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Penn for Palestine puts up security fence on college green Credit: Justin Cohen , Justin Cohen

Students passing College Green yesterday found a wall that symbolized the controversial barrier along the West Bank.

Penn for Palestine and PennBDS built a six-panel “wall” display conveying information on the Israeli West Bank barrier and “the human rights realities for Palestinians and Israelis,” said College sophomore Sarah Shihadah, co-president of Penn for Palestine.

Roughly 50 feet away toward 36th Street, the pro-Israel community set up “Dialogue Tables” to offer information and their perspectives to the debate.

“We wanted to have a table to discuss why there is a wall in Israel,” said College sophomore Ilyssa Friedman, who was manning one of the tables.

Beginning at noon, PFP and PennBDS members and pro-Israel students distributed flyers to passersby and engaged in conversations with curious students, faculty and other visitors.

The purpose of the event was to encourage balanced dialogue and openness to debate about the controversial issue, Shihadah said.

“Really, we want to hear what people think,” said College sophomore Jacob Minter, a PFP member. “Sometimes we disagree with people, obviously, but it’s been civil.”

“We believe [this wall] would be a good place to start for people who are really interested in peace,” Shihadah said

The pro-Israel tables had originally been placed directly across from the wall display, but Engineering junior Naomi Hachen said her group was asked to move the tables, as PFP believed the pro-Israel presence “may have been stifling the dialogue.”

Shihadah said PFP had reserved College Green all day for the event and that the pro-Israel group was asked to leave not by members of PFP but by a representative from the Office of Student Affairs who was present at the wall display.

The group went through a rigorous process through the Office of Student Affairs and Perelman Quadrangle to receive full University recognition, she added.

“We understand their desire to have their space,” Hachen said. “Just we had wanted to engage in a more direct way.”

PFP put up the wall as part of the international Israel Apartheid Week, which PFP chooses to call “Palestine Solidarity Week.”

“At this time on this campus, we will likely reach more people and facilitate more peaceful dialogue” by renaming the week, Minter said.

While many people stopped to speak with members of PFP and pro-Israel students, others paused simply to read the wall display.

Posted on the wall were an official map of the barrier Israel is building, its projected paths, internationally accepted borders and facts about the barrier’s legality and effectiveness.

There was also a copy of a 2004 International Court of Justice ruling that declared the barrier illegal under international law.

The far-right panel was reserved for responses from the community. PFP members offered index cards in a nearby tent for anyone to post comments and questions.

However, College sophomore and Penn Friends of Israel President Noah Feit said, “I don’t think what was put up [on the wall] was sufficient. A lot of important facts were left by the wayside.”


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