Emory University’s Students for Socialism (SFS) organized a rally and march in support of Palestine on March 21 amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, which has now continued for 167 days. About 40 pro-Palestinian activists gathered on McDonough Plaza to listen to members of the Emory community voice their hopes for a ceasefire in Gaza. SFS also demanded that the University divest from Israel.

The group then marched from McDonough to the Quadrangle, where they staged a “die-in.” For 32 minutes, the protesters laid on the ground in front of Convocation Hall as if they were dead. Each minute represented “1,000 Palestinians murdered by Israel since October.” The group also laid out 13 baby effigies, each representing 1,000 Palestinian children who have died in the conflict.

Attendees listen to a Students For Socialism speaker at Thursday’s event. (Ivana Chen/Contributing Writer)

SFS is dedicated to “the replacement of capitalism with socialism.” This is the third pro-Palestine demonstration the club has organized, with the most recent on Feb. 29. The protesters held signs and chanted phrases such as “Gaza must have food and water, Israel stop the slaughter,” “Ceasefire is our demand, no peace on stolen land” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” has been the subject of debate, including on Emory’s campus. Hamas adopted the phrase, which the American Jewish Committee categorizes as “antisemitic” for supporting the erasure of “Israel and its people.”

Speeches at the rally focused on connections between the Israel-Hamas war and colonialism. A student speaker, who identified himself as Jewish, discussed the role of Western imperialism in “the creation of a so-called Jewish state.” 

“The struggle we see here today is not religious tension but a fight over land,” the student said. “Not only have American Jews like myself … been lied to from birth about the nature of the state which clothes itself in our culture, in our faith, but our faith itself is being exploited for imperial purposes.”

An Emory senior who requested to remain anonymous due to safety concerns said they attended the rally because they were “disappointed” in the University’s response to the “genocide” in Gaza, as well as that of administration and students. The student, who transferred to Emory from a different school, said they have seen a lot of “silence” on campus.

“We’re not seeing as much support as I feel there should be and as I’ve seen at other universities from the student bodies,” the student said. “That really motivated me.”

Around 25 counter-protesters faced the pro-Palestinian demonstrators in front of the Emory Student Center at the beginning of the rally. They held Israeli flags and sang songs. In response to the protesters’ chanting, one individual shouted that Hamas bears responsibility for the current conflict.

Counter-protestor Andrew Shulman (23C) was on campus to celebrate the annual Jewish holiday of Purim and decided to publicly support Israel after learning about the rally that morning.

“Everybody has a right to peace and self-determination, and I think that it’s a land that both groups have deep roots and deep ties to,” Shulman said. “I don’t know why there can’t be a peaceful solution without the release or without the death of one party or the other.”

Shulman said he hopes for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

“At the end of the day everybody’s fighting for the same goal of peace,” Shulman said. “But the problem is, is that not everybody wants to get there in a peaceful manner.”

+ posts
+ posts

Lauren Yee (25Ox) is a News Editor at The Emory Wheel. She is from Hong Kong, and is majoring in Religion. Outside of the Wheel, Yee serves on the boards of the Phi Gamma Literary Society and the Oxford Ensemble of Shakespearean Artists. In her free time, you can find her playing the alto saxophone, watching musicals or enjoying an iced oat milk latte!