Several students draped Israeli flags over their shoulders as a crowd of more than 200 sang Jewish folksongs and chanted “compromise not terrorize” yesterday.
Organizers said the purpose of the rally was to make the pro-Israeli voice on campus heard.
Yesterday’s demonstration came 24 hours after Palestinian supporters silently marched through campus bound and gagged to draw attention to the suffering of Palestinians in the Middle East.
American Movement for Israel co-chair Samantha Rollinger, an LSA junior, said many students on campus feel uncomfortable speaking out in support of Israel.
“I see a lot of students on this campus who support Israel or sympathize with the cause who either feel that they are not educated on the issue enough or that it’s not their place to speak up. But clearly today’s rally gave them that opportunity,” Rollinger said.
Rollinger, like many students at the rally had ties to the region through friends or family members. One protester, Hadassah Max, a Social Work graduate student, has a sister in Israel.
“I don’t support everything the Israeli army does, but I definitely support Israel’s right to exist,” Max said.
Germanic politics Prof. Andrei Markovits, who also has friends and distant family members in Israel, said he has noticed a trend in anti-Israel support on politically active U.S college campuses.
“There is a sense that supporting Israeli is also supporting the United States, and leading American universities, such as (the University of) Michigan, Berkley and so on since the war in Vietnam have often been very critical of the United States,” Markovits said. “Basically it’s not cool to support the U.S. It’s part of a fad and right now the fad is to center around anti-American issues.”
Member of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality Emira Sendijarevic, a Business School senior and Palestinian supporter who attended the rally, said the two sides are debating over two different issues.
Sendijarevic said she agreed with the messages of the pro-Israeli rally but does not support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory – an issue that was not addressed yesterday.
According to a statement from SAFE, “attempts to divert the issue, such as today’s, do not address the true root of this conflict, being the occupation.”
There were no counter-demonstrations at yesterday’s rally, unlike the pro-Palestinian rally that took place Tuesday, when several Israeli supporters spoke out against the demonstration.
“What creates a hostile environment is when there are counter-protesters who show disrespect,” Sendijarevic said.