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PVS Students Push for Palestine

Jenna Qaddoumi

Amidst the ongoing onslaught of the Palestinians within Gaza, and continued violence through both the West Bank and international Diaspora, activists and ordinary people have mobilized for peace. Within PVS, students have also mobilized across the student body and clubs. The Memphis Muslims for Justice Club (MMJ), a student-led initiative for social change, held a teach-in at the Memphis Islamic Center (MIC) on December 16, 2023, in an effort to educate people on Palestinian history and the movement. 

The event, student-led and organized, took place in the Musallah of the MIC with about 50 people in attendance. Ms. Amal Altareb, a PVS teacher, supported the event as advisor of the MMJ club. The presentation included five main parts. The students extensively researched topics in the preceding few weeks. Through resources like Decolonize Palestine, Palestine 101, and more they gave an immersive educational experience, covering the history of Palestine, the current situation in Gaza and the West Bank, parallels to other conflicts, and politicians’ stances.

The event started with PVS sophomore Rukaiya Barrouk’s Quran recitation. The first presentation afterwards was on the history of Palestine. Named “Palestine 101,” it was presented by sophomore Maymuna Faqih, who spoke about the 75 years of the Palestinian Peoples’ suffering under the settler colonial project of Israel. She talked about political Zionism, the Nakba, and the Naksa, which resulted in the deaths and displacement of millions of Palestinians. She illustrated the steady occupation of the Palestinian land, taking more and more land each decade. 

PVS senior Aisha Duldul and sophomore Hawa Osman were next, presenting the current situation in Gaza and what made this atrocity so unjust. The two emphasized the injustice of the ongoing genocide and how it was a deliberate, methodical expulsion on the part of Israel to ethnically cleanse the Gazans. 

After the Gaza presentation came the presentation of the West Bank, by senior Jenna Qaddoumi. Qaddoumi talked about the 1967 events leading to the exile and violent occupation of many Palestinians living in the West Bank, as well as the almost two hundred checkpoints and settler projects. She detailed the ongoing violence, degradation, fear tactics, and humiliation that plague Palestinians’ day to day lives, at the hand of the IDF. 

The fourth section was on parallels of the occupation in Palestine to other events. White Station High School sophomore Zahra Altareb drew parallels between South African apartheid, the genocide of the Indigenous Americans/trail of tears, emphasizing the colonial violence of Israel. Altareb also spoke on IDF training of the American police force, leading to more brutality. The IDF uses a special type of martial arts meant to be as lethal as possible, tactics used to subjugate Palestinians and Americans, specifically black and marginalized peoples. 

The fifth and final section was centered around American politicians’ stances both local and federal, presented by PVS junior Fayo Bushra. Bushra educated attendees on their elected officials stances and how many of our government workers have been paid out by Zionist lobbyist groups to support Israel and protect them from their own crimes. Bushra spoke about Tennessean congressmen and senator’s opposition to a ceasefire. 

After the student’s presentation, guest speaker Michael Perez, who has a PhD in Anthropology, presented as well. Each of the sections of the event were given with the intent to educate those on the Palestinian plight.

The teach-in was meant for Memphians to learn about Palestinians and the long, vicious struggle they’ve undergone. With this in mind, after highlighting the injustice of what is happening, the teach-in was also meant to push for a ceasefire. Despite whatever previously held biases people have, there can be no valid notion that what the Gazans are going through is justified.

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