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The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

Students for Justice in Palestine hold memorial for martyrs of Gaza

A student views the memorial for the marytrs of Gaza held in the Campus Center. Photo by Katrina Sanville / Editor-in-Chief.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, the UMass Boston chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine hosted a memorial to honor the over 11,000as of Nov. 10innocent civilians who died at the hand of the Israeli occupation since the attack on the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7. The event, which was held on the Campus Center Terrace from about 2:30 p.m. until 4 p.m., with prayer services following, was a chance for students and staff to speak about the Israeli occupation in Palestine and subsequent genocide, as well as to grieve if need be and inform any passing students who may not have been knowledgeable on the subject matter.

According to Al-Jazeera, an average of 15 people are killed every hour from Israeli attacks to the Gaza Strip and its surrounding areas, [1] with six of those being children. Although the Israeli occupation and oppression of Palestinians has been going on for decades, it has recently gained news coverage after the Oct. 7 attack by Palestinian group Hamas that has resulted in over a month of continuous air strikes and land attacks.

Throughout the memorial, several students and staff members stood up and shared a few words about their own experiences with Palestine, their families and the active genocide, as well as some words about how the rallying inspires hope in them toward Palestinian liberation. Although the students have opted to remain anonymous for their own safety, two faculty members also spoke and were able to provide insight on their involvement in the event and quotes from their speeches.

Dr. Dana Miranda, an assistant professor of Philosophy and faculty fellow for the Applied Ethics Center, spoke at the memorial surrounding the intersection between Black radical tradition of M. NourbeSe Philip and the lives of Palestinians.

Within his speech, Dr. Miranda stated, “We are surrounded by those who have come together not only to ‘remember the dead,’ but to fight for the living. We are not isolated or powerless, but a community whose voices grow louder and stronger when in chorus. It is with this voice that we say no to genocide. Let this be our line in the sand. Let this be our paean. And as allies we must remain adamant and steadfast for Palestinians (who) even in the face of death have not stopped struggling for their freedom in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem as well as within the diaspora.”

When asked about his own involvement, Miranda stated that he was a member of the UMass Boston Faculty/Staff for Justice in Palestine, but found out about the memorial through not only the UMass Boston SJP Facebook page but through direct contact with current members of SJP. American Studies professor Jeffrey Melnick also spoke at the event, and stated that he had planned to be at this event and agreed to be a speaker following some scheduling conflicts. Melnick, like Miranda, is involved with the Faculty/Staff for Justice in Palestine group and also just finished a term as the vice president for the Faculty Staff Union, where he continues to serve as member.

When coming to speak, Melnick approached his speech from his three most important identity politics, those being an anti-Zionist Jew, a teacher and a dad. He noted on the identities of being Jewish, “There is a huge, organized effort by the Zionist lobby—including the ADL and other groups—to pretend that people like me don’t exist or are not ‘real Jews.’ But we are, and we have a special responsibility in this horrifying moment to use our relative privilege to call out the atrocities being committed in our name by the Israeli military against innocent Palestinian civilians. And that this responsibility is literally rooted in Jewish religious and social tradition.”

On the other two identities, Melnick pointed out the need that teachers have to protect their students who may be getting doxed, arrested or delegitimized for protesting and using their right of free expression in response to the war on Gaza. He also stated that the propaganda attempts to lump the Palestinians together as a faceless mass, but as a father—which Melnick states is the most important thing in his life—it is hard for Melnick to ignore the parents pulling their children from the rubble and soothing them.

“We need to learn and say the names of the living and the dead so that they will not remain anonymous and they will be granted the full humanity they deserve,” Melnick stated in an email.

When asked about deconstructing Zionist propaganda, either presently or in the past, Melnick also stated in an email, “All I can do is speak my truth—as I did yesterday and as I try to do on social media (Twitter only for me). Also I try to contribute to bail funds for people who get arrested at protests and go myself to as many rallies, marches and so on as I can in Cambridge and Boston.”

Despite there being a large and looming police presence at the event, which could be unsettling for most and nerve-wracking for some, the members of SJP reassured that the UMass Boston police were at the memorial as a means of protecting against counter-protestors throughout the memorial.

Although the members of SJP have opted to remain anonymous, they said that they received a direct message on Instagram that there was an article in the Boston Herald, and there would be counter-protestors at other schools in Boston hosting their own memorials the same day.

“We aren’t backing down,” one member said. “We’re aware of Zionist tactics and how they include psychological manipulation, and we’re ready for that.”

Toward the end of the ceremony, one of the members of SJP spoke about keffiyeh Thursdays, a sign of solidarity created by students at Harvard back in February 2022. The keffiyeh is not an accessory, the member pointed out, but a sign of solidarity. UMass Boston’s chapter of SJP used to post regularly about keffiyeh Thursdays, but due to the current situation, have opted to private their posts. They still support the notion, and encourage all those involved at UMass Boston to participate.

Although UMass Boston’s chapter of SJP will be taking a break for leadership organization, they still encourage students looking involved to check out events being hosted by other organizations in the area. The organization will continuously post events on their Instagram to keep their followers informed, but they also stated that there would be a public meeting Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. at North Andover High School voting on a proposal to raise the Palestinian flag above the school [2].

In addition, Miranda provided some resources for students looking to gain a bit more insight, such as online resources like Decolonize Palestine and Teach Palestine, and Boston-based resources like the Boston chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestinian Youth Movement, BDS Boston and IfNotNow, as well as UMass Boston’s chapter of SJP once it returns from its hiatus. Miranda also highlighted the importance of centering and learning from Palestinians when it comes to this, as no people would know the Israeli colonialism and occupation better, as well as what would be best for the people in the United States to do.

“We’re feeling pretty good after the memorial, all things considered,” said the organizers of the event and members of SJP when asked how they were feeling following the event. “We’re feeling moved and hopeful, and definitely shed a tear or two. We’re really proud.”


[1] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/longform/2023/10/9/israel-hamas-war-in-maps-and-charts-live-tracker

[2] https://www.wcvb.com/article/resident-files-permit-to-raise-palestinian-flag-at-north-andover-town-common/45750034#


About the Contributor
Katrina Sanville, Editor-In-Chief