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Spokane vigil remembers Palestinian Nakba, calls for peace in Gaza


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Spokane vigil remembers Palestinian Nakba, calls for peace in Gaza

News Story by Mia Gallegos | FāVS News

On Wednesday night, Muslims for Community, Action and Support (MCAS) along with Jewish Voice for Peace Spokane (JVP) held a Nakba Day vigil in remembrance of the Palestinian displacement that took place in 1948.

This vigil, held at Riverfront Park Clock Tower, was an opportunity to solemnly remember the 700,000 Palestinians who were forced to relocate. It also provided a moment to reflect on the current state of conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The vigil commenced with opening remarks given by Adir Blüm. He is a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace and organizer of the event. He gave a brief content warning before encouraging attendees to embrace the unpleasantness of the stories they were to hear.

“We encourage you as members of the audience to lean into discomfort and remain present whenever possible. There’s nothing safe or comforting about genocide. It is perfectly normal to feel dysregulated, and this is a safe place to feel your feelings,” Blüm said.

The catastrophe

Several speakers came to share their various experiences and reflections on the Nakba, a word that means catastrophe in Arabic.

One of these speakers was Joan Braun, a philosophy professor at Gonzaga University and a member of JVP. She explained the war that rages in the Middle East today did not recently begin.

“The present war is not grounded in age-old hatreds or religious conflicts, nor did it begin on Oct. 7. What existed before Oct. 7 was not peace but a military occupation and a state of ongoing war and terror against the Palestinian people,” Braun said. 

She went on to explain the specific implications that this conflict has had on the city of Spokane.

“Both Jews and Middle Eastern and Arab people have faced hate in the Pacific Northwest and in Spokane. Antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism continue to be serious threats to our community. I firmly believe that safety must be found through solidarity, not securitization,” Braun said.

Words from the Quran

Karen Stromgren of MCAS opened her speech with words straight from the Quran and from the prophet Muhammed.

“In the Quran, it is said, ‘whoever kills an innocent life, it is as he has killed all of humanity … ’ As Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, said ‘whoever among you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand. If he cannot, then with his tongue,’” Stromgren said. 

This call to action extended to a specific crowd: the college-aged attendees at the ceremony. Stromgren encouraged all students who may be returning to their homes following the end of the school year to keep up their activism and the hard conversations about the conflict as it persists in Gaza. These conversations, she said, are what will help fuel the change.

Elie Kornfeld, a rising junior at Gonzaga, shared a perspective that reshaped his view of the conflict in the Middle East. In a talk he witnessed between two women, one Palestinian and one Israeli, he heard an opinion that he hadn’t witnessed in previous discussions of the war.

“‘If you are pro one side, you can’t help us. You must be pro-peace,’” Kornfeld said, sharing the words spoken by one of the speakers he had witnessed. Kornfeld explained how the annulment of hate is what is required of us as overseas supporters, rather than deepening the animosity that may be felt toward one side of the conflict or the other. 

‘Stop the genocide’

The vigil organizers pressed for a narrative of peace and a call-to-action. They said events like these will likely persist until definitive action is taken by city council members and other governmental leaders.

“All of our representatives have refused to take real action to divest from Israel and to stop the genocide. We want to tell the city of Spokane that we’re not gonna stand for that,” Blüm said. 

For information about how to get involved with MCAS or JVP, visit their respective websites.

Mia Gallegos
Mia Gallegos
Mia Gallegos is a junior studying Journalism and Digital Marketing at Gonzaga University. Her love for journalism began in high school within her hometown of Broomfield, Colorado. She has written for the Gonzaga Bulletin since she first began at GU. Aside from writing, she is a passionate dancer and member of the Gonzaga University Bomb Squad, GU’s exclusively Hip-Hop dance team. Mia is a dedicated Catholic and is excited to be interning with FāVS during the Spring 2024 semester. She is looking forward to learning about religions aside from her own and to gain more journalistic prowess by working with the skilled reporters of FāVS.

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