Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Israel-Palestine tensions increase around UTSA

Dustin Vickers

As current events escalate in the Middle East, the unrest has manifested into several demonstrations in support of either Israel or Palestine that have occurred on or around campus. 

Starting around 6 a.m. on April 15, a protest halted traffic on Loop 1604 eastbound and blocked both entrances on Valero Way near the west parking lot as part of international movement A15 economic blockade. The purpose of the protest, as listed on the website, was to “identify and blockade major choke points in the economy, focusing on points of production and circulation with the aim of causing the most economic impact. There is a sense in the streets in this recent and unprecedented movement for Palestine that escalation has become necessary. There is a need to shift from symbolic actions to those that cause pain to the economy.”

Blockades also took place in over 50 other cities, including London, Seoul, Johannesburg, Adelaide and many cities in the U.S., such as Philadelphia, where 68 people were arrested. 

In San Antonio, several police officers oversaw protestors as they chained themselves together and lay on the ground to block cars from entering the road. Others held handwritten signs that read “No genocide on a dime – Let Gaza Live,” and “If I must die, you must live to tell my story,” a quote from Dr. Refaat Alareer, a Gazan professor killed in an Israeli bombardment in December. A protestor at the San Antonio blockade shared her frustrations with the city on an Instagram reel posted by user al7ayatlife

“I am here because I’ve been doing the other work, I’ve been calling my senators. I have talked to congressmen; I spoke to even city council, and they do nothing. They still have not called for a ceasefire. They need to take us seriously as their constituents. It’s time that the citizens of every single major city in the United States step up to the call and start economically blockading their city, it’s the only way we’re going to affect change.”

According to the affiliated group Yanaguana Tejas, Valero Energy was targeted because it is “the main supplier of military-grade jet fuel (JP-8) to the Israeli military. Between 2020-2024 the company has sent every other month a JP-8 tanker from its BIll Greehey refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, to Israel.”

Roadrunners took to Reddit to discuss the situation under a post titled, “If you’re gonna protest, don’t be a d-ck to your peers.” User Rodger_Dodger20 commented, “And thank you, protestors, for making this chronically ill person have to walk an extra 10 minutes instead of being able to take a shuttle.”

In the early hours of April 8, a 21-year-old UTSA student was caught defacing the McKinney Humanities building, leaving graffiti of profane language aimed at the Israeli Defense Forces, another sharing the civilian death toll in Gaza and spray-painting the Palestinian flag over some posters. The suspect tagged the building, pillars and sidewalk.

After a brief chase by UTSA PD to the bus oval, the student was arrested on a Class A misdemeanor of Evading Arrest and a State Jail Felony of Graffiti — Church or School charges. Court records show the suspect was released on bond. He is also subject to university disciplinary action. 

President Eighmy condemned the act and said, “There is no room for this behavior at UTSA, and we will not tolerate the disruption of campus activities or damage to university property. While we encourage free speech and the free exchange of ideas, we expect our students, faculty and staff to come to campus each day with a spirit of respect for each other.”

The Party for Socialism & Liberation San Antonio (PSL) posted a statement on Instagram defending the student and criticizing UTSA’s “hypocrisy.”

“According to UTSA police, the student has been charged with a ‘State Jail Felony,’ punishable by two years in jail. That means, for allegedly spray-painting ‘anti-Israeli graffiti’ on campus, the student is being charged in the same penal category as someone accused of criminally negligent homicide. PSL San Antonio is outraged at the attempt to heavily and unjustly prosecute an alleged act of peaceful protest aimed at denouncing the greatest crime of all according to international law, the state crime of genocide.” 

Another incident of graffiti was anti-semitic phrases written in Arabic on a dry-erase board in the JPL on March 4. Allegedly, the phrases read, “I hate Jews” and “Jews are rich, greedy and fat,” as reported by San Antonio Hillel, a non-profit Jewish empowerment group.

SA Hillel responded to the situation on their Instagram: “We are saddened that the horrific rise in antisemitism has reached our beloved campus. There is no room at UTSA for this kind of targeted hatred. We commend UTSA’s immediacy in addressing the issue, investigating the incident, and swiftly getting the hateful antisemitic messaging erased.” There has been no update on the status of the student responsible. 

SA Hillel hosted the Israel Exposition outside the Student Union on March 26 to promote knowledge about Israel and its residents. The event allowed visitors to learn about the nation’s demographics, military and humanitarian efforts, food, technology and arts. Last semester, the organization displayed the names of kidnapped Israelis on chairs on the lawn facing the Sombrilla to draw attention to the hostages.

To date, the university’s only statement in relation to the conflict was released shortly after the Oct. 7 attacks on Oct. 12. 

“During this uncertain and challenging time, please check in on each other and make sure those around you have the support they need as we attempt to come to grips with this horrific violence. We will continue to share support resources and update the campus community as necessary during this crisis.”

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About the Contributors
Faith Kouadio
Faith Kouadio, Staff Writer

Faith (she/her) is a public health major with a minor in information systems. Despite choosing to pursue studies in these specific fields, she enjoys writing and communications and hopes to incorporate them as a key part of her career. She believes in an increasingly information-heavy world, everyone has a duty to responsibly disseminate information – contributing to the Paisano is her small way of accomplishing this.

If you ask Faith what movie she saw last night, she will have a new answer every time. Other than watching movies, she enjoys listening to and collecting music and traveling. Having grown up in the Toronto region, Texas is one stop from the many places she has called home. After her anticipated graduation in Spring 2024, she’s excited to see where life takes her next.

Dustin Vickers
Dustin Vickers, Photo Editor
Dustin (He/Him) is a third-year medical humanities major with a concentration in health careers. After graduation, he plans on attending medical school in hopes of becoming an emergency radiologist. When he’s out of the classroom, he is helping run the swim club with his co-president, blasting some sick beats, or looking for a good spot to grub.

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