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Dawson Students’ Experiences in the Current Palestine-Israel Crisis

Updated: Jun 12

Angélique Babineau

Managing Editor

The Plant conducted four interviews in an attempt to better understand how the Dawson community has been affected by the recent events in Israel and Palestine. A list of identical interview questions was provided to each interviewee, although not all of their answers could be included in this article. All four interviewees have chosen to remain anonymous for safety reasons. It is also important to note that, although these thoughts, experiences, and feelings might be shared amongst people of certain communities, in no way, shape, or form do these interviewees nor The Plant wish or aim to speak for an entire group of people.

Palestinian student

How are you feeling in a few words?

“I have family in Palestine and I have family in Lebanon, in Syria and in Jordan as well because, you know, Palestinians were displaced. Even Palestinians that aren’t currently connected with their family back home are still affected by the situation. Some people don't understand why someone would be affected if they don't have immediate family there, but that's not the context. We are a community that is connected by our constant struggle and ancestral land.”

“Honestly, I have no idea what I'm feeling. At the beginning it felt shocking, it felt unreal and now I'm just numb, confused, and, honestly, so tired of my people not being heard.”

Has your experience at Dawson - or in general - changed since October 7th?

A lot of people were anxious about going to school in general because, right now, anti-Palestinian discrimination is very high. The week that everything happened so many people experienced racism, including me. Disgusting things being said to you, getting these disgusted looks when you're wearing a keffiyeh to show solidarity, all of that.”

Do you think the media is biased?

“Absolutely. For example, when the media said that [Hamas] beheaded a pregnant Israeli woman and then beheaded her newborn baby. What is sad is that it is true; true as in the evidence was about the Sabra and Shatila Massacre. It was actually an IDF soldier that did that to a Palestinian woman in Lebanon [in 1982]. When [the media] realized that, they removed it, but never talked about it again. People didn’t care after they found out that it was a Palestinian woman. That alone shows that it doesn't matter what happens, [who dies], as long as it's Palestinians."

How informed are you on the current situation? Would you say you have a bias?

“I don't think I have biases in the situation. With a situation like this, it's very easy to see who is actually the oppressor. This isn't about perspectives. This is colonization and genocide and you cannot just pick sides because you feel like it or because you're not educated enough about the subject; this is real life. This is going to be played as one of the darkest moments in history. Almost 10,000 people have died in the past weeks. That's a massacre, that's genocide. And this is only in the past weeks. The only difference is people right now think that the ‘war’ just started, but it’s been ongoing for 75 years and it's not a war; that's the most important thing.”

What are the most efficient ways for students to help? 

“I don't think [students] know how powerful their stances are. For example, for South Africa when they did the BDS [Boycott, Divest, Sanctions] in Canada, students actually played a huge role in it. [...] When we protest for example, we put a lot of pressure on the government to the point where Justin Trudeau started to change some of the terminology he was using before.”  

Jewish student

How are you feeling in a few words? 

It's been very hard to reconcile with my identity as a Jewish person because I feel like, especially in this day and age, you are only a good Jewish person you believe X. That goes both ways; pro-Israel people will say, ‘if you're not pro-Israel you're not Jewish; Israel is our home land so you have to believe in that’ and then pro-Palestine people will say that Jewish voices matter when they're pro-Palestine, so it's just very difficult to be Jewish and to also have this political stance.”

“The issue of antisemitism is not the issue of pro-Israel or not.”

What did you think about the statement issued by Dawson?

“I found it to be lacking; I think that it could’ve gone more in depth. They didn't even name the issue; it felt like they basically have a template for difficult political issues. It was just far too vague to even do anything. [...] I know that a lot of people in my community and a lot of people in the Palestinian community felt unsafe coming to school.” 

How informed are you on the current situation? Would you say you have a bias?

I definitely have a bias. I went to a Jewish school and at a Jewish school, you're really taught to appreciate and value Israel. From a young age, you have Israel Day, you have students from Israel come to talk to you about how great [Israel] is, you memorize the map of Israel. It's ingrained in that culture so I grew up really thinking that Zionism was a really positive word and that Israel is a great thing. I had no idea about the land conflicts. My mind was still malleable back then, so I definitely internalized that bias.”

“Despite having that bias, I think it’s valuable to understand Israel the way I have been taught. A driving force to why the state was created was because of how horrifying the Holocaust was.”


Jewish student

Have you or your family/loved ones been directly affected by the current situation?

“I've always kept myself informed because, even though I'm not personally that attached to Israel,  it’s still a country that tries to represent my religion in some ways.”

“I think it's really difficult to not be biased for any Jewish person because there's so much history that comes with Israel and like a lot of people have family there.”

“It’s really really difficult not to fall for the propaganda Israel releases because a part of you wants to believe that Israel’s not a bad place. But I also have a lot of friends who are aware that Israel doesn't represent the Jewish community and that the actions of the government aren't a reflection of Jewish values in any way.”

How are you feeling in a few words? 

“It's frustrating because I'll see people I thought I knew pretty well supporting Israel and I'll just be like, ‘how is it even possible to believe that what they're doing is okay?’”

“A lot of it comes from the Internet being an echo chamber; whatever you believe will be reflected back to you, validated by the content that's given to you. It's also just a reflection of how society works; this is not the first time that stuff like this has happened and that people are completely blind to the reality. I know a lot of my Jewish friends have deleted social media because, if you follow a lot of Jewish people, you'll see a lot of Israeli propaganda. They want to avoid seeing that because it's really hard to watch.”

“At the same time, I came to the realization that the fear I have to live through is nothing compared to the harm that's being done to Gaza and the people there.”

Has your experience at Dawson (or in general) changed since October 7th? 

“I was very very scared that I would face anti-semitism, but I'm not someone who people know is Jewish unless they're my friends.”

“I have stopped wearing any signs of religion. I have earrings that are [in the shape of the] Star of David that I used to wear all the time. Unfortunately, Israel's flag is a Star of David and I don't want people to misinterpret it, but also just as a sign of respect for Palestinian people. It’s [unfortunate] because it's my religion, I'm proud of it and I love it, but I don't want to show any sign that could be misinterpreted as supporting Israel.”

What are some important misconceptions about the situation that you wish to clear up?

“I think it's very important to realize that the actions of the Israeli government do not reflect Jewish people. It's also important to realize that we need to condemn the Israeli government no matter where you live or what country you identify with. It's so important to stay critical of governments and higher powers because, in the end, if we let governments control the narrative, if we don't question anything, then we let go of our power as a population. Even if you want to believe that Israel represents a part of your community, it's so important to stay critical of and to try to have an objective view on the events.”

A Muslim student 

How are you feeling in a few words?

“I do feel a lot more self-conscious, not just at school, but in the metro and at work. People have stared at me and I've definitely felt more like judgment than before. I don't think personally I faced that much Islamophobia in my life, but nowadays, I can feel people staring at me.” 

Why do you think so many people revert to hate?

“I feel like because it's the only thing they know. If the military and the governments use hate to get their words across, then the people will learn [...] to use hate.”

“There is hate targeted to Jewish people right now and that shouldn’t be dismissed, but the pain that the Palestinians are going through should be the focus because they are the ones going through a genocide.”

How informed are you on the current situation? Would you say you have a bias?

“I'm Muslim, so some people might think that I have a bias, but I just think that, as a human, it's easy to see the facts. I feel that anyone who can see the [situation] as it is [...] would come to the same conclusion as me. Maybe I think about it more because I am Muslim, but I don't think my pain is biased.”

Do you think the media is biased?

“The media is obviously biased. I don't think conflict is a word anyone should be using for this. Using the word conflict, war, ‘murdered’ [for Israelis] and ‘died’ for Palestinians, it does matter a lot because that's how someone who is not that educated [will] learn to [view it]. The word conflict minimizes the situation so much; it's so much bigger than that.”

What are some important misconceptions about the situation that you wish to clear up?

“The people who want justice for Jewish people [should] also be the ones wanting justice for Palestine. We are preaching the same thing and [that is] for no innocent person to die.”

“I just don't understand how humanity is still so [horrible]; I thought we were in 2023.  Everyone's always talking about justice and peace for so many things, but why not about this?”



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