Listen: Berkeley students reenact encounters at Israeli checkpoints

On Wednesday, Students for Justice in Palestine along with a diverse array of organizations at the University of California at Berkeley constructed a mock Israeli wall and dramatized encounters at a mock checkpoint. The creative actions took place under the iconic Sather Gate for a few hours on campus during the middle of the day.

The actions were intended to spark discussions between students as part of Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual, global campaign to educate and mobilize the public against Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.

Students dramatized scenes from Israeli checkpoints under UC Berkeley’s iconic Sather Gate, 25 February.

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Sections of the mock wall were painted by different student and community groups and included tributes to the Black Lives Matter movement and Palestinian American community leader Rasmea Odeh.

Students dressed as Israeli soldiers stood in front of a colorful mock wall, painted by student and community groups.

Nora Barrows-Friedman

The Electronic Intifada spoke to several students and supporters who came to help set up the mock wall and checkpoint, including some who took part in a theater action to display human rights abuses at Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank. Students say that the checkpoint scenes were modeled after actual encounters filmed at Israeli checkpoints.

“We’re here on the [twenty-first] anniversary of the Hebron massacre … that led to the closing of Shuhada street in Hebron for Palestinians,” UC Berkeley graduate student and SJP member Kumars Salehi told The Electronic Intifada.

“We’re not only protesting that particular closing but also the other segregation and occupation activities of the Israeli military in the West Bank, as well as calling for the UC Regents to divest — as six of nine undergrad UC campuses, as the UC grad student union, as the UC student assembly have called for. We’re trying to make it harder for the Regents to ignore student voices,” he added. The Regents are the University of California’s governing body.

Listen to interviews with students and supporters at UC Berkeley via the media player above.

Twitter user @violentfanon posted short videos of the mock checkpoint theater actions:

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Thank you Berkeley students. These checkpoint dramatizations are so important in providing a small glimpse into the dehumanization that Palestinians are subjected to. You may be aware that just 2 years ago on the Pitzer campus during a checkpoint demonstration sponsored by SJP, students were subjected to hate speech by an Israeli professor, Yaron Raviv, from Claremont McKenna College. It sounds as though your event was free from harassment, so perhaps we're making progress. Great job keeping the pressure on the UC Regents (one of whom, as you know, is Richard Blum, Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband) to divest.

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).