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This week, Swarthmore’s Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine (SPJP) erected a temporary wall in front of Parrish Hall.

This week, Swarthmore’s Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine (SPJP) erected a temporary wall in front of Parrish Hall.

This week, Swarthmore’s Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine (SPJP) erected a temporary wall in front of Parrish Hall, the College’s main administrative building, to simulate a checkpoint along the wall that separates Israel from the West Bank.

SPJP members acting as Israeli Defense Force (IDF) guards have manned the checkpoint at appointed times. Their hope, members said, is to give students a taste of what Palestinians face by interrupting students’ movement, questioning them, and doing random backpack searches. 

SPJP member Razi Shaban said that punitive measures at Israeli checkpoints “breed militarism, radicalizing more than they pacify.”

SPJP member Razi Shaban said that punitive measures at Israeli checkpoints “breed militarism, radicalizing more than they pacify.”

 SPJP member Razi Shaban said the wall simulation is “a tool for Swarthmore students to learn about the [Palestinian] humanitarian crisis.” Shaban, whose father moved to the United States as a Palestinian refugee, added that punitive measures at Israeli checkpoints “breed militarism, radicalizing more than they pacify.”

The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories counts approximately 70 checkpoints both within and bordering the West Bank.

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On Friday, armed with cell phones, suggested scripts, and educational handouts, Swarthmore College’s STAND chapter hosted a call-in urging the White House to appoint a presidential envoy to peace negotiations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Despite a 2002 peace deal between the Congo and Rwandan occupying forces, civilians in the eastern part of the country are still terrorized by militias, including the anti-government M23, and the army.

While the U.N. has had a peacekeeping mission in the country since 2001, Sierra Eckert, a student leader of Swarthmore STAND, described their efforts to mediate talks between the government and rebels as “small and ineffective.” STAND, she said, advocates for the United States to send a special envoy to aid peace talks in addition to the U.N. mission.

Swarthmore STAND, a chapter of the national anti-genocide student coalition, organized the call-in to coincide with other call-ins hosted by students nationwide. The scale of such actions, Eckert said, raises awareness and puts real pressure on the White House.

In November 2011, Swarthmore STAND hosted two call-in days in support of the sanctions against Syria then being debated in U.S. Congress.

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