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The Blue & Gray Press | August 24, 2019

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New club exposes palestinian plight

New club exposes palestinian plight

Sophomore Sima Dajani’s grandparents left Palestine years ago, with the intention of going back, but were never granted the right of return.

Approximately 800,000 Palestinians like Dajani’s grandparents were expelled in the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, according to the United Nations Relief Works Agency.

Many Palestinian refugees still haven’t been allowed to return home.
Dajani, an international affairs major, was the first member of both her immediate and extended family to ever have visited Palestine. .

She spent two weeks last summer in a cultural exchange program in the West Bank.
This trip inspired her to form the new campus club Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

Dajani spent time in refugee camps and villages in the West bank, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv—a city that was once called Yafa and was once her family’s home.

“After seeing all [of] the devastation, I felt obliged to educate the UMW community about it,” she said.

SJP is an awareness club that focuses on aspects of human rights and the trials of the Palestinian people, according to Dajani. She described the Palestinian side of the story as one that is “not getting reported nearly enough in mainstream media.”

The club’s advisor, Ranjit Singh, a political science professor who specializes in Middle Eastern politics, said he feels most Americans are unaware of the degree to which the Palestinians suffer.

“When [Americans] learn of the conditions of life under military occupation–the unrelenting confiscation of land and the broader history of the conflict—[they] tend to become sympathetic towards Palestinians,” Singh said.

One of the most damaging aspects of the issue, according to Singh, is the promotion of the false idea that one must be either pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian.

“You can support the human rights, security, and advancement of Palestinians and Israelis simultaneously—it is not a zero-sum situation,” he said.

Dajani believes the problem stems from “the people not being heard.”

Giving a voice to the Palestinian people is the ultimate goal of SJP.

“[We want to] spread awareness to hopefully one day achieve everlasting peace between Palestine and Israel,” she said.

The club is in the process of obtaining approval from OSACS and is currently functioning under the Students for Educating and Empowering Diversity club (SEED).

SEED recently sponsored an event that introduced SJP to the student body. The award-winning documentary “Occupation 101: The Voice of the Silenced Majority” was shown, followed by a discussion on the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and possibilities for reaching peace.

SJP does not favor a particular solution in regards to the conflict, but Dajani stated that an effective approach would include terminating the occupation in Palestinian territories and formulating a just resolution to the Palestinian right of return and repatriation of Palestinian refugees.

“I think people underestimate the progress [that] students can make when they work together,” she said.


  1. Sima Dajani

    **Correction: References of going to “Palestine” should be changed to the Palestinian Territories or the West Bank for clarity purposes. Most of what used to be known as Palestine is refered to as Israel now except for the West Bank and Gaza.

  2. Norah

    MashAlla Sima you are such a wonderful and strong person!!!YOU are definately going to make a difference, at UMW and other places inshAlla…btw did you hear about 365am? We should show that at UMW as well.

  3. Stephen

    I hope you use this club to raise awareness about how awful HAMAS is to the Palestinian people’s cause.

    And UMW- you’re editor really should make the changes that Sima Dajani suggested. Unless journalistic integrity means nothing to UMW these days…

  4. Sheldon

    I don’t think calling it Palestine means that The Bullet lacks journalistic integrity because the club is called “Students for Justice in PALESTINE” anyways so that they means they should call the club “Students for Justice in Palestinian Territories”. Same idea!!

  5. Concerned English Major

    Stephen, FYI:

    you’re=you are

  6. Sima Dajani

    Hey, sorry for the confusion, my reference to the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank was only to clarify the context of the specific regions that I visited this past summer.
    Unquestionably, the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is historically identified as “Palestine.” In 1948, the state of Israel was established and vis-a-vis the forced exile of nearly one million Palestinians from the area that is now known as Israel. Part of our objective as SJP on campus is to spread awareness of the full history of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality, including the depopulation and destruction of over 400 villages in historical Palestine. Whether you would like to refer to this area as “Israel,” “Palestine,” “Malta,” or “Texas” is irrelevant.. At the end of the day, a people (irrespective of their national identity or any other label imputed on them by others) have been denied their inalienable rights for over 60 years.

  7. Stephen

    Concerned English Major:

    I’m glad you caught on to the joke.