Hillel rally urges campus to take stance

For the Daily
Published October 10, 2002

In a rally organized by the American Movement for Israel and the Israel-Michigan Political Affairs Committee, more than 1,000 people gathered on the steps of Dennison Hall yesterday where speakers vocalized support for the University's investments in Israel.

Referring to this weekend's Second National Student Conference on the Palestine Solidarity Movement, Joan Lowenstein, president of the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County, said, "When a group of propagandists hijacks the University of Michigan and uses its good name to promote anti-Semitism, we are under attack.

"We should not have to be here today. It should be a given that the state of Israel is secure and that Jews all over the world are safe," Lowenstein said.

"But that is not a given. Israel is under attack from terrorist groups that seek her destruction, and Jews are under attack even here."

University Regent Laurence Deitch (D-Bingham Farms) also spoke at the event regarding the divestment conference.

"This is a University where speech, no matter how objectionable, is protected. This is a place where we encourage civil debate," he said.

"I say to Jewish students in the audience that you will make a mistake if you keep this to yourselves and do not reach out," he said.

"This University community is filled with men and women of all faiths and races who will stand up against bigotry and intolerance if you give them a logical and morally compelling reason to do so. You all have the power to do that. One by one, nothing is greater than the power of one individual determined to do the right thing."

Afternoon classes at the Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit were canceled so that all 115 students could attend the rally. Michigan State University students were also present in the crowd.

The event's keynote speaker, political science Prof. Raymond Tanter, compared America's fight against terrorism to Israel's struggle with terror. "I have many Arab students, many Muslim students in general, and many Israelis and many Jewish students. It's very important that we come together in a civil way as we've done today and not hate the other side, but to keep a dialogue open with the other side.

"One of the problems is that the military capabilities that America has - which are second to none in the world - are largely irrelevant to deterring terrorists," Tanter said. "So it is also true that the great military capacity of the Israeli defense forces cannot defer terrorists. So what do you do? You go after the terrorist organizations. And what do you do to the leaders? You destroy them. You kill them."

Regarding the war on Iraq, Tanter said it was "an antidote" and that there would be no backlash. "Arab people won't go crazy, Muslim people won't go crazy. They'll roll over because they hate Saddam Hussein."

Following Tanter's speech, LSA senior Kirsten Quinzi said she was bothered by his statements.

"It seems so obvious that people should just get together and talk about these things and not kill each other. But it's funny, there's no group that advocates getting together and looking for peaceful resolutions."

Quinzi said she and Engineering senior Yair Ghitza are interested in promoting inter-group dialogue. Quinzi said student groups on this campus only represent two extreme views of the conflict, and there is no group that brings the two together.