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KAMP Interview Series 2023: Ayah Sadideen

Interviewer: Peyton Riegel

Interviewee: Ayah Sadideen

Date Interviewed: April 3, 2023

Edited By: Liam Larkin-Smith

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Thank you for supporting the KAMP Interview Series 2023. To listen to this interview or watch it in full please explore the links above. All interviews take place live on air every Monday from 5-6 pm. Click the streaming link in the top right corner in order to tune in online or tune in on 1570 AM radio every Monday from 5-6 pm.

Peyton: Hello, everyone. Welcome to KAMP Student Radio. My name is Peyton, and this is the KAMP News Interview series hour. We have a very special guest today. Special guest. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Ayah: Yes. Hi. My name is Ayah Sadideen. I'm the vice president of Students for Justice in Palestine, also known as SJP.

Peyton: Very amazing. And then just to cover some ground: pronouns?

Ayah: Yeah. So my pronouns are she, he, they okay. Yeah.

Peyton: Okay, just. For future reference. Okay, so we're just going to kick off the interview and get right into it. So what kind of programs do you and your organization do on campus?

Ayah: So we do a lot of workshops besides our general meetings. So a lot of what we do is just trying to really put this idea of what Palestine is and the difference between Israel and occupied Palestine and then just doing a lot of work around that that goes into, like I said, doing workshops where we have some of our members actually do some stuff. So we just had a workshop talking about Palestinian resistance and Palestinian portrayal in the media. Yeah. So we just do a bunch of kind of redoing the narrative of what's already there.

Peyton: No, definitely. Do you guys do any work off campus as well?

Ayah: So, currently we're trying to organize with an organization in Tucson called Mass Lib, Arizona. And so that's kind of just like in the works. We are trying to do more with like, community, but as of right now we're really focusing on students and student interaction and stuff like that, just because there is a lot of misconceptions on occupied Palestine and Palestine itself.

Peyton: So do you guys do a lot of collaboration with other organizations on campus specifically, or are you guys more your own entity?

Ayah: So, yeah, we love to focus on doing stuff with other student organizations. So we work really closely with the LGBTQ resource center as well as the women's gender resource center. We love to show intersections between different societal issues. And so we do a lot of one of our workshops. We talk about Black Lives Matter movement and then Palestine and how you can't really have liberation if not everyone's liberated. So, yeah, we do a lot of work.

Peyton: Very amazing and lovely. Oh, my goodness. So I guess that the semester is kind of sort of wrapping up, but what were some of the goals that you guys had set out at the beginning of the year, and do you feel that you've achieved those goals thus far?

Ayah: So though it is the end of the year or the end of the semester, we do have something in the books for late April talking about apartheid and stuff. So we'll be having a bunch of different, it'll be kind of like an apartheid week. So we'll be talking about, we have a really popular workshop called Palestine 101, which is open to students and community members, staff and faculty to come learn about everything and anything Palestine and kind of the history and just doing a bunch of things throughout that week. But honestly, we've really set up on trying to get some more students involved and kind of grow SJP just because we were inactive for a few years. And then our president, Baya got it back up and running and everything. So we've just been really trying to get some new students, which we have gotten some new members, which has been really nice.

Peyton: So how are new students able to join or find out about when the club meets? What are some good resources to get on that?

Ayah: Yeah, so if you look us up Students for Justice in Palestine in campus groups, you'll be able to find us and apply or sign up to be a member. And then we do have an Instagram, I believe it's Arizona SJP, but if you look up SJP, it should be the first one to pop up either that one or ASU, but you'll still be able to find us through ASU.

Peyton: Okay, cool. So then is this organization something that transcends, like, universities? It's like one parent organization.

Ayah: Yeah. So it's a national and Canadian organization. So there's a bunch of chapters all over the United States and in Canada and some other parts of the world, but the United States definitely has the most chapters. So yeah, we try to work really closely with ASU, Ohio State, just because they have a lot of groundwork already done and they've been around for a really long time at this point. So we like to get in contact with our contacts over there and we want to actually have some of them come in or do a zoom and just kind of tell us what they've been doing and stuff like that, just to get an idea for members to get involved and actually take on some stuff as well.

Peyton: The greater issues. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Do you find because the organization, obviously, that you're talking right now is like university based, as people graduate college and then go into the professional world, are there organizations like akin to SJP in the professional setting?

Ayah: I wouldn't know too much about that just because in the professional world, you're not really supposed to talk about Palestine. So it is kind of for a lot of especially like, Palestinians who own jobs and have jobs in America, a lot of the times, if you say that you're Palestinian or you're involved with anything Palestine liberation related, you are at a very high risk of losing your jobs or being censored. But a lot of like, Alumni and whatever there, and students or staff and faculty are involved with SJP, we're the closest one to them. So I know that ASU, there are some supporting people and community members that they can't really do too much, so they get involved via SJP, which is really nice.

Peyton: Oh, that's kind of like heartbreaking.

Ayah: Yeah, it's a little bittersweet for sure, but it does kind of help us grow our relationship with the community, even though at that point we have to, it's still like it's a place for them.

Peyton: And then I guess on the other end of that spectrum, well, I mean, public education is such a mess right now, but are there anything where high schoolers can join on that level, or even people younger than that?

Ayah: So that's honestly a great question. I don't think we've thought too much about it. We kind of think about anyone who's like a non-student, whether you're a high schooler or you're actually like an older community member. We just kind of focus on doing more community based things. And so if people come and they really like what we're doing, they're always welcome to get into contact with us to see what more they could be doing. Whether that's just like boycott, divestment and all that sanctions, or if it's just actually doing groundwork and going out and coming to meetings. signing petitions, all that stuff.

Peyton: So while advocating for justice in Palestine, I know you work to spread information about Palestine history and culture. What kind of events do you organize to teach people more about Palestine specifically? So what are the, give me the rundown of a typical agenda. Like, you're saying how there's an event coming up discussing apartheid. Like, what would a meeting like that look like?

Ayah: So usually we will have ,so a lot of our meetings, we love to focus on audience interaction. So we'll have a PowerPoint on specifically what we'll be talking about, and then we'll have some bullet points and pictures and stuff. But a lot of the time we like to use PowerPoint just because people come in and they take notes. Oh, wow. Yeah. So it's really important that they have a source in case that they can't come. They have a source that they can look at or that if they do, they don't have to scramble to write everything down. As we're talking, they have key facts and key points on the Powerpoints, which is really nice. But yeah, and then we have a section in the middle, sometimes towards the end, where it's a lot of. Audience interaction and asking the audience their ideas and what they think. Or even just for Palestine 101, for example, we do a little section towards the end before we get to questions where it's like we give a bunch of different examples like which one is anti Semitism and which one is just anti Zionist. And so getting members to figure out the difference between this is something that's anti Zionist and it isn't anti Semitism. Those things are not together. They are very misconstrued to be together, but they're not synonymous with one another. So we do a lot of work like that, just so when you find things on Palestine like out and about, you're able to decipher are they actually being pro Palestine, anti Zionist, or are they just being anti Semitic under the guise of anti Zionism? So just like teaching them keywords, things to look at or things to look out for.

Peyton: So a big part of it is like media literacy?

Ayah: Yeah, for sure. Because it's one of the easiest and most effective ways of completely denouncing an organization. Or especially like indigenous resistance. We saw that with the United States and indigenous tribes here and we've seen that all over with the United States and their media and other resistance, indigenous resistance groups like in Cuba and whatnot.

Peyton: So how is it, as I guess, on a more individual level, being involved in this organization or being Palestinian yourself, how is that experience, guess, shape your lens in your day to day life?

Ayah: Yeah. So for me. I guess the biggest way that it shows up is I tend to have very little to no patience when it comes to hearing things that are very anti Palestinian or very much on the border of being anti Palestinian, which is something I definitely need to work on. Because in order to connect with other people and to change their minds, you do have to connect. And you do have to meet them in the middle and then tie things into their, like I tie material things that they face in their lives to the struggle. So, yeah, I can't remember specifically.

Peyton: No, that's totally fine. But these are important things to note. So how can students best support your cause?

Ayah: Yeah, so specifically, when it comes to supporting SJP at the U of A, just really, like, paying attention to what we're posting. Like when there's general meetings or when there are workshops, like, coming through, even if you can't come at least getting in contact with either me or Baya, SJP president. That way you can have access to the powerpoints and the materials that we do use be, because you don't have to be there in order to do your own work. Like, we expect our members to be disciplined in the fact that they're

doing their own work and they're looking at things and they're doing stuff. But when it comes to supporting the Palestinian cause in general, the biggest thing is just like not supporting and giving money to companies like Pillsbury or Sabra because they operate in illegal occupied Palestinian or Palestine settlements or I guess illegal Israeli settlements. And yeah, so just that and speaking up and whenever something comes up about Palestine, just being aware of what is being talked about and the tone of the conversation.

Peyton: Yeah, very good insight. So then what changes would you like to see happen at the U of A among students and with administration kind of in relation to SJP or your advocacy or just how things are perceived in general?

Ayah: Yeah. So the U of A has a very large Zionist presence here. And the administration is also very Zionist in the way and who they have do their repairs and have construction like the Caterpillar machinery. They are used in Israel or occupied Palestine to bulldoze Palestinian ancestral homes in front of them. And if they don't do it themselves, they're fined. So just doing, divesting out of those places. Yeah, just like little things like that. J Street is also a very Zionist organization and they receive a lot of funding as well and just like combating those things, I'd like to see less of like, I don't know, Zionist presence. As far as even in Academia, when you're writing, you see a lot of talk about Israel rather than occupied Palestine, which completely erases Palestinian natives and people who've been there all their lives.

Peyton: Yeah. So as far as the curriculum being taught, then when talking about this specific subject, you feel like some of the diction is just not appropriate and the reference material is skewed?

Ayah: Yeah, absolutely. There's actually a course that's on history and whatever of Israel, and it's crazy because the history of Israel barely just started, so there's not much to cover and not even to mention that it's a settler colonial occupation apartheid. So just like all these things, it's kind of just like, how is this getting school funding to have this course?

Peyton: Yeah. Do you think as the years pass and obviously generations change, there'll be more aligned ideology in America towards support like causes like SJP? Or do you think it's going to always be this kind of tension filled divide?

Ayah: Yeah, so, honestly, I really don't know. Just because there have been some studies out there that's been done, like political studies that have shown that there's a growing number of Americans realizing that the occupation in Israel is not something that's good, it's not normal, it's not something that we should be aiding or funding as an American government. But at the same time, the struggle with Palestinian natives and the struggle with indigenous tribes here in the United States is very much intertwined and connected. So, honestly, I don't really know. Just because some people may not want to feel hypocritical about being on stolen land and then talking about, oh, you need to get off stolen land. But I do like to think that there will be like a growing acceptance towards pro Palestinian people and Palestinian folks as well. Yeah.

Peyton: Nice. So then what do you feel have had the university's culture or the culture of Tucson as a whole? What impact do you feel that you have had at the university's culture or the culture of Tucson as a whole? And what do you hope listeners take away from what you have shared today?

Ayah: So, like, a big thing is that we do like Keffiyeh Thursdays, which is where you show your solidarity with Palestine by wearing a Keffiyeh, which is also known as a shemagh, which a lot of people have more knowledge with that, but it's essentially just like what Palestinian resistance fighters use in order to fight back and also keep their identity safe. So I've seen a lot of folks stop me and ask me about that on Thursdays. And as well as when I wear my SJP members shirt, people tend to stop me and ask me a bunch of questions about who we are, what do we do, where can you find us, our meetings and stuff like that. And. So, yeah, I think that's everything?

Peyton: So then I guess my last question that I have for you today is what piece of advice would you want to give everyone listening or that everyone will listen to this recording right now about SJP, about existing in stolen space and about learning when to listen, et cetera, et cetera.

Ayah: Yeah, so some advice I would give is just, like, being, doing the research on what you're talking about as far as if you know someone who has any experience with that, just, like, talking to them and figuring out where they are. Can even give you a lot of insight, especially if you don't know where to look. Talking to someone who is honestly, I hate to say it, but on both sides, you get to see the difference in the narratives, quote unquote, that are being painted, and you really get to figure out, like, okay, well, someone's definitely lying, and I don't feel like it's the person who's lying about attempted genocide. You know what I mean? So you kind of have to I really do hate to say it, but talk on both sides to people and really figure it out. But I guess the biggest thing that people can do is just especially looking up places that you can boycott, because, I mean, it's easier to boycott, like, Pillsbury and Sabra, stuff like that, which are the most popular than the University divesting out of Caterpillar company. So it's much easier to do some stuff, like, individually like that, and then have your friends kind of join in with that and then really just like. The Palestinian community isn't too large in Arizona or like Tucson specifically. So it is a little bit harder to find people who are actually Palestinian. But for me, I get a lot of my information from Twitter, just because Twitter is one of the only social networks that doesn't necessarily censor you on a much like Facebook and Instagram, they both censor people so badly, especially like pro Palestinian and Palestinians on the ground. So I would just suggest finding places or finding accounts that are actually Palestinian and actually Palestinians on the ground talking about what's going on. Because a lot of the time they send pictures, they post things

Peyton: Like real time information.

Ayah: Yeah. And so a good site. One of my favorite sources that I like to check on, and they're also on Telegram for folks who use that app, is Resistance News Network. If you guys would like to find them. There is a link, I believe, on our link tree in the Instagram bio. But essentially if you just look up on Twitter like Resistance News Network, it should come up. But they're one of the biggest resistance News networks and they've already been censored and shut down a few times.

Peyton: Oh my God.

Ayah: Yeah. So it's really just an ongoing battle trying to keep them up and trying to get them back up after they've been taken down. So it's just, you really got to stay active with them because they're constantly so many accounts that speak up are obviously always being suppressed or censored. And so you do have to keep up with it, I won't lie to you. It's not something you can just follow and then not see for the next few months, because that account may very well not exist in a few months.

Peyton: That's insane.

Ayah: Yeah.

Peyton: So as far as being an active and invested, not really, like, I guess, social media presence in relation to this, but, like, online and getting accurate information, do you think that because some people, especially those in the older generation, don't really get news per se from social media? So do you think larger news sites report accurately on what's going on, or is it too skewed to even pay attention to?

Ayah: Honestly, it is too skewed to pay attention to. I honestly don't recommend doing that. That's why being pro Palestine is really having discipline in doing the work, just because it is really hard to be able to decipher what the media is saying, which is why we do so many workshops on media literacy. It's not just like when it comes to reading books. It's very much like the news that we watch. They always reference Palestinians as insurgents or militants or whatever. When Palestinians are wounded or whatever, but then when Israelis are wounded, it's like, oh, this innocent citizen. And then even then, they completely try to erase Palestinians as a whole by taking away our names. They just call us, like, Arab citizens of Israel, when in reality, it is very, very, very rare for a Palestinian to even get citizenship in Israel. Whereas anyone else, you could literally go like, as long as you have no Palestinian ancestral DNA, you will get your citizenship with a blink of an eye. But if you have anything tying you back to ancestral Palestine, it's nearly impossible.

Peyton: So, um. I guess how do I phrase it? So then the Palestinian population that, let's say, is currently living in Israel, they are being actively promoted to move out.

Ayah: Yeah. So Palestinians living in occupied Palestine, they are either arrested, they're shot. A lot of them are placed into administrative detention, which is indefinite imprisonment with no charges. There is also, as I mentioned earlier, the Israeli government and Israeli higher ups, including military and even citizens, they will force Palestinians to either bulldoze their own house, like be the one bulldozing them, or they'll have to pay a fine that they won't be able to really pay back, because the government of Israel has made it nearly impossible for them to make money by closing off. Palestine was very wealthy when it came to their trade versus on the sea and on the land. We were very diverse and very successful. But being in an open air prison, you are not able to access the sea. You're not able to access different parts of the country. Like, some Palestinians don't even know how to make dishes, like and like ancestral Palestinian dishes that use fish because they weren't close to the, you know, the the sea. So yeah, like the government of Israel really does its best. And not even just the government. There are citizens, too, who partake in this and participate in this. There are so many. When you go to occupied Palestine and you want to live there, the Israeli government will kick out a Palestinian from their ancestral home that's been in their DNA and with their ancestors for going back to pretty much after the Ottoman Empire. My house, my family's ancestral house, we've had for ages, like decades upon decades, and it was destroyed when my father was forcibly displaced from his village in 1947, I believe, um, shortly after the first Nabka had started. So, yeah, you really get to see, I guess, the dehumanization of Palestinians by both the Israeli government and its citizens.

Peyton: So how do you feel? Because I know a bunch of people that go on birthright to occupy Palestine. How, as a Palestinian, what emotions does that bring up?

Ayah: Honestly, I have mostly emotions of just complete rage and anger and just sadness because a lot of these people have like .001% of Jewish ancestry, and yet they're funded and able to go and these birthright trips completely paid for and they brag about it and they rave about them. And it's crazy because it's like you go to Indigenous land and then you see the natives of that land being completely just abused, mutilated, our martyrs, the people who die for our cause, their bodies are kept for years and years and years by the Israeli occupation. And there are many times where we've never gotten bodies back, we've never gotten the bodies of our martyrs. And for people to go there who aren't even Jewish sometimes for them to go there and brag about, like, oh, yeah, it was amazing, it was beautiful. Thanks so much. I will never be able to go walk the streets of my father.

Peyton: Where my father grew up.

Ayah: Yeah, I'll never be able to see what he experienced. I'll literally never be able to do that because at that point, my father's village is literally the dirt on the ground

Peyton: And you would be putting yourself in danger going back. And especially the apartheid wall. It is a very dehumanizing thing to go through. Palestinians spend hours there just waiting to cross over. I believe last year or a few months ago, there was literally like a toddler who was forced to take off his shirt because it had a gun on it, and it was simply just like a gun. But then you have Israeli settlers and people visiting Israel who have these literally military grade weapons on them, and they're just allowed to walk in and go around and walk around freely with nothing. And if they are ever stood up to, the Israeli occupational forces are right there protecting them. And it's vice versa. Like when Israeli occupational forces are being stood up to and fought back against, like settlers come in and they start helping them. So it's very much like there is no difference between to me, there is no difference between someone who's in the Israeli occupational force and also being a settler, because nine times out of ten, they're both from the same place. A lot of settlers that are in occupied Palestine are very much European, or they're American. They have little to no ties to occupied Palestine, whereas my father was literally displaced. I'm a first generation Palestinian American, and I will not be allowed to go visit my home for probably the next couple of decades.

Peyton: It's heartbreaking.

Ayah: Yeah, it's really something. And I feel like that's kind of what keeps me going as far as it is a hard struggle to fight. It is so disheartening seeing how we are viewed amongst even some people that I've met. I tell them that I'm Palestinian, and I get this look.

Peyton: really?

Ayah: I tell people I'm Palestinian. They're like, oh, have you ever been to Blank, Blank, Blank in Israel? I'm like, you mean occupied Palestine? No, I haven't, because I'm not allowed to go back home. Yeah, so it's very disheartening. But then I remember that my ancestors like the people who came before us, they've been fighting the fight, and we have been successful in some ways. Like, small wins are still wins. And so just like. Trying to do my work in the United States, like basically in the belly of the beast, while my people are very much being martyred, like multiple people being martyred every day. It's like my way of helping them because it's not like you can send care packages anymore. Yeah, we used to do that every couple of months and now we are literally not allowed to. They will be sent back or they will be rummaged through by Israeli forces and then they steal everything that is actually of use and they give them the scraps. They do that with letters. You think they're not going to do that with goods?

Peyton: I'm assuming you attended a public school in America. How was, let's say, education surrounding World War II and the come of Occupy Palestine in the moment, were you trying to discern the information or did people, you know, kind of help guide you and being like, this isn't the whole picture?

Ayah: So actually my lifestyle and specifically like Palestinian activism began in second grade. So by the time I had reached the point where we were talking about World War II, I kind of already knew. Yeah. And my mom is very much a history buff. Like anything I have any questions on, I go to her. She's the one who taught me about the Balfour Declaration, which essentially gave Israel land by the UN and England. So she's very much like my history book in a sense. But my first experience with that and what really forced me to look at it was we were doing like a family history, like family tree type deal in second grade and we use the globe to figure out where we were from. Well, I couldn't find Palestine on the globe because Israel was there. And I was like, that's so weird. I know what my country looks like, like the shape and everything. I know where it is, but I can't find it. And so my teacher came up to me, she's like, hey, what are you looking for? And I was like, oh, Palestine. She's like, oh yeah, we don't call it that anymore. It's called Israel. Like Palestine doesn't exist anymore. And I remember the rest of my day and you know, this was like second period, so this was early in the morning. And I remember the rest of my day, I was just like sitting there like, what did she mean by that? My father is literally from Palestine. What does she mean? Yeah, once I got to World War II in 7th grade, and when we started kind of learning about that, like 6th or 7th grade, we really did not ever touch on Palestine or the taking of Palestine. I remember I had to be the one to tell my teachers, like, hey, around this time, Palestine was being taken and they were burning down whole villages, they were literally burning down resources. As far as our ancestral olive trees, which have literally been around since prehistoric Palestine. Olive trees take years and years and years to grow. So Palestinians are very connected with their land and especially our olive trees because they show, like, resilience, they show strength, they show history.

Peyton: Yeah, that's even more heartbreaking because the whole symbolism of the olive branch

Ayah: And Kuffiyeh, the patterns on them, there is olive leaves on them. There's trade things of trade, trade routes, there's patterns of the seed because of how much we used to trade all these things. We are very sentimental people in the sense that it almost feels like if you forget about one part of Palestine, everything else falls away because we're fighting to even keep Palestine relevant. So if you forget about the olive tree, it's like, well, that's it. It's like Israel can take your olive trees now and no one's going to bat an eye. And I mean, they're already doing that. So it's just like, it's hard to keep up with everything and all the different important segments of Palestinian culture and tradition while still like, I don't know. Not like tiring yourself.

Peyton: Yeah. It's like a double edged sword because also because you're in America and not there, there may be some disconnect because you haven't been there physically, and then it's heavy.

Ayah: Yeah. And I mean, it's hard, too, because being a Palestinian American, I haven't had the chance to visit my homeland yet. And my parents haven't visited their homeland since my father was displaced and then my mother shortly after that. So it's hard to kind of fit into these with other Middle Easterns, because most of the time they've either immigrated from their country or they visited their country. And so it's really hard because there's this disconnect when I tell people, oh, I'm Palestinian, they're like, oh, have you ever gone back home? And I'm like, oh, just you wait to hear about this, I can't! And then talking with Americans, a lot of them don't have really like, they know as much as the media tells them. And as we've already covered, the media is very Zionist, so a lot of them have these Zionist views. And so, it's either, like, feeling like you don't fit in or feeling like you're being dehumanized. And so it's really hard. That's why I feel like when meeting other Palestinians, they just know, yes, there are other Middle Eastern countries that have those struggles. Like, if you look at Syria, they're also going through something similar with Israel. But I've never personally, personally, I've always felt completely understood and seen when it comes to other Palestinians because they know what it's like to not be able to go home. And even if you have the means to go home, the government will not let you go home.

Peyton: Especially if families are stratified, if people have relatives back.

Ayah: Yeah, this is not about Palestine, but my mom's family in Syria, they are kind of in the area where Israel consistently bombs them. It's hard every time they call, it's like, will this be the last call we get from them? And being that America's immigration system also sucks, it's hard because we're at the risk of if we go, we might not be able to come back in. And so it's just this constant battle between,

well, we should go see our family just in case anything happens, and then, well, what are we going to do after that? Because we're not allowed back in.

Peyton: Or if you go in and something terrible happens while you're there yeah.

Ayah: Exactly. They're going to look at you and they're going to be like, that sucks. We'll figure it out. This is not our problem. And so, like, to me, like, the American immigration system and Israel's immigration system is very much the same in the sense that unless you're quote unquote, like, for lack of a better term, colored. Whether it's like with America, we see Haitian immigrants and Middle Eastern immigrants and other places in Africa, immigrants coming from there, they're not allowed to come in because of the fact that they're dark skinned and where they're from. But if you're European, during the Ukraine war, Ukrainians came here and they were given citizenship almost immediately. They were let in almost immediately. And then when you look at Israel, Europeans and other folks who aren't necessarily, again, lack of a better term, colored, they're not allowed in. If you're lighter skinned, you are allowed in especially if you have any ties to being Jewish or something like that, you're literally on the spot allowed in. Whereas if you're from a Middle Eastern country or you're Palestinian or have any ties to being pro Palestine, good luck, good luck. You're going to be in that line for hours.

Peyton: And the worst part is to just compound the garbage pile of the situation is like post 9/11, people from the Middle East have been horribly, horribly, horribly treated. So then it's like you take that whole stigma and awfulness and then compound it on people that need assistance in real time. Like real people that need help because of all these terrible labels and discrimination. It's not even seriously considered, I feel, in addition to everything that's going on.

Ayah: Yeah, of course. I totally agree. And it kind of reminds me of how the Zionist project, their biggest thing was making sure that they conflate the meanings between anti Semitism and anti Zionist. So that way, if you ever say anything about the state of Israel, it's, oh, you're anti Semitic, but you cannot be anti Semitic to an institution; that does not exist. It is an institution, it's not a person or a group of people. And so you see that when it comes to when you talk about 9/11 in America as well, people are like, oh, you're anti American. It's like, no, it's not anti American to say that after 9/11 happened, the American government went into several Middle Eastern countries and gave them a 9/11 every day, that's not anti American to say.

Peyton: It's true.

Ayah: Yeah, and it's true. It's not wrong to say it doesn't have to be one or the other, two things can be true at once. It can be true that some people view Israel as like a Jewish sanctuary, even though that's actually not true. But it can be true that people view it as that, when in reality. And it can also be true that Israel is a settler colonial project. Like, two things can be true.

Peyton: Same thing with America and Indigenous, right?

Ayah: Exactly.

Peyton: European.

Ayah: Yeah, exactly. But to me, it's just crazy because people talk about Israel and the state of Israel being a Jewish, Jewish sanctuary state. In reality, they didn't give Ashkenazi Jews, they treated them like second class citizens when the Zionist project began and occupied Palestine, they treated them like second class citizens. They were scum, pretty much. That's how they were treated. And so once they gained rights because the Prime Minister ended up giving them rights because they were afraid that they would form a coalition with Palestinians. That's what happened.

Peyton: Literally the same story, different place with American culture and how poor whites were treated like people of color, but then they were like, oh, no. Well, we can't have them.

Ayah: Right?

Peyton: Because they’re rising up.

Ayah: They saw the Black Panther Party coming in and being like, you guys are also oppressed. It's not just about race. This isn't just a race battle. It's a class battle.

Peyton: Yeah.

Ayah: We're looking at these people who have all the wealth at the top, and then they're treating everyone else like garbage, but they're giving you scraps. Like, yeah, you get paid a dollar more than the black man or the black person. But I mean, you make 3001 of these things, and you can only afford one of them for a day's work.

Peyton: And it's the feeling it's well, I may not have it better, but culturally I'm viewed as better, which just feeds into the cycle all over again.

Ayah: Yeah. No. And so that's why it's important that SJP does these comparisons to show people that. This isn't that far removed from you. The occupation of Palestine is not far removed from you. It's only removed from me, from my father. I'm one person removed from it. So it's important showing how all these connections can be made with different struggles as well. Like, you look at the reproductive struggle and the struggle for reproductive rights. You look at the struggle for LGBTQ individuals in Israel. If you're LGBTQ, that's fine, but if you're Palestinian, you're Palestinian before you're LGBTQ. Yeah, that's it. And they talk about women's rights and how Israel is, it's like, number one in the world for having women in high military professions. And I'm like, oh, so it's women's rights to kill other brown women?

Peyton: Yeah, what?

Ayah: How are you giving women a better world when you're just only talking to a significant demographic of women? And it becomes blaringly obvious the more you look at it and the more you start interacting with the news on Palestine, whether it's Zionist or not, you start to see it. Once you can piece together words and the narrative that they're trying to paint, and you look for keywords, like militant insurgents, conflict, you start realizing, like, you know exactly what you're about to read. You know exactly their main points of what they're going to touch on. And so it's very predictable. And again, that goes back to the importance of media literacy, because American media especially. So they focus yeah, they focus on, like they don't teach you how to read media in schools. And it's not because media was new at the time and technology was new. No. It's because if you can't understand what the media is telling you, you can't fight back, you can't organize. You can't do anything about it if you don't know what they're saying. Like, right now, we're talking about there's, like, the courts talking about the TikTok ban. They're not just talking about banning TikTok. They're talking about looking at your Internet history through or talking about looking at what you're looking at through the Internet, through your WiFi

Peyton: It’s like a huge right to privacy issue.

Ayah: Right And it's like they do these things. They paint these huge, super important issues under the guise of something stupid like TikTok ban. You hear that, you're not going to care. You hear something like the invasion on your rights and privacy because they're looking at your IP address and what things are connected to your IP address. You're going to freak out.

Peyton: Yeah. With all the Homeland Security stuff that people are just, like, getting their calls tapped. That was like a huge, thing people were pissed.

Ayah: Yeah. And like, you know, it just kind of goes back to, like to me, I just feel like, I've always said this history will forever repeat itself until you learn. And you start really memorizing points and the beginnings of when things happen and we start seeing it when we talk about trans rights or queer rights, we start seeing the eradication of them completely like them being talked about as human beings.

Peyton: And then it's all like a distraction. All of these social issues that shouldn't even be politicized, that are now coming to the forefront because they're tangible, but at the same.

Ayah: Yeah, exactly. It all comes together. It all comes full circle. Which is why you can't be pro Black Lives Matter or pro reproductive rights and anti Palestinian or pro Israel. You cannot do that. People who actually know what they're talking about are going to look at you and they're going to be like, you've never read a book, have you? That's what it's going to come down to. And I hear it myself. Even at meetings, we've had hecklers come in. Professors at the U of A who are Zionists come in and heckle us and try to incite violence. That's happened a couple of times now, and this was before I was even vice president. Yeah, they come in, and they try to twist your words, and they try to focus on key things that have nothing to do with what you're talking about.

Peyton: Also the sheer audacity and rudeness. You have to come into a safe space for education about objectively sensitive issues.

Ayah: And it's crazy, too, because he came in talking about, like, oh, yeah, I'm a professor. Came in with a notebook. He was taking notes, and then randomly, he was like, well, if you guys don't like Israel so much or DA DA DA DA, if you guys want to center Palestine so much, why don't you guys just go fight you know, like J Street or something? I'm like, Dude, we're literally college students. This isn't WWE. What? You are a college professor. And you are coming into a student-led space. Like a space for students led by students.

Peyton: Yeah.

Ayah: And here you are, inciting violence, causing, like, low-key panic and

Peyton: Absurdity, Absurdity, absurdity. Radicalize yourself, take extreme action. But

Ayah: There's a place for everything.

Peyton: There's a place for everything.

Ayah: And you know what? The university doing something led by students talking about the atrocities happening is not ever going to be the place for you to say, yeah, let's go up, arm ourselves, and go and fight Halal or J Street or whatever. We're not focusing on that. You can do that. Sure, there is an importance of armed resistance and indigenous resistance, but school is not the place for that. We'll be shut down in an instant.

Peyton: Yeah. And also, when you do things like that that are inappropriate and the time in place, it further gives people ammo to discredit you.

Ayah: Yeah, exactly. Because people have a very, americans especially have a very sick way of looking at armed resistance when it comes to indigenous people like Ukraine, Russia. The American government is like sending billions and billions and billions of dollars to aid to basically give weapons and military stuff to Ukraine to fight the taking of their land because they're indigenous. And now it's a big deal. And now it's okay for indigenous resistance to be armed. But then you look at how America paints a picture of Palestinians being armed and I mean, they're like, oh, it's so bad. Like Hamas is so bad, when in reality, Palestinian resistance fighters and Palestinian resistance groups, they use undetonated bombs that were dropped by Israel, they use weaponry dropped by Israel, they buy their stuff on the black market from ex Israeli militants. And like people in the military, all this stuff is coming from the other side. We were using slingshots and rocks. That is a very commonly used weapon, so to speak, when it comes to Palestinian resistance. You see kids doing it because, I mean, you're not going to give a toddler or like a small young child, a big old AK or an AR.

Peyton: Just goes to show that if your highest grade weaponry is slingshot and rocks, then there was no need for violence

Ayah: Exactly.

Peyton: Beforehand.

Ayah: Exactly. Literally. Exactly. Because then you have one side is using slingshots and rocks as their primary way of attacking arms, and then you have one side that's being given billions and billions dollars for military grade tanks, literally, like nuclear bombs, freaking AR-15s, like stuff that you see in the military. You know what I mean? When you think of the military and all the weapons that they have, that's what Israel has. And then you think of everything that's like, like self protection, like, you know, like almost like pepper spray, like like rocks, you know, like, that's what the other side has. So is this really like an Israeli-Palestinian conflict or is this actually just attempted genocide? Because you can't really say that this is a conflict or an equal. When you say, like, Palestinian-Israeli conflict, you're insinuating that it's an even playing field. It's not! It never was. Israel from the dawn of time, the Zionist project was always funded by somebody else. It was funded by the UN. It was funded before that. It was funded by the UK. Then it was funded by the UN. Now it was funded by the American, like the America wow. America. Wow. You look at that and I mean, people say Palestine, like occupied Palestine. It was always supposed to be occupied Palestine. That's not true. The Zionist project actually, Theodore Herzl, the creator of the Zionist project, he actually was in between three different places, Palestine being one of them. So it wasn't like there was this is

Peyton: Manifest destiny.

Ayah: Yeah, exactly. Yes. There's historical revelation, significance to Palestine, but I mean, like, Christianity has that, like, you know, like Jews have that. Like that. That's why Palestine before the Zionist project began, we had Palestinian Jews, we had Palestinian Christians, we had Palestinian Muslims, we had everybody. And everyone just kind of, like, kicked it because there wasn't one group being like, oh, we're superior, we're the supreme, and everybody else is garbage.

Peyton: Because it was too homogenized. It got taken advantage of.

Ayah: Right, exactly. And so because of that, we had a very good relationship with Palestinian Jews and we were like, you know what? Yeah, after the Holocaust happening, maybe you guys should have some of your own area pretty much, where you can build community. And then it just started becoming more of that. They just started taking it without asking. And I mean, even if they had asked, would it really matter? No, it wouldn't, but you can't even ask. You know what I mean? I don't know, it's just like little things like that. It, um. I don't know. You really start to see the connection between, like I said, America and Israel, which I like to call Israel America's Son. Because it is. Yeah, I mean, Israel can do no wrong under America's eyes and that's because they funded them for so long.

Peyton: It's an investment.

Ayah: Yeah, exactly. So why would you put so much money into something? You've put so much time and effort and you've sent your police departments to go train with Israeli forces. It's like, why would you say that they're attempting genocide on a group of people? Why would you say?

Peyton: It doesn’t look good

Ayah: It doesn't look good. It doesn't look good at all. Then you have people trying to kick you out of office, you have people trying to revolt against you. You have people starting to open up to the fact that the government lies to you. And I mean, people started noticing that after the Vietnam War, but it wasn't to this extent. People didn't really realize how much the government has lied to them. They had an idea after the Vietnam War, but I don't think they've still realized that the government is doing it to them constantly.

Peyton: And now with social media, it's just a

Ayah: So much worse. And then you have AI coming out and that is a whole can of worms in itself.

Peyton: But on that note, we're going to wrap up.

Ayah: Oh yeah, I mean that's pretty much because I wasn't going to open that can of worms. That's a big old thing. That's a whole nother section.

Peyton: I want to thank you so much for coming on. This was a very wonderful and informative conversation. And for anyone listening, please check out the University of Arizona's SJP chapter. Thank you so much for coming on. This is KAMP Student Radio news interview series. We have interviews like this every Monday, so if you enjoyed it, please listen again next week. And I hope everyone has an amazing day.

Thank you for supporting KAMP News, if you have any questions comments or concerns feel free to reach out to

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