Binghamton University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter held a vigil and speak-out this past Thursday to advocate for the lives and safety of Palestinian civilians, as the death toll rises in Gaza.

Held on the Peace Quad, the vigil began with an E-Board member speaking about leadership and the vigil’s importance. After, a poem was recited, and a speaker read the names of families wiped out throughout the Israeli military’s campaign in Gaza. Entries from Queering the Map, a community platform for queer people to share their experiences, were read aloud. Throughout, SJP leadership led mourners in symbolic moments of silence, which represented the amount of Gazans killed by the Israeli military.

Paper flowers, created in the colors of the Palestinian flag at an event two days before, were distributed to the crowd. When attendees left, they were instructed to leave them on the ground in a display of solidarity with Palestinians.

“We held this vigil to remind everyone of the weight of these numbers and the importance of remembrance,” SJP’s E-Board wrote. “The greatest thing you can do for the innocent lives who lived in and died at the hands of oppression is to immortalize their memory and make value and inspiration by the lives they lived.”

The vigil comes after several SJP events, meant to bring attention to and advocate for the Palestinian people. Previously, the group organized a rally — which marched twice around campus — and a walkout, both centered around the Pegasus Statue outside Bartle Library Tower.

A representative from the Feminist Collective, a group present at prior SJP events, spoke next, stressing that safety for one group should not come at the detriment of another.

“Never is the slaughter of 21,000 people justified by the pain anyone may feel,” they said. “How dare anyone turn a blind eye. We will not forget your silence and complicity. My heart — and I know our collective hearts today — break every second for Palestine. For families that will never get to grow. For the children who dream of their families, their loved ones and their homes. For the mothers and fathers trying to protect their children and let them be kids for just a little longer. For the men, whose lives are continuously devalued as they pull people from the rubble.”

Just before ending with an 11-minute moment of silence, an E-Board member denounced University administrators for their apathy toward Arab, Muslim and Palestinian students. Earlier in the semester, many multicultural organizations released statements in solidarity with Palestinians, expressing grief for all innocent lives lost and condemning University President Harvey Stenger for his response to the violence.

SJP also circulated a petition calling on the University to acknowledge Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) voices on campus. As of Dec. 12, it has received 418 online signatures. A University spokesperson did not provide a comment.

“As I’m sure you are all aware the University has been demonstrating clear favoritism toward one side while completely disregarding the Palestinian voice on campus,” the petition reads. “The University has been displaying avid neglect toward our students, refusing to acknowledge the rise in Islamophobia as well as discrimination and overall racism that has been projected toward Palestinian, brown and Muslim students, using the ‘conflict’ as a conduit.”

The United Nations General Assembly voted Tuesday to approve a nonbinding resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. It overcame 23 abstentions and 10 member states — including Israel and the United States — who voted against it.

“As of Dec. 11, it has been reported by the UN’s [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] that 18,000 Palestinians were killed in Gaza — 70 percent of whom are women and children,” SJP’s E-Board wrote. “At times like these, it’s important to remember that we shouldn’t purely politicize their deaths, but we should also honor the lives that were lost, as well as the whole family lines that have been wiped out.”