Wayne State’s Students for Justice in Palestine is hosting its annual Palestine Awareness Week virtually this year, continuing to raise awareness about the Israeli occupation in Palestine and mistreatment of Palestinians.

This year’s Palestine Awareness Week is held in collaboration with SJP chapters at Oakland University and Eastern Michigan University and Palestinian community organizations, including the University of Michigan’s SAFEumich nonprofit. The organizations are hosting events each day of the week. 

“We’ve been collaborating with a lot of universities and that way we’d have a broader audience,” said Ayah Shkoukani, co-vice president of WSU SJP and senior sociology major. “It’d be kind of better to have the different perspectives in the events that are going on." 

The virtual week will explore the history of Palestine, food and culture through documentaries and conversations, according to WSU SJP.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Palestine Awareness Week typically included in-person activities featuring comedians, guest speakers, poets, food and fashion shows, said Rashid Mossallam, junior neuroscience major and president of WSU SJP. 

“We decided to divert a little bit. Everyone has to adapt at this point,” Mossallam said. “There’s no doing face to face events anymore. It’s not as good as face to face events but we still spread our awareness.” 

Yousef Shqeireh, pre-pharmacy student and co-president of WSU SJP, has been a member since last semester. Being born and raised in Palestine until the age of 14, Shqerieh joined SJP to “give more to his country,” he said.

“We’ve been raising money to buy blankets and heaters for the winter,” Shqeireh said. “It’s important to spread awareness of something that nobody is basically talking about.”

Raising awareness and sharing Palestinian culture on WSU’s campus for students to understand is important, Mossallam said. The more people know about what is taking place in Palestine, the more likely they are to stand up and help.

Finding creative ways to plan events and activities for students to participate in is challenging during the pandemic, Shkoukani said. 

“This event is one of our biggest events and we hope a lot of students come out,” she said. “We hope that we get a good turnout and many students benefit from these events.”

Throughout the week, prizes will be given away to participants, whose names will be added to a raffle, Mossallam said. Winners will be contacted for their information and will have the opportunity to win plaques, “key 48” pins and stickers.

Chantell Phillips is a contributing writer for The South End. She can be reached at chantellphillips@wayne.edu.

Photo courtesy of SJP.