In spite of its very recent formation, the Society for the Peace and Justice in Palestine at Virginia Tech is already stepping up its game by organizing a benefit concert to raise money for the United Nations Relief and Work Agency.
All the money from the event will be donated for the assistance of Palestinian refugees.
The doors opened on Wednesday night at 7:30 at the Graduate Life Center and the concert began at 8.
The concert featured hip-hop artist Khaled M — who is the son of a Libyan revolutionary — as well as the Palestinian-American poet and activist, Remi Kanazi. Both artists are culturally and ideologically rooted to the cause.
Remi Kanazi, who comes from a family of Palestinian refugees, caught the audience’s attention as soon as he started his first poem "Coexistence."
“I think college students are becoming a lot more aware about this cause,” Kanazi said. “I think we should be rethinking the model of where we should be investing. I think we should be investing in education and jobs and not in wars for profit.”
Other artists that performed were DJ Rock Solid, MC Celine Fadel and Virginia Tech’s very own premier a capella group Naturally Sharp.
Lina Barkawi, a senior in industrial systems engineering, founded the SPJP in the Fall of 2011. She was motivated to start the club after a particularly impactful visit to Palestine two summers ago.
“It’s unbelievable. You wouldn’t believe the things that happen. My cousins took me out to the highest building in the village," Barkawi said. "I remember them telling me that if I looked that way, I could see the sea. Then they said that they’d never been there and it’s because it’s an occupied territory so they can’t leave the vicinity of their village. That was what really hit me the hardest.”
The Benefit Concert attracted an intimate gathering of about 75 people, and the passion and loyalty was palpable in the room as the audience cheered loudly and enthusiastically for everyone who performed. The audience consisted of a mix of both students and non-students from Blacksburg.
“I have been following the Palestinian issue very closely and I am very disturbed about what has been happening. I support the SPJP completely,” said Rosemarie Sawdon, a resident of Blacksburg that attended the event.
The SPJP is an organization that hopes to spread awareness around campus, connect all Hokies and update Blacksburg with news of what happens in Palestine. By organizing concerts such as the benefit, it hopes to spread their message even further.
“Hopefully this evening will shed some light on the truth about all the occurrences in Palestine,” said Ali Buhisi, vice president of the SPJP.
The point of the entire concert was clear right from the very beginning.
“A lot of people don’t know what the situation is like. Even though it is not covered by the media, there are 5 million refugees without aid. We want that message to get across,” Barkawi said.