Waving Israeli flags and signs demanding “Peace Now” and “Arafat, You Too Must Stop The Violence,” students gathered on Ho Plaza at noon yesterday to demonstrate solidarity with Israel.
The rally was sponsored by the Cornell Israel Public Affairs Committee (CIPAC), Cornell Hillel and the Cornell Center for Jewish Living.
From the podium, Rabbi Jeff Sultar of Cornell Hillel emphasized the importance of Jerusalem to the Jews.
Following Sultar’s speech, Daniel Kasell ’02, president of CIPAC, chastised Arafat for using violence rather than negotiations to accomplish political goals. “The Cornell Israel Public Affairs Committee would encourage both sides to lay down their weapons and return to the negotiating table,” he said.
Matthew Cohen ’03, the Cornell liaison to the American-Israeli Political Action Committee, also spoke, encouraging students to get involved in pro-Israel activism by asking their representatives to support Israel.
“It is so essential for students to get involved in the political process; you guys can really make a difference,” he said.
Passerby Tim Uschold ’02 said the rally prompted him to consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more closely. “I don’t know enough about the situation to take sides,” he said. “But I think the rally’s speakers made some excellent points. All in all, it was a nice show of support for Israel.”
Other students considered the rally from the Palestinian perspective. Omer Bajwa grad, president of Muslim Educational and Cultural Association, said, “It’s very understandable that Israeli and Jewish students would want to show their support for Israel, but it is important to remember that justice is a precondition for peace. Both sides must look at who is responsible.”
Umair Khan ’03, who belongs to MECA and the Arab Club, expressed concern about a poster that called for Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yessir Arafat to calm rioters.
“Arafat is in a very delicate position,” he said. “He does not have the political power needed to stop the violence.”
Khan also objected to literature distributed at the rally that accused the Palestinian government of offering cash compensation to the families of children who die fighting against Israelis. “I don’t think anybody would risk their child’s life for money,” he said.
In response, Kasell defended the credibility of the literature. “We got the information from the Jerusalem Post, which is certainly a valid source,” he said.
As the rally closed, Yoel Oz ’04 led the crowd in singing Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem.
CIPAC will meet Thursday to discuss the rally and plan further action on Thursday. MECA, the Pakistani Students Organization and the Arab Club will hold a meeting today to discuss the Israeli conflict.
Archived article by Keren Lerner