April 17, 2002

Israeli Support Rally Draws Ithacans

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On Monday, 45 Cornellians joined over 100,000 people on the US Capital for the Israel Solidarity Rally.

Though the rally, sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was organized in just one week, it brought together supporters and well-known speakers from all over the country and the globe.

Former New York Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani said, “We’re all here today for the same purpose, to support America, to support Israel and to support all those who join in understanding that we have to end terrorism, we have to end the threat of terrorism and we have to make it clear that we’re going to stand together to accomplish that purpose.”

Throughout the rally, many connections were made by the attendees and the speakers linking the events of Sept. 11 to the events in the Middle East. Umbrellas were held up that read, “9-11 is 24/7 in Israel.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister of Israel, stated, “Americans know that Yasser Arafat is nothing more than Osama bin Laden with good [public relations].”

He continued, “My friends, I want to congratulate all of you on the largest rally in support of Israel in Israel’s history. I want to assure you that standing tall, standing proud, we will win this war. We will secure our states and we’ll preserve our liberty.”

Elie Wiesel, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, began his speech by saying, “My dear friends, this day will be remembered in the history of American Jewry. In the years to come, your children and grandchildren will hear you tell the story of this gathering and simply you will then say, ‘I was there.”

Cornell Hillel discovered on Thursday that it would be able to fund a bus for students who wanted to attend the rally.

After sending out a few e-mails to various list-servs, Ben L. Berger, the Steinhardt Hillel Jewish Campus Service Care Fellow said, “the response was great and immediate. We filled up the bus within 24 hours.”

At the rally, most of the Cornellians wore Cornell Hillel t-shirts. Berger said approaching the students, saying, “how great it was that we came from Cornell.”

Jennie Berger ’04, the co-vice president of publicity for Cornell Israel Public Affairs Committee (CIPAC) said, “It was really exciting and inspiring to be there with 100,000 people, especially since many of them came from different ends of the political spectrum and religious spectrum.”

She also pointed out, while those coming from Cornell had a wide range of opinions on the Middle East situation, the rally allowed students to “talk on the bus in ways that we wouldn’t be able to [when on campus].”

Dayana Habib ’03, who also attended the rally, said, “I think the people who went came back with a lot more enthusiasm and hope and a lot more ideas.”

Habib added that the rally helped give attendees “a clearer reason for why they’re pro-Israel,” mentioning many of the same reasons that Governor Pataki spoke about.

Pataki commented on the change in religious atmosphere of Jerusalem, “today I could go to Jerusalem as a Roman Catholic and celebrate my religion in the cathedrals in Jerusalem. Today, a Muslim could go to Jerusalem and express their religious beliefs in a Muslim mosque. Today, Jews can go to synagogues across Israel and respect and reflect their religious beliefs.”

Pataki continued, “That was not the case before Israel controlled Jerusalem. Jerusalem is protecting the religious freedoms of the great religious. The Israeli people are doing that and that is why Jerusalem must remain the eternal, undivided capital of Israel and of the Jewish people.”

Ari Stern ’05, vice president of programming for CIPAC said, “I believe that this message sent a loud and clear message to President Bush, Congressional leaders and other world heads. The Jewish people are united in support of Israel, now and forever.”

Archived article by Rachel Brenner