“It’s not about religion, it’s about humanity,” read a poster held up by a student at the Science Center Plaza Monday. The student was one of fifteen or so participants in Monday’s “dead-in,” an event hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Committee to raise awareness of the roughly 2,100 people who were killed in Gaza this summer.
Members of the PSC encircled Halah Y. Ahmad ’17, as she read the names and ages of the men, women and children who died in Israeli-Palestinian crossfire. As Ahmad continued to read the names, a few participants assumed “dead” positions on the ground.
“Two thousand one hundred people were killed in Gaza this summer. Today, we remember their names and their broken families,” Ahmad said, as onlookers took pictures of the students and their posters. Ahmad repeated these sentences several times throughout the event.
At several points during the reading, names of individuals from the same family were read. As their names were spoken, more PSC members dropped to the ground. Some Gaza victims were toddlers, Committee members said, while others were close to eighty years old.
Aside from small shifts of their feet and hands, the students lay still on the plaza. When bottles of water were placed by their feet, no one took a sip.
“I was very moved by the fact that it was peaceful, civil and informative,” said Director of the Harvard Foundation S. Allen Counter, who looked on.
PSC leaders said they planned the event to promote open conversation about the people who were killed throughout the summer. Members of the Progressive Jewish Alliance and Student Labor Action Movement also participated in the “dead-in.”
“Throughout the summer, there was solidarity throughout the world,” PSC co-Chair Fatima M. Bishtawi ’17 said. “We didn’t want to lose that momentum.”
After more than an hour of reading, a student with an “I stand with Gaza” poster was the only one left standing while Ahmad continued to read names through her megaphone. On the sign’s white background was an image of a dove clutching an olive branch.
“It was very moving to hear the names read thoughtfully one by one,” Professor of Comparative Religion and Lowell House Co-Master Diana L. Eck said. “It was a very important event, and I was happy to be here for each and every name.”
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