February 25, 2009

Spanish Students Fault Israel for Recent Violence

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(SEVILLE) — The recent events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict launched from Gaza have not only provoked emotional responses among Cornell students, but have also gained the attentions of students of the University of Seville. The students, however, are overwhelmingly polarized in favor of the Palestinians.
When Ángel Coca Brejano, student at the University of Seville, was asked the question of who is to blame for the current conflict in Gaza, Brejano responded, “It’s all the Jews’ fault.”
While Coca admitted that he was not entirely serious about his accusation against all Jews, he voiced the views of the majority of students, who believe that the State of Israel deserves the blame for the current situation in Gaza.
“None of it is the fault of the Palestinians,” he said. Coca believes that the majority of Sevillian students agree.
Although the University of Seville is home to over 75,000 students, Coca’s views seem to accurately reflect the palpable pro-Palestinian sentiments at the university.
When asked about the overall campus feelings towards Israel and the Palestinians, Emilio, who wished that his last name not be published, a student at the university, responded with a chuckle and shook his head at the apparently obvious question.
“In this country, they think that all the Palestinians are good and all the Israelis are bad,” he said. “They talk about the ‘poor Palestinians.’”
While some students acknowledge that the situation is “complicated” and lay blame with both Israel and the Palestinians, most ultimately sympathize with the Palestinians.
Alberto Carrascal Barrero, University of Seville student, explained, “In my opinion, both sides are at fault, but the situation is very complicated. With what’s happening now, Israel is abusing its power. The Palestinians are very poor, and Israel has more military power.”
With campuses throughout the city and most students commuting from home, student life is truly integrated into city life. Thus, the pro-Palestinian sentiments of the university students are indicative of the majority of Sevillan citizens.
According to the newspaper Diario de Sevilla, over 3,000 people in Sevilla marched in the streets in support of Palestine, with chants such as “Zionist state, terrorist state,” and “Israel murders Palestinian children.”
In February, the political group Andalucía with Palestine protested a peace concert by Israeli singer Noa, claiming that she “justified the massacre in Gaza,” according to EcoDiario.
Tensions also arose during a soccer game against Deportivo La Coruña in the Copa Del Rey match, when Sevilla soccer player Frédéric (Freddy) Oumar Kanouté revealed a t-shirt with the word Palestine in Spanish and Arabic after scoring a goal. When Kanouté received a yellow card and 3000 Euro fine, he also received overwhelming support by the people of Sevilla, according to The Muslim News.
When asked about the reasoning behind the popular support for the Palestinians, Jesús Arroyo Ramos, a student at the University of Seville, simply explained, “The majority here are against Israel.”
“Israel is strong,” Ramos said, “and here it’s a case of the strong abusing the weak.”
Besides supporting the underdog, Spanish students have also been instigated by anti-American sentiment.
“I support the Palestinians more because Hamas, a terrorist group, was funded by the West,” said Francisco Javier Alcaide Sezzano, another student at the University of Seville.
In the Faculty of Geography and History building, large black-and-white posters populate every hallway, stating, “Palestine: a tragic conflict without a solution?” and they advertise a meeting on Thursday to work towards “constructing the resistance to confront Western imperialism.”
According to Coca, “Most of the students [here] are in favor of the Palestinians,” he explained, “and they’re anti-Israeli because they’re anti-American [and the two countries are Israel, the students at the university were also quick to denounce the use of terrorism as retaliation.
“The methods that both sides use are bad,” Arroyo said.
In agreement, Coca explained, “Extremists are bad because with terror, you can’t move forward.”
In the end, most Spanish students of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tended to agree with Emilio’s conclusion that no one supports either side’s use of violence
“The base of the real situation is very difficult and complicated, but I hope for peace,” Emilio said.
*All quotes are translated from Spanish.