“FREE PALESTINE”: Students rally and stand for Palestine

Minnesota State students and faculty — and representatives from the Kessel Peace Institute — gathered in front of the Memorial Library and in the Centennial Student Union Friday to rally for Palestinians who are at war with Israel. 

Students held posters, wore Palestinian flags and told their stories while others shared words of support and encouragement. Shawarmania owner Ahmad Kiblawi heard about the rally over text and wanted to come out to show his support as a Palestinian. The last few weeks have been difficult for him as he hasn’t heard from some family members.  

“We have family that live in areas that could be damaged. I have a brother-in-law and family in Gaza and we lost contact with them because there’s no internet. Not knowing what’s going on with your family is a little bit more scary than what you see on TV,” Kiblawi said. 

His mother even encouraged him to not leave the house. 

“She said, ‘Don’t go out. What if someone hates on you or tries to attack you just because you’re Palestinian,’ but it’s a matter of telling the truth,” Kiblawi said. “I encourage everybody to go out and do peaceful protests, or rally just to give awareness.”

Freshman and Palestinian Salem Abuatiya have had similar thoughts. Although his family lives in America, he said it’s been hard for him to focus on schoolwork the last few weeks as he’s been thinking about his village.

“’I’ve been seeing news 24/7. I’ve been on my phone all the time in class, not focusing on my assignments, and thinking just about ‘What if my village gets attacked tonight? Will they get to our house today?’” Abuatiya said. 

Senior and Palestinian Abdalrahman Alghalayind said he’s been frustrated and hurt by how Palestinians and Palestine have been portrayed.

“We don’t have the Western media support. We don’t have any type of support. We’re just being dehumanized and we tried to tell people that this is not how it works,” Alghalayind said. 

Since the war began, some media outlets have been biased towards certain sides. Kiblawi said he feels like the media uses the same scripts over and over. 

“I’ve been watching a lot of videos, interviews between the ambassador of Palestine or other Palestinians and they always have the same question, asking them about only Hamas,” Kiblawi said. “I have to go out there and find the truth for myself.”

Alghalayind said Western media has been lying about certain information regarding horrific events.

“They lied about 14 babies getting beheaded, which hasn’t happened, but on X and Instagram, we’ve seen Palestinian children getting murdered by Israeli rockets. This is where the misinformation happens and it’s horrendous,” Alghalayind said.

Abuatiya said A.I. technology has helped spread misinformation and generated false photos about the war.

“I saw an image of beheaded kids that was made by A.I. If you want to cover news, don’t make it so that emotion controls you,” Abuatiya said. 

Senior Majd Alharbi was there to be the voice for Palestinians who haven’t been able to share their voices. She said one of the issues the media hasn’t addressed is what has been going on in Palestine, choosing to focus more on Israel.

“The only thing they covered was the last events that happened in Israel. I really do mourn the lives that were lost in Israel as well, but the news is not talking about what’s happening in Palestine for the past decade and a half,” Alharbi said. “It’s time to listen to the other side.”

Kiblawi said Palestinians are everywhere and to let them speak about their home.

“If someone wants to talk about Palestine, history and everything, let them do it because that’s freedom,” Kiblawi said. “Let us speak to who we are.”

Abuatiya said listening to stories, having students open their eyes to what’s going on and educating themselves on the history of Israel and Palestine are a few ways to show support.

“Help them emotionally, by your words and by telling people about their suffering,” Abuatiya said. 

Communication and Media Professor Jim Dimock helped throw the rally together to help elevate students’ voices. 

“Those of us who are university professors who have a lot of freedom of speech, we have the capacity and resources to create a space where students can speak for themselves and that’s what I wanted to do,” Dimock said.

Dimock said he wishes more faculty and administrators who have tenure and protection would have attended the rally to show support. 

“When I talk to students in small groups and to some of my faculty members, especially faculty members who are Muslim or Middle Eastern, they’re afraid of being deported. There are a lot of students who are wearing face masks. It’s because they don’t want to be seen as being pro-violence, which is just absolutely untrue,” Dimock said. “To me, that’s what Diversity, Equity and Inclusion look like.”

Besides letting Palestinians share their stories of what’s going on, Kiblawi said to stop supporting businesses that have given donations to Israel. 

“(Big U.S. companies) sent money over just to support a military attack. They just made it worse,” Kiblawi said. “Boycott the places that support Israel.” 

Alharbi said students read as much as they can about the history between Israel and Palestine and share accurate information online. 

“Posting it on social media definitely helps,” Alharbi said. 

Dimock said students should be calling representatives and senators to advocate for Palestine.

“They’re incredibly accessible and they’re responsive. They should also be calling people like President Inch and Chancellor Olson and say they want to exercise their free speech rights,” Dimock said. 

Grad student Grisha Mainali said that, while not Palestinian, she is a human being who feels for them.

“Let’s not forget that we are human beings and there are people from both sides who are suffering from this,” Mainali said. “Let’s try to be human and understand the pain of others.”

Header Photo: Minnesota State, Mankato’s  faculty and staff gathered in front of the Memorial Library and the Centennial Student Union to rally and bring awareness for Palestinians who are at war with Israel. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Emma Johnson at

One thought on ““FREE PALESTINE”: Students rally and stand for Palestine

  • danielsebold

    Joe Biden is the American left. Just ask Noam Chomsky: vote for Joe Biden to save us from Armageddon. Chomsky can’t see the endless wars for the lower classes because he was never poor, the same poor that can no longer afford the tuition at our state schools which were originally designed to help the poor. Woke issues are the luxury of the upper classes. The poor in America have no health care. They can’t afford gender affirming health care for their children. The TAs and adjuncts at MSU have no health care.

    The woke on the “leftist” Majority Report support the Stepan Bandera crowd. They support unwittingly the genocide in Ukraine of fourteen thousand of the working class Russian Ukrainian minority population of the Donbas between 2014 and 2022 that have been living there for generations. I have blogged with the Ämerican “left” on this site. They think they are supporting democracy in Ukraine by supporting the unwitting slaughter of the poor in this war, and when you ask them why they are supporting the Azov Banderites in Ukraine, they have never heard of them. They will tell you these Nazi don’t exist. Or they are nicer, fewer Nazis, not like the other Nazis. The left in the USA is a dark comedy.

    Bandera is the national hero of Ukraine. They celebrate his birthday in Ukraine, a man who supported Hitler at Babi Yar, a man who ethnically cleansed over two hundred thousand Poles in northwestern Ukraine which is still Polish and still a target to this day.

    In 2010 the Ukrainians awarded Stepan Bandera the Hero Medal of Ukraine because he was still so beloved. They have Stepan Bandera Boulevard in Kiev and streets all over Nazi Ukraine named after him. They know who he is. Elinsky’s guards ironically used to wear Nazi patches on their shoulders to the dismay of the few in the Biden Administration who knew what they were.

    The American left is living a dark comic fascism. Keep supporting the American left. Support Joe Biden. Support the coming slow genocide in Palestine. Support the American illegal occupation in Syria. Listen to the Americans complain on CNN about being attacked in Syria while they steal Syria’s oil and wheat so the Syrians go malnourished. The UN pretends it is not happening.

    Support Joe Biden. Support genocide. Support the destruction of Syria’s art treasures and ancient Roman temples across the country, Roman and Byzantine cities that I photographed back in 2005 during Ramadan that are now gone: Palmyra, Aphemia, Saint Simion and the Shiite mosques of Raqqa. Support the coming war that will purge Syria’s socialist Alawite Shiite minority and Lebanon’s Roman and Byzantine sites and Shiite mosques and the socialist Shiites in Baalbek.

    Support the coming genocide in Gaza. It will be a slow one, not a fast one like in Ukraine.

    Daniel Sebold
    91 Gulf War vet, former US Navy Arabic linguist
    MSU English/Spanish alumnus


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