‘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

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