Since October 7, the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine has reignited, leading to a situation that is as devastating as it is polarising. Across the globe, people have been taking a humanitarian stand against the violence and overall conflict. This extends as far as Sackville, with many different events and posters going up about the conflict such as missing person posters, detailing hostages taken by Hamas plastered on communal boards, and “Ceasefire Now!” rally signs posted on various poles across the Sackville community. There has also been an effort to rally the community for charity. Mt. A’s Politics and International Relations (POLS/IR) society hosted a coffee house this past month to raise funds for affected children in the Gaza Strip through UNICEF. I spoke with Justin Jamieson, the president of the POLS/IR society, to find out more about his personal thoughts about the conflict and the successes of the societies’ event.
The event was advertised as a fundraiser for “Palestinian relief for children in Gaza.” Jamieson said the cause of the event was to aid the children who were caught in the middle of the devastating conflict. However, raising money or spreading awareness for Palestine and Palestinians may be deemed controversial or inappropriate by various groups or people. When I asked Jamieson why he believed it was important for this event to take place although some may deem it controversial, he replied that “supporting the people of Gaza should not be controversial and it is a travesty that people are losing their jobs and getting blacklisted for openly condemning the mass murder of innocent civilians.” Jamieson elaborated further saying that, “by pressuring our governments to take a stance and start acting, we can eliminate the stigma around supporting the oppressed and force Israel to stop their aggression because this is a one-sided conflict.” This conflict did not start on October 7, but has a larger historical context. This context adds to Jamieson’s reasons for supporting Palestine. “For those who may feel undereducated on the conflict and want to understand my reasoning to focus on Palestinians, please read about the founding of political Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, the British Mandate, the Nakba, the first and second Intifadas, and the various attacks on Gaza leading up to October 7,” said Jamieson.
Spreading awareness was not the only goal for the event. Raising emergency funds through donations was paramount. With over $650 raised for UNICEF and a larger-than-expected turnout, Jamieson deemed the event a success. However, when the coffeehouse was in its planning stages, the organizers attempted to get funding for the event from Mt. A, through the Campbell-Verduyn fund. However, Jamieson said that their submission was rejected. With Jamieson reporting that Mt. A said his application was ineligible on the basis of certain guidelines, with additional concern of how the event was being publicised by the society. Yet, Jamieson has a hunch that the apparent display of the Palestinian flag on various posters for the event may have spurred complaints, causing the aversion to grant funding. Despite the denial for additional funding, the coffee house was still a success in various ways: funds raised for the Palestinian children and for the POLS/IR society.