“People think the problem is far away, but it’s closer than most people think."
Arianna Smith

Palestinian and Middle Eastern history was the focus of the second day of Palestine Awareness Week, organized and held by Wayne State activist organization Students for Justice in Palestine on April 4.

SJP displayed artifacts related to Palestinian and Middle Eastern history in Manoogian Hall’s Arabic Lounge. Visitors walked around tables, viewed the displays and listened to Arabic music.

The artifacts shown dated back to the last century of British and Israeli occupation and included documents, including the first ever Palestinian passport, maps, currency, photographs and newspapers, as well as miscellaneous items, including license plates, flags and soda bottles.

The items on display were loaned to SJP by a WSU anthropology and eastern language professor.

“When I first learned about the Palestinian struggle in high school, I became very passionate about it,” freshman SJP member Lawrence Lezuch said. “It was important that I helped out this week to spread awareness about the issue.”

He said the issue of the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict over territory and religion.

Lezuch said SJP is a firm supporter of the Palestinian view of the conflict, and the purpose of displaying Palestinian artifacts is to prove that Palestine has a right to exist.

“We don’t just want Palestinian students to come observe the history," he said. "Students that come to see these artifacts get better information about this topic.”

SJP President Summer Baraka said the main goal of SJP events is to spread awareness, not just for Palestine, but also for other national issues as well.

“We really try to relate the struggle in Palestine to the struggle at home,” she said. “We try to work with and show solidarity to anyone that’s in the struggle for justice.”

Baraka said although this was the second annual awareness week since she became president, the artifact display was new.

“The point of the artifacts is to show people a tangible representation of Palestine,” she said. “People think the problem is far away, but it’s closer than most people think. Thankfully, the university as administrators have been very helpful and supportive to our organization.”

SJP secretary Mayssa Masri said that she helped coordinate the artifacts display in the interest of knowledge and understanding.

“This event is a good opportunity for students to learn what they might not have known before about Palestinian culture,” Masri said. “If they’re interested, they’ll want to know more.”

According to their Facebook page, SJP is an organization of students seeking justice, liberation, self-determination and human rights for the Palestinian people. For more information about the organization or Palestine Awareness Week, visit their Facebook page.

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