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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

‘Kids in Solidarity with Kids in Palestine’ calls for ceasefire

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A child signs a large letter calling for Rep. Dwight Evans to support the Ceasefire NOW Resolution at the Kids in Solidarity with Kids in Palestine event Oct. 29. PHOTO: ALLY ENGELBERT ’25/THE HAWK

Over 150 children and their guardians gathered outside the Lovett Memorial Library in Mt. Airy Oct. 29 to write letters to Dwight Evans, U.S. representative of Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional District, asking him to sign the Ceasefire NOW Resolution, which calls for an end to violence in Gaza.

The Ceasefire NOW Resolution was introduced Oct. 16 by 13 House Democrats, asking President Joe Biden “to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine, to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza, and to save as many lives as possible.”

The letter writing event, Kids in Solidarity with Kids in Palestine, was organized by a group of parents, including Julia Allen, who said she hopes family-based events get through to people’s humanity and care for others.

“There was such terrible news coverage about what was happening, so dehumanizing of Palestinians, and I had a thought that maybe framing it around kids would be a way to cut through some of that and connect to people’s compassion,” Allen said.

Hannah Mermelstein, another organizer, said the event was also about helping kids understand the latest Israel-Hamas war and why it is important to have difficult discussions with kids.

“For a lot of us who are parents of young children, it’s important to figure out ways to be able to speak to them about what’s happening and to get them involved,” Mermelstein said.

Kids were able to fill out a letter and sign their name on a large sign, paint flags or create a banner calling for a ceasefire.

The signed letters called for Evans to support a ceasefire, followed by a place for kids to say, “This is important to me because…” Some of the responses included, “…when kids are scared, sometimes it feels like there are monsters in the house” and “…so people don’t hurt anymore.”

Hamas fighters from Gaza launched rockets and entered blockaded areas of the Gaza Strip Oct. 7. Israeli officials say Hamas killed at least 1,400 people and took over 200 hostages. Israel responded with a declaration of war, and began bombing Gaza, a piece of land approximately the same size as Philadelphia.

Israel has since cut off Gaza’s access to food, clean water, fuel and other necessities, and is restricting how much aid enters Gaza. According to the United Nations, over 7,700 Palestinians have been killed since Israel’s military assault and airstrikes began.

“Some people think that because Hamas hurt Israelis, Israel should be allowed to hurt the people in Gaza. But they forget that Israel was already hurting Palestinian people,” said Jenna, an organizer who preferred not to share her last name, in the letter-writing event’s introductory speech. “If we want to stop the violence, we need to look where it started, with Israel taking away the land and rights of Palestinian people.”

In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel occupied Palestinian territories including Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. In 2007, Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip after an armed takeover of Gaza by Hamas.

The population of Gaza is about 50% children. As of Oct. 26, over 2,700 children were among the thousands killed in Gaza, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

“Just thinking about, as a parent, what it must be like to see your kids getting killed or afraid or injured and not [having] medical supplies or food, really has been so upsetting,” Jenna said in an interview with The Hawk. “I wanted to get involved and I wanted to do something where kids could feel like they know why their parents are sad or angry.”

The letter-writing is the second event that parents and guardians have organized. The first was the Children’s Rally in Solidarity with the Children of Palestine, which took place Oct. 15.

Both events were supported by the Philadelphia chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an international Jewish anti-Zionist organization that aims to achieve a “world where all people – from the U.S. to Palestine – live in freedom, justice, equality, and dignity,” according to the JVP website.

Mel Krodman, whose child participated in the letter-writing event, said their Jewish education and morality pushes them to support Palestine as an individual and as a member of JVP.

“[The goal is] to bring about global peace by uniting people behind justice,” Krodman said. “We’re anti racist, we are liberationist and peace depends on the power of the people uniting behind vulnerable people everywhere. That’s how I interpret the mission of JVP.”

Mermelstein emphasized that it is important for Jewish people to show support for Palestine.

“Everything that Israel does, they claim to do in the name of Jewish people, so many of us say, ‘Not in our name,’” Mermelstein said. “There are a lot of people who I’ve talked to who are not Jewish, who are afraid to say anything, or even ask questions, for fear of being called antisemitic. It’s really important for those of us who are Jewish, who support Palestinian rights, to stand up and say that it is not antisemitic to support Palestine.”

It is also important to teach kids from a young age how to stand up for what they believe in, Krodman said.

“Having events that engage kids on their level and help put them in community with their own peers, engaging them in a children-oriented activism, it feels really incredible,” Krodman said.

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Ally Engelbert
Ally Engelbert, Managing Editor
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