We look at student protests nationwide calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, including 41 students at Brown University arrested Monday at a sit-in demanding the school divest its endowment from weapons manufacturers like Raytheon and United Technologies, and a weeklong sit-in at Haverford College. One of the students who joined the protest has just returned to campus: Kinnan Abdalhamid, a junior who was shot two weeks ago along with his two friends, who are also of Palestinian descent, by a white man in Burlington, Vermont. We speak with Abdalhamid and Ellie Baron, an organizer with Students for Peace at Haverford College who is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. “It’s very heartwarming to see a collective body of students stand against a blatant genocide of my people,” says Abdalhamid about support for Palestine at Haverford and other schools.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
We look now at student protests calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. In one of many actions nationwide, 41 students at Brown University were arrested Monday at a sit-in demanding the school divest its endowment from weapons manufacturers like Raytheon and United Technologies. The school charged the students with willful trespass within school buildings. Meanwhile, students at Haverford College just ended a peaceful weeklong sit-in yesterday of the school’s administrative offices.
PROTESTERS: Hey hey, ho ho! Militarism has got to go! Hey hey, ho ho! Militarism has got to go!
AMY GOODMAN: Some 100 Haverford students now face the threat of disciplinary action. One of the students who joined the protest has just returned to campus. Kinnan Abdalhamid is a junior at Haverford who was shot two weeks ago, along with his two friends, by a white man in Burlington, Vermont. All three are of Palestinian descent. Tahseen Ahmed was shot in the chest, and Hisham Awartani was paralyzed from the chest down after a bullet lodged in his spinal cord. He is a student at Brown University. The three grew up and went to school together in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
We are joined by Kinnan Abdalhamid at Haverford College and by his fellow student Ellie Baron, a Haverford College junior and organizer with Students for Peace who participated in the sit-in. She’s granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Kinnan, thank you so much for being with us. What you and your two close friends went through — I mean, you grew up in Ramallah, went to the Friends School there, visiting together at Thanksgiving Hisham’s grandmother and uncle. Tell us what happened then. And thank goodness you’re able to go back to school, having been shot yourself. But then talk about what you’re calling for. Why were you just walking? What? You had just — were going to dinner at Hisham’s family’s house?
KINNAN ABDALHAMID: We were originally going to go straight to dinner at Hisham’s family house, but before going in, we usually decide to go on a walk. And on the walk back, when we were going to have that delayed dinner, I guess, yeah, that’s when we saw.
AMY GOODMAN: And what did you see? What happened? Explain what happened to the three of you.
KINNAN ABDALHAMID: Well, he was standing on the porch of the house, and he turned around and saw us, immediately ran down the steps of the porch, pulled out a pistol and started shooting. Tahseen was the first to be wounded, then Hisham. And during that time, I was able to run, but he seems to have hit me while I was running.
AMY GOODMAN: And what is the latest? We talked to Hisham’s mother, someone you know well, Elizabeth Price, who had flown in to be with her son. At the time we talked, it looked like he would be paralyzed from the chest down. Do you have any latest information? He’s in rehab now?
KINNAN ABDALHAMID: I’m not willing to speak on his condition now. That’s him and his family’s decision.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about you coming back to Haverford and what that’s meant and the level of activism. And we see now at Brown, where Hisham went to school — where he goes to school, 41 students have been arrested. Talk about what’s happening at Haverford.
KINNAN ABDALHAMID: Yes. What’s happening in Haverford, the student activism has been absolutely astounding and amazing. It’s very heartwarming to see a collective body of students stand against a blatant genocide of my people, and the humanity in that, as well as — I wouldn’t like to distinguish it being only students. There are different faculty members here that are, in fact, at least pro-Palestinian when it comes to this case. It’s overwhelming to see the humanity. I’m very happy it happened. And hopefully, sometime different people with different platforms will call for a ceasefire.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Ellie Baron into the conversation. You’re a Haverford junior, granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. Talk about what you’re demanding at Haverford. You all just finished occupying the admin offices, threatened with arrest yesterday. Is that right?
ELLIE BARON: So, we occupied Founders Hall, which is the main administrative building. And if we didn’t leave by yesterday morning, we were threatened with a dean’s panel, which could include expulsion. We have been calling for a ceasefire, for specifically Haverford College President Wendy Raymond to release a public statement in support of a ceasefire. And this has precedent at Haverford College. President John Coleman in 1969 wrote a letter to President Nixon and galvanized the signatures of 79 other college presidents, demanding that President Nixon oppose the Vietnam War. And so we’re demanding that President Raymond follow in his footsteps in this tradition of activism and using leadership in order to create change in the world, which is very much in line with our Quaker values, and call for a ceasefire and call for our elected officials to support peace in Palestine.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the accusations that when you call for ceasefire now, when you hold a Palestinian flag, when you wear a keffiyeh, that you’re expressing antisemitism? Talk about your own family history and how you came to the views you have, Ellie.
ELLIE BARON: Absolutely. So, antisemitism has been something that’s weaponized. We have seen accusations of antisemitism on our campus that have delegitimatized Palestinian organizing. And I, frankly, find accusations of antisemitism to be horrific, considering what my family went through in the Holocaust. There is real antisemitism out there. There are real threats to Jewish people. These threats have been experienced by my family. So many members of my family died in the Holocaust. And it’s absolutely horrifying that claims of antisemitism are being attributed to criticism of Israel. And that just delegitimatizes antisemitism and — sorry, that delegitimatizes actual threats to Jewish people and actual antisemitism in this world.
AMY GOODMAN: So, today a rally is being held as we speak at Haverford?
ELLIE BARON: So, the rally was yesterday. And we had the rally to conclude our sit-in in the administrative building. And although the sit-in is over, the calls for Haverford College and so many other higher education institutions to take action and to leverage their power for change in the world and in order to have a ceasefire have not ended. So, just because the sit-in has ended, hundreds of students yesterday at the rally called for Haverford College to create change and to call for a ceasefire and leverage their power.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Kinnan, you started by talking about how moved you are by the Haverford protests. You’ve got the last word right now. What you want to see happen at Haverford? You also just spoke at Bryn Mawr, didn’t you? Another college nearby.
KINNAN ABDALHAMID: Yeah. This college is part of a system, Bi-Co, so Bryn Mawr and Haverford are quite linked together.
If there was a final message I’d like to say, it’s to kind of, I’d say, dismantle this “we know better” mentality with a lot of people I’ve interacted with. It’s important for both sides to have an open mind and to engage with students and faculty, to have pro-Palestinian views as just like other people. They’re not misinformed. They know what they’re talking about. Palestinians, in their own rights, a lot of them that were raised in Palestine, are experts about the history, the atrocities they’ve endured and seen in their lifetime, and what has led up to the events of October 7th. It’s important to underscore that. A lot of people that were born and raised here, God bless them, simply don’t know as much and should engage with an open mind and learn more, before stifling discourse regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict, especially Palestinians who are out crying for a ceasefire, who are generally witnessing their people being exterminated.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for doing this interview with us, Kinnan Abdalhamid, again, shot Thanksgiving weekend with his two friends, Tahseen and Hisham Awartani, who at this point is paralyzed from the chest down. You can go to democracynow.org and see our interview with Elizabeth Price, Hisham’s mother. And I also want to thank Ellie Baron, a junior at Haverford involved with calling for a ceasefire.
That does it for our show. Democracy Now! is produced with Mike Burke, Renée Feltz, Deena Guzder, Messiah Rhodes, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud, Sonyi Lopez. Our executive director is Julie Crosby. Special thanks to Becca Staley, Jon Randolph, Paul Powell, Mike Di Filippo, Miguel Nogueira. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.