In the afternoon, dozens of students were gathered around the mock wall, engaged in earnest conversation about the impact that the actual separation wall — 85% of which is located in the West Bank — has on relations between the people of Palestine and Israel.
Instead of providing security, the separation wall exacerbates the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, said Belal Daoud, an OSU student majoring in information systems. A wall "brings a sense of anti-sentiment between people. They start to hate each other without knowing why," he said.
"Palestinians and Israelis are closer to each other than anybody imagines — in culture, in food, in everything," Daoud said. "But this wall was created to divide and breed mistrust between these two peoples. If you want this to end, let the people work together, see each other, talk to each other, live with each other. If that happens, and you allow everyone the same rights, then the extremists on both sides will just fizzle out.
"As a Palestinian, I can go all over the West Bank, and the only Israelis I will meet are soldiers," Daoud said. "As an Israeli, I can drive throughout the West Bank on Israeli-only highways, and I'll never see a Palestinian. It's apartheid to the fullest extent. Not even in South Africa were there white-only roads. You have two peoples living in the same place who don't talk to each other."
Economic sanctions are the best way to pressure Israel's government to take down the wall, Daoud said. The Committee for Justice in Palestine is hoping to put a proposal before the University Senate and the Board of Trustees by early next year, asking them to divest the university from Israel. "We're slowly getting a good coalition going with other student organizations," he said.