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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Palestinian guest speaker encourages using anger as a tool for advocacy

Monique Bever
A protest in support of Palestine is held at Old Town Square. The protest took place Oct. 22 and began at 2 p.m.

Aziza Hasan shared how anger can be a “helpful energy” during a talk on “navigating the impossible” of the Israel and Palestine conflict during a virtual visit to Wichita State on Nov. 11. 

The creation of Israel in 1948 caused the displacement of over 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; the death toll of Israeli citizens has been lowered to 1,200. 

Following the Hamas attack, Israel started a bombing campaign on Gaza. As of Nov. 14, 11,423 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7.

Hasan is a Palestinian woman who graduated from Bethel College and Wichita State. She was a member of former President Barack Obama’s 3rd Advisory Council Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2015-2016. She is the current executive director of New Ground, a program in Los Angeles aiming to “strengthen Muslim-Jewish relations in America.”

Hasan discussed the research of Emile Bruneau, a neuroscientist who studied brains in conflict. He studied how Democrats and Republicans viewed each other, how a Palestinian felt while watching the struggles of someone from Israel, and other groups commonly in opposition. 

He was primarily concerned with how “brain networks are modulated by intergroup conflict” or rather, clashing with a person or group changes how the brain would normally respond. One conclusion Bruneau found is that people often overestimate how much the other side hates them and respond to that perception before trying to empathize.

Hasan further explained that it is important to take time to sit with that anger and articulate it clearly rather than responding with hate. She emphasized having constructive conversations. 

“We need to create spaces for holding the rage so that we can make sure that we are also not fanning the flames of hate,” Hasan said.

After speaking, she put the meeting participants into groups. Each person was given a couple of minutes to discuss what was bothering them while others listened, as Hasan had suggested, “compassionately.” 

Before people went into groups, Hasan shared her own story. 

“I have a very dear friend. She’s lost 70 members of her family in Gaza, and this week, 42 were buried in a mass grave,” Hasan said. “I can’t unsee that, nor do I want to.”

Hasan recommended each person create a space within themselves to hold onto any pain and anger they feel around the conflict in Gaza until it can be released in a productive manner.

“Whatever your strength is — some people like to protest, some people are really great at writing letters (and) some people are really great at getting a point across and gathering people together,” Hasan said. “We can all lean in on our elected (officials) and say, ‘This is important.’”

You can find your representatives’ phone number at house.gov. Some organizations, like US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, offer scripts to read to Congress members. Other organizations urge people to utilize social media platforms to notify representatives.

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About the Contributors
Loren Amelunke
Loren Amelunke, Reporter
Loren Amelunke is a second year news reporter for The Sunflower. Amelunke is a currently a psychology major, but she ultimately plans to be an investigative journalist or a foreign correspondent in the future.
Monique Bever
Monique Bever, Reporter
Monique Bever is a reporter and photographer for the Sunflower. Bever is a sophomore majoring in philosophy pursuing a career in law. She uses she/her pronouns.

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