Palestinian students in California protest Israeli annexation in caravan

The protests were organized by UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and Santiago Canyon College.

A Palestinian holds a poster reading, "Palestinian Lives Matter" at an anti-annexation protest in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
A Palestinian holds a poster reading, "Palestinian Lives Matter" at an anti-annexation protest in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
A caravan of cars led by Palestinian university students drove around Irvine, California, in a protest of Israel's planned annexation of parts of the West Bank, local Orange County news outlet Voice of OC reported.
The protests were organized by UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and Santiago Canyon College.
The presence of Palestinian students in the area isn't surprising. Speaking to the Voice of OC, Rashad al-Dabbagh, executive director of the Arab American Civic Council, explained that California has the largest population of Arab Americans in the US, with around 41,000 living in Orange County alone.
This is not the first time students in the area have spoken out against Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and often they faced pushback from their universities, and even arrests. However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to adapt to newer forms of protest, and the threat of Israeli annexation has made them begin protesting with greater urgency.
With these limitations in mind, the protest organizers came up with a caravan. This is because campuses are empty due to the summer and classes being online, and they reasoned that a caravan would put them at less risk of contracting COVID-19.
The protesters spoke to the news outlet without giving their last names, so as not to put them at risk.
“It’s hard to advocate and do things online especially because being in person is a huge aspect of being able to bring people together. The movement has definitely been harder to continue with the pandemic which is why we wanted to try and do a caravan,” one of the organizers, Rana, told Voice of OC.
“We have to do a lot of reimagination of what protesting looks like, especially when we have to practice social distancing and with the fear of coronavirus so there’s lots of things that we have to consider that we wouldn’t have had to had COVID not been around,” explained Hanin, another one of the organizers.
“There’s lots of learning on our end.”
According to the local news outlet, the protesters wore signs, wove Palestinian flags and donned keffiyehs before the cars drove out in single file, honking as protesters stuck out the sides of the cars holding signs with anti-annexation messages and shouting "free Palestine."
The organizers plan to hold more protests in August, the Voice of OC reported.
This protest comes almost a month after the July 1 date by which the Israeli government can start making preparations to move forward with annexation, in accordance with the "Deal of the Century" peace plan unveiled by US President Donald Trump.
Despite the talk of annexation, however, and how much of a political issue it was in the weeks leading up to July 1, no move regarding annexation has taken place.
Since then, while it is not necessarily off the agenda, neither Jerusalem nor Washington are talking about going through with it, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi explained Wednesday, adding that “If it comes back, without harming existing [peace] agreements and in dialogue with our neighbors… you will hear our stance again.”
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.