‘Stop demolitions, build peace’: At least 15 students attend sleep-in in Roosevelt Hall

Sophomore political sciences major Hannah Richardson paints on JStreetU’s peace tapestry during the organization’s sleep-in, which took place in Roosevelt Hall Nov. 14 to 16. Photos by Jackie Cohen

At least 15 Chapman students slept in Roosevelt Hall Nov. 14 to 16 to symbolize the organizations that stay overnight at Umm al-Khair, a Palestinian village, to protect it from demolition and violence.

Chapman’s chapter of J Street U, a national college organization that is “pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, pro-peace” and advocates for a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, hosted its first sleep-in, with plans to organize them monthly, said J Street U Chapman president Taylor Onderko.

The campaign defends a two-state solution while opposing creeping annexation by the settlement movement,” said Onderko, who is a graduate student in Chapman’s international studies masters program. “J Street U Chapman (stands) with vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank like Umm al-Khair, which faces constant threats of demolition.”

The sleep-in, which was designed to educate students about the demolition of villages related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, comes days after the launch of J Street U’s national “Stop Demolitions, Build Peace” campaign, Onderko said.

The campaign pairs regional J Street U chapters with villages located on the West Bank in order to bring national attention and aid to the area. When J Street U Chapman was chosen to represent and help Umm al-Khair, the village asked for international recognition.

While symbolizing the struggles of the Umm al-Khair village, the sleep-in also gave club members and other supporters a chance to write letters to the U.S. Congress on behalf of the village, participate in a visual art campaign by signing a poster with “Stop Demolitions, Build Peace” written on it, and teach about J Street U, the village and the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Umm al-Khair, which is located in the southern West Bank, is being threatened with demolition because of its location in Israeli territory.

Onderko said that for future sleep-ins, the club will do “broader” outreach.

Brittney Souza (right), a senior political science and peace studies major, helped Sophia Barr (left), a freshman business administration and dance major, put a peace sign on the peace tapestry during the sleep-in.

“We have close connections with both Palestinian and Israeli students on campus, as well as Jewish and Muslim students,” Onderko said. “This event was open to any student interested in learning about what we are doing in J Street U, regardless of political ideology or perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The chapter hopes to host sleep-in events monthly through the rest of the academic year, said the club’s vice president, Brittney Souza.

“This is a great way to bring awareness to the village and the conflict overall,” she said.

Sophia Barr, a freshman business administration and dance major, attended the sleep-in to continue her commitment to J Street U.

“I joined the organization this year. I am half Jewish and I wanted to learn more about the present-day Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” Barr said. “The sleep-in has sparked my motivation to keep learning about the village and this topic.”

Onderko said that she believes the event was a success.

“I could not be more proud of the other J Street U Chapman students for all of the hard work they put into this demonstration,” Onderko said.


  • While this may give them a false sense of self-righteousness, it is horribly misguided. They would rather sleep in to preserve one Palestinian village rather than preserving an entire ethnic group, religion, and country from Palestine.

    Palestine has been offered by Israel a two-state solution multiple times, and they have declined it EVERY time. Palestine is not fighting Israel because they want their tiny bit of land back. They are fighting Israel because they cannot be humiliated by the Jews (e.g. Jews are still alive despite Palestine’s efforts). Palestine’s goal is to kill all Jews. Not complicated.

    To sleep in over a village is not only stupid and nonproductive, but not even supportive of the right, warranted cause.

    • Hi fellow box men! I hope we all had a good Thanksgiving. If you attend these informational sessions you’ll know there’s two sides to every conflict. This group doesn’t advocate for either side, but they do condemn the violence on both sides. Many students in this group are Jewish, but want to see the state of Israel behave in a way that is beneficial to both themselves and to their fellow humans in the region. In the past, they’ve participated in campaigns that helped to stop the demolition of other villages so I wouldn’t necessarily say they are unsuccessful. At the very least, now you get to find out about the issues that these students deem valuable and how these students are able to make this world a better place to live in while having fun! I’d call that very successful!

      • I’m not sure why you label yourself a moderate, as all you do is defend those with a mental illness (Liberals). Perhaps they should grow accustomed to sleeping on floors, as their attitudes will render them useless in the job market.

        • Actually most jobs appreciate people who can plan events, work well together, and take initiatives when they see problems! I don’t know how businesses feel about hiring bullies or people who make fun of mental illness. I was told the solution to bad ideas is not to limit their speech but to respond with more free speech so since you decide to troll the Panther with negativity, I figured I’d let the public know that not everyone at Chapman holds these inaccurate viewpoints.

          • Ahh, my mistake! I wasn’t aware the comments were bullying in nature. As a remedy, might I recommend visiting the cross-cultural center for juices and snacks? I’m sure an employer would be enthused that you could plan an event involving sleeping on a floor for an evening, or a glorified slumber party.

          • I really dislike the CCC’s snacks, but the people there are great! We’re really off topic at this point so I’ll direct you to Taylor’s comment at the bottom if you want more information 🙂

  • Israel is a shining star of freedom in a region, sadly, largely devoid of it.

    In truth, Israel is a veritable social justice Shangri-La compared to the rest of the Arab Middle East.

  • I hope the floor was a comfortable place to sleep for the night, as you successfully accomplished nothing. There is no two-state solution. There is one state, and that is the State of Israel. The cross-cultural center will have juice boxes and snacks today for those who feel victimized!! Get yours while supplies last.

  • Hey everyone who is upset about us sleeping in a building for a night: email me at jstreetuchapman@gmail.com. I’d love to grab coffee and discuss these issues face-to-face to clear up any misconceptions about J Street, our motivations, etc.

    • I don’t follow J Street or organizations that don’t support the long-term proliferation of the State of Israel, perhaps you should look into RJC, I’m sure it could help you get educated:) Best to you this holiday season!

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