MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash., December 6, 2023—Approximately 50 Mountlake Terrace High School students waked out of their classes in protest on the morning of Tuesday, November 21, to show their support for Palestine amidst Israel’s retaliation on Gaza for Hamas’ early October surprise attacks.
Beginning around 9 a.m., the students marched from the school down 44th Avenue to a nearby Starbucks, chanting “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free” and sporting placards reading: “Free Palestine” and “Zionism equals genocide.” The students continued to protest in front of the Cedar Plaza QFC for a good 45-minute until returning to class around 11 a.m.
“I just wanted to spread awareness within my school and get people talking about the topic,” the event’s organizer, Mountlake Terrace High School student Amber, told the Lynnwood Times. “I felt like I had to do something to get the word out there.”
Mudabrah has been advocating for Palestinians on her social media pages since the beginning of October but felt like she needed to do more. She spread the word through various clubs at school, such as the Asian Student Union – where she gave a presentation on the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict and urged fellow students to join her cause.
Initially Mudabrah planned to bring more schools in the area, including schools in Everett and Lynnwood, but quickly realized it would be too large of a gathering for her to organize single-handedly.
“I wanted to do the walkout because I feel like, as a student and also a teenager, it’s kind of hard to go to protests because sometimes protests can be a little dangerous, considering what happened with the BLM [Black Lives Matter] protests,” said Christina J, Mountlake Terrace High School student and member of the Asian Student Union who heard about the protest during Mudabrah’s presentation.
Mudabrah is now working with her close friend Anabelle Westby, a fellow pro-Palestinian protester, on future events and protests. Westby informed the Lynnwood Times she had been following the events of Israel and Palestine since October 7 and was alarmed when a teacher of hers referred to the 1,200 Israelis (most of them civilians), who were murdered on October 7 by Hamas terrorists, “victims” while referring to the children killed in Gaza, by airstrikes conducted by the Israeli military, “collateral.” She said she conducted her own research and arrived at a different conclusion than her teacher’s “Pro-Israel” stance.
“The Palestinian struggle has been minimized and ignored for so long and I feel like what Hamas did was a result of that ignorance,” Westby told the Lynnwood Times.
That’s not to say Westby does not believe the Israelis who lost their lives October 7, were victims she clarified, but that she believed her teacher viewing the Israelis killed as victims but not the Palestinians who lost their lives during Israeli airstrikes, demonstrated bias and hypocrisy.
Westby also criticized the United States Government for aiding Israel while not sending aid to Gaza. Instead of sending bombs to Israel she said the United States should have sent the necessary supplies to people in Gaza that would prevent starvation and dehydration.
While the U.S. Department of Defense has in fact aided Israel’s military with several ground-penetrating munition, including buster bunker bombs, it has also mobilized $100 million in humanitarian assistance to aid the civilians in Gaza affected by the conflict, which includes airlifting over 54,000 pounds of supplies.
“Often we ignore the oppression and emotions of the oppressed, when talking about conflicts, because we’re always trying to understand the oppressors,” Mudabrah added. “We try and justify what [Israel] is currently doing, and humanize what they are currently doing, while ignoring all of the emotions that Palestinians have felt until now.”
Mudabrah clarified that her protest was not against the Jewish people nor about religion in general; It was simply about showing solidarity with Palestine. Mudabrah has witnessed a rise in both antisemitism and islamophobia in local schools lately, as well as the community at large, but she condemns both prejudices, she said. As a Muslim and Hijabi woman she fears every day, walking down the halls of her high school, that she may be the victim of Islamophobic attacks or remarks – especially after organizing the walkout event last month.
“I condemn antisemitism, that is not what I speak for. I speak for the ending of this genocide and for Palestinians not to be killed in inhumane conditions while being justified as self-defense by Israel,” said Mudabrah.
Both Mudabrah and Westby plan to organize another rally in January but as of now the details have yet to be finalized. Mudabrah also wishes to start a fundraiser to raise funds for Palestinians affected by the conflict and eventually print out the names of Palestinians who lost their lives so that people never forget. For updates on future events people can follow her on Instagram at mths.protests.
Students who participated in the protest were docked for unexcused absences but otherwise there was no further reprimand from the school for their demonstration.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The article was updated 6:33 p.m. on December 6, 2023, to include, “That’s not to say Westby does not believe the Israelis who lost their lives October 7, were victims she clarified, but that she believed her teacher viewing the Israelis killed as victims but not the Palestinians who lost their lives during Israeli airstrikes, demonstrated bias and hypocrisy,” for clarification of a remark.