California -Crowds gathered on Tuesday afternoon around Sather Gate to watch mock Israeli military checkpoint demonstration presented by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), The Daily Californian reported.
The aim of the activity, the organisers said, was aimed to illustrate Israeli-Palestinian border relations as the Israeli occupation is adopting an apartheid system dealing with the Palestinians.
SJP placed painted wooden barriers in front of Sather Gate to symbolise the Israeli Apartheid Wall the Israeli occupation erected around the occupied West Bank. The barriers were guarded by two students in faux Israeli military attire who carried cardboard cut-out guns.
The checkpoint demonstration was intended to educate Berkeley students on the “implications and realities” of Palestinian life under the Israeli occupation, according to SJP member and campus graduate student David McCleary.
“We wanted to show Berkeley students what the average Palestinian has to go through traversing these checkpoints,” McCleary said. “We are just showing all of the ways people are treated differently and treated unequally. That is the driving force of our group.”
Throughout the afternoon, SJP members acted out scenes based on video footage of checkpoint interactions, according to McCleary. As part of the demonstration, students with coloured visas engaged with the guards and tried to pass through the barriers.
According to campus graduate student and SJP member Kumars Salehi, the checkpoint event was also intended to protest UC Berkeley’s investments in companies that allegedly profit from Israeli occupation.
Salehi noted that while SJP’s efforts have been successful so far, more pressure on the UC Board of Regents is necessary to ensure divestment.
Student observers, such as campus sophomore Ismael Chamu, said they thought the visuals were helpful in understanding the issue.
This event was part of SJP’s Palestine Awareness Week, which is a week of events intended to educate students on Palestinian affairs.