Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘A past, a present and no future’: Vigil dedicated to Palestinians honors lives lost

As the crisis in Gaza worsens, students at Wichita State are still advocating for and honoring the lives of Palestinians facing violence. On Thursday, Nov. 9, the Arab Student Association (ASA) hosted a vigil for the lives lost in Palestine outside of the Grace Memorial Chapel near the Rhatigan Student Center. 

During the vigil, Suha Jibril, a math lecturer, and Jens Kreinath, an associate professor of anthropology, read about 200 names and ages of the first Palestinians to die since Oct. 7. ASA hung sheets of paper, including the names and ages of every Palestinian that died from Oct. 7 through Oct. 26. 

There was also a table with flyers about upcoming events to discuss and support Palestine, as well as a poster board with facts and figures about the conflict. 

After Jibril and Kreinath finished reading the names, ASA opened the microphone to anyone willing to share their thoughts and feelings about the tragedy. 

The creation of Israel in 1948 led to displacing more than 700,000 Palestinians and the capture of 78% of the region’s land. Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist political group, launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7. According to Reuters, the Israeli death toll of that day has been lowered from 1,400 to 1,200. Israel started a bombing campaign on Gaza shortly after Oct. 7.

As of Nov. 14, 11,423 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7. This includes 4,630 children, 198 medical staff and 41 journalists. Of the 35 hospitals in Gaza, 21 of them are out of service due to bombing and lack of medical supplies and electricity. There are about 42 bombs dropped by Israel every hour. 

On Oct. 12, another vigil for Palestinian lives lost was held on the Wichita State campus. According to Abdelkarim Jibril, a computer science major and an ASA event coordinator, ASA felt it was important to host another nearly a month later due to the drastic increase in the death toll and violence. The death toll was over 1,500 Palestinians as of Oct. 12.

“We’re just trying to raise awareness that so many innocent people are getting obliterated because ‘Israel has the right to defend itself,’” Jibril said. “Is it defense when you’re killing 10,000 people, who most of them have nothing to do with any of that?”

Jibril hoped that anybody who saw the vigil would look into the issue and its history further. 

“There’s a lot of Palestinians on campus, a lot of Arabs,” he said. “Our voices need to be heard.”

Jibril is Palestinian and has extended family in the West Bank. He said he and his family in the United States worry about them every day. 

“We have lost family,” he said. “We’re scared even in the West Bank, even though it’s not getting bombed the hell out of like Gaza is. They’re not getting money anymore. Things aren’t coming in; things aren’t going out.

Several people attending the vigil said the crisis in Palestine has been mentally draining. Jibirl said he sees the violence in Palestine whenever he opens social media.

“You see people dying, see people crying, screaming, every single (time) — these are innocent people there,” Jibril said. “What did they do? They did nothing to deserve this.”

Most American news media outlets have focused on Israel’s perspective, giving a one-sided view of the violence in Palestine, according to Jibril.

Jibril mentioned that Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian U.S. Congress member, was recently censored due to her support for a free Palestine. Jibril said this contributes to Palestinians not being heard in America. 

“Raising awareness for something such as the Palestinian cause in America, where it’s not very known about, is very important,” he said.

Easton Vogt, a student speaker at the vigil, said, “It’s so hard, and it’s so sad and so tragic that we are in the minority and seeing the crisis as it is in America.”

Vogt said that for the U.S. to call out Israel on its war crimes, Americans would have to admit that the U.S. committed war crimes during the end of World War II with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the endless violence in the Vietnam War, invading Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11, and crimes against Venezuela

“It is hard for many Americans to look at the crisis (in Palestine) and see it as bad because seeing Israel engaging in the atrocities that it is causing are no different than what we’ve (the U.S.) done for 100 years in modern warfare,” he said. “It takes a lot of bravery for lots of Westerners to look at this because you’re also looking at yourselves.”

According to The Guardian, the United Nations (UN) said Israel and Hamas may have both committed war crimes since Oct. 7. The UN said Hamas’s “indiscriminate killing of hundreds of noncombatants” and taking Israeli citizens as hostages is a crime under international humanitarian law. 

The UN also said that Israel’s siege on Gaza may have committed the war crime of “collective punishment.” The UN called Israel’s siege and their instructions for Gaza’s population to evacuate, along with Israel denying Gaza food, water and electricity, as “not compatible with international humanitarian law.”

Kreinath shared the significance of Nov. 9 with the audience and the history behind Israel.

“It is today, 100 years ago, that Hitler made the first attempts in 1923 on Nov. 9 on the government’s democratically elected government in Munich, so there’s a significance to this day,” he said. “Today is also the 85th anniversary of the heist, Kristallnacht, which, in a way, tragically perpetuated some of the problems we are encountering today.”

At the end of World War II, many Jewish people embraced the Zionist Movement after fearing persecution from the Nazi regime. This caused many to flee to Palestine and press for a Jewish state.

He also shared how he thinks some of the strategies used for propaganda about the violence in Palestine are similar to those used by the Nazi regime. One method dehumanizes your enemy. 

Many people at the vigil shared how to combat those methods and help Palestinians.

Jibril recommended making social media posts and using your platform to uplift Palestinian voices or anybody else speaking about the conflict.

Kendah Ballout, another student speaker at the vigil, shared how boycotting weapons manufacturers would decrease their profits.

“The people benefiting most from this war are the CEOs of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon and other weapons manufacturers,” Ballout said. “If you are an engineering major at this university, I am begging you to not use your knowledge and your education to build weapons and bombs that are murdering us.”

Kreinath also drew everyone’s attention to how incomprehensible 11,000 deaths are. He shared his sorrow at every loss of potential for the betterment of humanity each individual carried with them.

“Every one of these persons had a past, a present and no future.”



*This story has been updated to include the Nov. 14 death toll of Palestinians in Gaza. The previous version included data from Nov. 10.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Genesis Merriett
Genesis Merriett, Reporter
Genesis Merriett is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. She is a sophomore majoring in mathematics, however, Merriett enjoys writing as well. She is originally from Missouri, but lived in Colorado for most of her life until moving to Wichita five years ago. Additionally, she enjoys drawing, crochet and exploring new places in her free time.
Allison Campbell
Allison Campbell, News Editor
Allison Campbell is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. Campbell is a junior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Campbell hopes to pursue a career in writing or editing after graduation. They use any pronouns.

Comments (0)

All The Sunflower Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *