The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

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The Kalamazoo Muslim community is plagued by grief following bombings in the Gaza Strip

Many Muslim families came to the protest in front of the Federal Building on Oct. 19. They held signs urging the Israeli government to stop bombing the Gaza Strip.

“There are innocent children and families that die every single day, and it’s not okay to just live your life as if nothings happening, especially if it’s not impacting you directly,” said Kalamazoo College student Mahum Khan.

On Oct. 7, 2023, the conflict between Israel and Palestine escalated when Palestinian militants from the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya), crossed the border at the Gaza Strip, killing at least 250 Israeli citizens as well as injuring over a 1 thousand more with their barrage of rockets. Since Oct. 7, over 15 hundred Israelis have been killed by airstrikes or on ground conflicts.

The death toll of Palestinians has been steadily rising since Oct. 7. According to Al Jazeera, over 10 thousand Palestinians have been killed as of Nov. 6 since Israel launched their counterattack against the Gaza Strip.

Protesters gather to listen to a series of speakers including many prominent Muslim leaders in the community, as well as concerned citizens. The downpour of rain didn’t stop the vigil hosted by the Muslim Community of Kalamazoo. (Credit: Chloe Rathbun)

“I don’t have any blood ties with Palestinians that have been killed in Gaza, but all of us Palestinians are one,” said Kalamazoo Central High School senior Khadra Jaber. “We are all family in Palestine and will continue to be that way.”

Although not living in Palestine like Jaber, many Kalamazoo residents feel a deep pain for the Palestinians killed in the recent months.

“It just hurts seeing all the children dying and it hurts paying for that hurt,” said Western Michigan University graduate Ramea Al-Mubarak.

According to Insider, “The US government has provided more aid to Israel than it has to any other foreign country since World War II.”

“I pay 30% of my salary for a government that sends it [tax money] to people that are okay with occupation and are okay with killing kids,” said Al-Mubarak.

Two people in traditional Palestinian keffiyehs wave the flag of Palestine. In the background, on the wall of the Federal Building, is a rendition of the seal of the United States. (Credit: Chloe Rathbun)

In 2023 alone, the United States Congress has allocated 3.8 billion dollars towards Israel’s military. Many Palestinians and allies are outraged by this and call on the U.S. government to rescind funding of Israel.

“America funds Israel with more than 16 million dollars and weapons each year. Israel bombs Gaza and America pays for it,” said Jaber.

Jaber moved from America back to Palestine in late 2020. She is currently enrolled in an online program at Central to allow her to live in Palestine and continue to go to American school.

Although Jaber lives in the West Bank, away from the Gaza Strip, her city still faces dangers from Israeli settlers.

“Let’s forget about Gaza,” said prominent leader in Kalamazoo’s Muslim community, Imam Hafiz Nauman. “Look at the West Bank. Settlers come and they’re armed. They harass and they start killing people in the West Bank, and Israeli military often just stand by and give them cover.”

In a press release given by the United Nations on Oct. 24, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated, “The attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum, with the Palestinian people being subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.” Guterres condemns Hamas’ attacks against the Israeli population and declares a state of humanitarian crisis for Gaza citizens.

“People are dying without food and shelter,” said Nauman. “Millions of people are being told to move from North to South and it’s a very small strip, one of the world’s most dense areas. I don’t know what’s going to be the outcome.”

In the desperation for change that many Palestinians and allies feel, there is a deep sense of grief.

“I have personally known people in Gaza who have lost their relatives. I know a family, they literally lost 17 members. Their entire family, except one little girl, got wiped out in one [air] strike, so I have been very deeply affected,” said Nauman.

The Palestinian people haven’t been the only victims of Israel’s counterbombings. Israel has gotten into several skirmishes with the Lebanese Hezbollah, coming to a head Oct. 11, when Hezbollah sent rockets into Israel. According to Reuters, Israel military forces responded by bombing South Lebanon.

“I’m an ally, but I am also Lebanese,” Kalamazoo College student Lina Mogrhabi said, her eyes filling with tears. “Lebanese villages are also getting bombed too so it’s really important to be here and spread the word.”

As said by PBS, on Oct. 27 all internet was shut down in Gaza, allegedly by Israeli military forces. Jaber stated that throughout this time period, several Palestinian Instagram accounts that were getting out crucial information regarding the attacks in Gaza went silent or were completely banned.

“I think it’s most important to speak up when it’s not impacting you because you have the ability to do something about it, you have a voice and those people don’t,” said Khan.

Sisters Mahum Khan (middle) and Anum Khan, although not Palestinian, came to the protest to boycott the Israeli military’s response to Hamas’ initial bombing. (Credit: Chloe Rathbun)

Although oftentimes this conflict is boiled down to a clash between religious values and ideologies, many Muslim’s disagree.

“In Palestine, it’s not only Muslims, it’s also Chrisitans. It’s forbidden in both religions to be against or hate other religions such as Judaism,” said Jaber. “We are against the Israeli government.”

At the protest, the gathering was led in a dua, an Islamic prayer for peace, across the war-ridden region.

Chloe Rathbun

“Today, I actually got a phone call from a Rabbi. The Rabbi himself is praying in his congregation for peace,” said Nauman. “Even though people are hurt, they have lost family members, civilians. Some of the moderate voices in the Jewish community are openly saying that this disproportionate killing has to stop.”

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Chloe Rathbun
Chloe Rathbun, Staff Writer
Especially in this day and age, truth and information freely supplied to the youth of America is crucial. We are in a unique time in history, and our news should reflect that. I love writing and editing and I'm so excited for this year in journalism.
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    KhadraNov 9, 2023 at 11:39 am

    Chloe, this article is very well written. Thanks.