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November 26, 2019 6:55 pm

Anti-Zionist Students in Chicago ‘Honor’ Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader, Members Killed in Gaza

avatar by Shiri Moshe

SJP Chicago “die-in” rally on Nov. 20, 2019. Photo: Screenshot / SJP Chicago / Facebook.

Anti-Zionist students held a “die-in” protest in downtown Chicago last Wednesday to “honor and remember” Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who were killed during recent hostilities with Israel, including an Islamic Jihad commander and other operatives who were acknowledged by name.

The rally — organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Chicago, a city-wide network of campus activists — sought to condemn Israeli attacks on Gaza, and “honor and remember the 36 Palestinians that were killed in Gaza last week,” the group said in a social media post on Sunday.

Dozens of people were in attendance as SJP members used a megaphone to broadcast the names of Palestinians who died amid an escalation of violence with Israel, which one speaker described as “a two-day attack on the people of Gaza, killing 36 innocent Palestinians.”

The first name read, according to a video recording shared by SJP Chicago, was of Bahaa Abu al-Atta, a senior Islamic Jihad commander who was killed by a targeted Israeli strike on Nov. 12. His assassination led to an exchange of hostilities that saw more than 450 rockets and mortars fired from Gaza at Israeli communities, and dozens of Israeli attacks on Islamic Jihad targets.

Gaza health officials reported that 16 civilians were among the 34 Palestinian fatalities recorded over two days of fighting, indicating that 18 were affiliated with terrorist organizations. The Israeli military has stated that around 25 of those killed were Islamic Jihad members, and shared photos of some wearing the terrorist group’s uniforms. It also announced an investigation into a strike that killed several members of the same family, including minors.

Nearly 60 Israelis sustained injuries or received treatment for shock linked to rockets attacks from Gaza, which damaged homes, businesses, and public infrastructure.

Yet Islamic Jihad — which is blacklisted by the United States and European Union, and aims to replace Israel with an Islamist Palestinian state — was not acknowledged at the SJP die-in, which repeatedly portrayed the Palestinian casualties in the recent clashes as civilians.

The protesters — whose ranks included members of SJP at DePaul University, Benedictine University Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago — also made a point to chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a slogan that has been used by Hamas and other Palestinian nationalists to call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of Israel.

SJP Chicago’s protest bears similarities to a memorial installed at Oberlin College in Ohio on Wednesday, which sought “to commemorate the lives of these 34 Palestinians who died at the hands of Zionist Settler Colonialism.” The memorial, sponsored by Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine and Oberlin Jewish Voice for Peace, also failed to mention that many of the fatalities were members of Islamic Jihad.

A spokesperson for Oberlin has since acknowledged that the installation “offended some members of our large and diverse community,” and expressed the school’s opposition to “all forms of anti-Semitism, as we do all forms of prejudice and oppression.”

“Oberlin students, like all citizens, are entitled to their own thoughts and expressions and are individually accountable for how they engage in public discourse,” the spokesperson added. “The opinions presented by the installation were solely those of the student groups that created it and do not represent the views of Oberlin College.”

SJP Chicago did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment.

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