C+listen+and+hols+signs+as+leaders+speak+during+the+organizations+pro-Palestine+rally%2C+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+28%2C+2023%2C+at+The+Stallions.
Nichaela Shaheen
Members of Palestine Solidarity SMTX, listen and hols signs as leaders speak during the organization’s pro-Palestine rally, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

Palestine Solidarity SMTX, a new community organization, aims to raise awareness about the ongoing challenges faced by the Palestinian people amidst the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Palestine Solidarity SMTX leader Zayna Abdel-Rahim, an international relations junior, said the creation of the organization stemmed from searching for an outlet for the San Marcos and Texas State community to discuss Palestine in a more academic way.

“We wanted to show the people above us and the local government and state government that the students, the youth and the greater San Marcos community are against apartheid,” Abdel-Rahim said. “We’re against occupation. We’re against settler colonialism and we stand for justice. Justice is an ideal that this country was founded upon.”

Abdel-Rahim, a Jordanian-American, said the Palestinian community means a lot to her. In Amman, the capital of Jordan, Jordanian-Palestinians are believed to form more than 80% of its population.

“They’re a part of my own identity,” Abdel-Rahim said. “The events that take place in the Middle East have shaped my life.”

The organization has hosted events through its academic event coordinating committee and an event coordinating committee, from a panel discussion to a pro-Palestine rally hoping to showcase Palestinian heritage and history.

Through these initiatives, Palestine Solidarity SMTX seeks to humanize the narratives often overshadowed by political rhetoric.

Zachariah Al-Natoor, an urban planning sophomore and member of Palestine Solidarity SMTX, shared his family’s story during the organization’s pro-Palestine rally on Nov. 28.

Al-Natoor’s grandfather lived on an orange farm in Jaffa, Palestine. Jaffa was a village attacked when the occupation of Palestine began in 1947. Al-Natoor’s grandfather and grandmother walked out of Palestine and seeked refuge in Jordan. They spent some time in Jordan before being pushed into Kuwait. Operation Desert Storm, the Gulf War, then displaced his grandparents once again, being made refugees twice. This led his father to seek refuge in the U.S.

“Millions of people have been refugees. People don’t have homes. We kept the keys to our houses when we left because we assumed we would go back. We have not gone back,” Al-Natoor said. “What else does it take? How many more people have to die? How many more people have to be displaced?”

As of Dec. 9, according to the Gaza Health Ministry at least 17,700 Palestinians have been killed and 48,780 wounded in Israeli attacks in Gaza since Oct. 7.

Al-Natoor has an aunt living in the Gaza Strip. He said he checks the registry hoping not to see a relative’s name.

“I’m seeing people that look like my cousins [on social media]. I’m having to check the registry for my family’s name. Understand, please, it’s horrible and it’s been going on,” Al-Natoor said.

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  • A member of Palestine Solidarity SMTX holds a sign in support of Palestine, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • A crowd gathers as Palestine Solidarity SMTX leaders prepare to speak at pro-Palestine rally, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • Members of Palestine Solidarity SMTX hold a banner with names of martyrs at the pro-Palestine rally, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • Members of Palestine Solidarity SMTX, listen and hols signs as leaders speak during the organization’s pro-Palestine rally, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • Community member speaks at the pro-Palestine rally, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • Zachariah Al-Natoor, an urban planning sophomore and member of Palestine Solidarity SMTX, sheds tears while talking to an attendee, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • Texas State student engages in discussion at the pro-Palestine rally, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • Texas State students hold signs in support of Palestine while listening to speakers share stories of their heritage, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • Members of Palestine Solidarity SMTX holds sign in support of Palestine, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • Texas State student holds a sign in solidarity with Palestine, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • Members of Palestine Solidarity SMTX hold signs and chant in support of Palestine, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • Members of Palestine Solidarity SMTX hold a banner with names of martyrs at the pro-Palestine rally, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

  • Zachariah Al-Natoor, an urban planning sophomore and member of Palestine Solidarity SMTX, shared his family’s story during the organization’s pro-Palestine rally, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at The Stallions.

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Students and community members who gathered to voice their support for the Palestinian cause during the Nov. 28 pro-Palestine rally held signs conveying messages of support, justice and demands of cease fire while chants of solidarity echoed from The Stallions on campus, Palestine Solidarity SMTX’s goal.

Attendees engaged in conversations during the rally with organizers, contributing to a broader conversation about the geopolitical conflict. Some attendees like Alaila Coleman, a public relations senior, shared a similar story to Al-Natoor.

Coleman’s grandfather was displaced from Palestine in the 1940s and eventually ended up in Brazil before coming to the U.S. Coleman said it’s been an identity struggle for her.

“It goes down generations. It doesn’t go away and the discrimination that Palestinian people face, it’s heartbreaking,” Coleman said. “My grandfather has told me about the destruction of his home. We can’t even go to see where he grew up, or where he spent time with his parents and his people.”

Coleman said her grandfather had to change his name when he arrived in the U.S. Her grandfather has since never stepped foot in the place he once called home.

“There’s people, family members that I will never get to see again or meet because of the destruction of Palestine and the destruction of that history that is constantly having to defend itself,” Coleman said.

Coleman is grateful for Palestine Solidarity SMTX’s creation and events they have hosted.

“It gives me hope that we’re able to make a difference in what’s going on. There’s families that are being separated, and it’s just a habitual thing. This didn’t just happen once. This happened multiple times within the course of history. People need to find their humanity,” Coleman said. “These are children. These are families, these are mothers. These are sisters, brothers, it’s a whole lineage that is just being destroyed.”

The crowd of over 60 people at the rally included individuals from various backgrounds united by a shared commitment to advocating for the rights and well-being of Palestinians.

“It makes me incredibly proud to be a member of Texas State and a member of the San Marcos community,” Abdel-Rahim said. “We live in Texas, and a lot of the time it’s hard to find a safe place to talk about these issues. So it felt rewarding to provide that for a lot of people and we will continue to do so.”

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