On Oct. 16, thousands of protesters gathered at Copley Square in front of the Boston Public Library building to show solidarity with Palestinians, and call on the US government to stop using taxpayer money to provide military support to Israel. The event was organized jointly by the Boston Party for Socialism and Liberation, Boston University’s Students for Justice in Palestine, and the Boston South Asian Coalition, and supported by the Palestinian Youth Movement, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), MIT Coalition Against Apartheid, Pakistan Association of Greater Boston, and Wellesley Students for Justice in Palestine, according to an Instagram post from Boston PSL.
Before the march, speakers at the rally shared their experiences related to the cause. A refugee from Gaza told the crowd of over 3,000 people that she had lost 50 members of her family in just that week. Two Harvard students spoke about their experiences being doxxed and receiving threats of unemployment, but maintained that they were dedicated to speaking out for the Palestinian cause regardless of the consequences.
Many Wellesley students joined the protesters gathering at Copley Square, taking the shuttle or driving to Boston, to show their support Wendy* heard about the protest on TikTok, and drove into Boston to attend the rally, even offering to drive other students who wanted to attend.
Wendy emphasized the United States’ role in the situation in Israel and Palestine as her motivation to attend the rally.
“Everytime, I see the news, it is just devastating. The US created and has continued to support Israel as a settler-colonial state and an arm of the US empire. The US is directly responsible for the genocide occuring right now. I don’t think a lot of people are aware of that. … If you look at the history and what’s happening now, there is no way to conceptualize what Israel is doing other than genocide. There is no way for me as an American to feel comfortable with what my country is doing.”
She noted that during the march, protesters walked through the city from Copley Square to the Israeli Consulate and back to Copley Square.
Wanda, who also attended the rally, heard about the event because she had seen her friends on social media, at Wellesley and at other schools in the Boston area, reposting Boston PSL’s post on their Instagram stories.
“I honestly don’t know if protesting or raising our voices is going to change anything. [But], as a human being, I have a duty to serve and stand up for the people who have been oppressed for 75 years,” said Wanda on her reason for attending the rally.
Wanda said the rally made her optimistic. “It was fascinating. I didn’t expect that many people to come, and I didn’t expect to see so much diversity. I feel like Western media is trying to gaslight us by telling us [that] this is an issue of ‘Muslims vs. Jews’ or ‘Arabs vs. white people’ to pull us into a war that is only serving their interests.”
Another student who attended the rally on Monday, Winter, echoed the same sentiment. “I thought it was really beautiful. It’s really easy to label the pro-Palestine movement as ‘Muslim’, but we can see Jewish, Black, Latinx and White communities showing their support. We can all admit that genocide is happening and all agree that Palestinians deserve right to self-determination.”
Winter was also moved by the amount of people who showed up to the march. “People were not afraid to show support for Palestine despite all the [potential] repercussions of losing your job or people seeing you differently. You couldn’t even hear where a chant started and ended or see where the crowd started and ended. There was a sea of people,” she stated.
Wanda highlighted the importance of speaking up and educating yourself on human rights’ issues. “It is the duty of humans to understand the suffering of other humans,” she said.
“Invite your friends to learn and protest. Bring it up into your circle of friends and educate your circle of friends. The Israeli government wants us to be uncomfortable talking about this,” said Winter.
Wendy, Winter and Wanda all mentioned that they felt US media sources were biased, portraying events in Israel and Palestine inaccurately. Wanda felt strongly about social media bias, pointing out that Instagram’s translation feature had been translating the word “Palestinian” in user profiles to “terrorist.”
Since the rally on Monday, Oct.16, many Wellesley students have attended other off-campus events to show solidarity for Palestine, including rallies and vigils, at Harvard, MIT, and Northeastern. All students interviewed also felt strongly that the lack of action or statement from students on Wellesley’s campus had much to do with the College’s administration.
Wanda commented on the lack of events or discussion on Wellesley’s campus. “Wellesley is a place that is isolated from major world events. For this, I blame the College administration. … The College has not handled situation[s] in a way that can promote the freedom of speech or do anything for the students who [have been] affected. They have made it an unsafe place for students to have discussions on both sides.”
*All student names have been replaced with pseudonyms for safety purposes.