Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

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Woofapalooza
December 9, 2023

YDSA movie night raises Palestine relief funds

On Thursday Nov. 9, Augustana’s chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) hosted a fundraiser to raise medical relief funds for Palestinians affected by the ongoing conflict with Israel. Concessions were sold during a showing of the documentary “Gaza Fights for Freedom,” and senior YDSA president Zack Horve shared a presentation in hopes of educating the audience about the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“It seems that some students may not know everything about this issue or feel kind of scared to really get involved or use their voice,” Horve said.

The featured documentary covered the Great March of Return protests in Gaza that occurred between 2018 and 2019. While these protests were not the same as the present day conflicts, the message the documentary sent is still applicable.

“I think [the documentary] does a really good job of showing how these protests are handled and some of the specific ways that war crimes are knowingly being committed and have been committed systemically,” Horve said.

At the event, YDSA offered opportunities for students to learn more and get involved. Resources were available to help students who wanted to write to Congress and call for a ceasefire, according to Horve.

Although the event was hosted by YDSA, First-Year Tara Armas said the intention was not to push any political agenda. Instead, the goal of the event was to raise awareness about the people affected.

“I just want people to see how much pain is going on in Gaza,” Armas said. “A lot of people are just pushing it aside, and I think that’s really harmful and shows a sense of privilege that these people in Palestine just don’t have.”

While the event educated attendees on the history of the conflict between Israel and Palestine in general, Horve said that there is an important distinction between the Israeli government and the Israeli people as a whole.  

“A big talking point is that any criticism of Israel is anti-semitic, and that’s not true,” Horve said. “You can be critical of the actions of the Israeli government without being anti-semitic and saying that it’s the entire Jewish people. At YDSA we have no tolerance for anti-semitism.”

The documentary served to give context to the current conflict by showing some of the past events and protests that have occurred in Palestine as a response to the actions of the Israeli government. 

The event had a much greater turnout than members of YDSA had hoped, with around 25 people in attendance. Sophomore Fynn Greene, YDSA event chair, said that both fundraising and attendance surpassed expectations.

“It went really well and we blew past our fundraising goal,” Greene said. “[We raised] over $500, and our original goal was 200.”

Like Horve and Armas, Greene said that education is important in instances such as this. A majority of the information available about the Israel-Palestine conflict is spread through social media. While this is a good first step to activism, Greene said they believe it can also be important to embrace multiple sources. 

“[The goal is] getting people to just get out and learn from a more extended source that’s better research, rather than just what they see, because that’s not going to be very comprehensive,” Greene said.

When given the opportunity to learn more about the conflicts and happenings outside of the United States, Armas urges people to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Spreading awareness and starting conversations may cause discomfort but can be important steps in making a difference.

“[Choose] to know what’s going on. [Do] your research,” Armas said. “It’s as easy as following accounts and posting, just not staying silent about it, because we can’t let this genocide go untalked about.”

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