Submitted by Texas Hillel
Texans For Israel students show their solidarity with Israel.
Texans for Israel, Texas Hillel's award-winning pro-Israel student group held a Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Rally Jan. 22 on the West Mall of The University of Texas campus to proactively address the reasons behind Israel's recent operation in Gaza.
Moments before the rally started, a large group of pro-Palestinian students arrived waiving Palestinian flags, anti-Israel posters, and chanting a number of mantras, including “No Justice, No Peace,” and “Don’t Celebrate, Apartheid State.”
The rally began with a speech from Texans for Israel student leader Ben Freed. He discussed more than just the last month and a half, but the past eight years. He focused on proportionality, both in terms of Israel’s response and a desire for peace. He reminded the crowd that the rally was in support of a “proportional peace…one in which both sides are able to live without fear.”
“No one has a monopoly on peace,” said Freed. “When there is a peace [in the Middle East], it will be two sided, and that will be an enduring peace.”
Freed was followed by Texas Hillel Executive Director Rabbi David Komerofsky and Aaron Friedman, an associate with the Israeli Consulate General in Houston. Both spoke of the recent incursion as a defensive measure to protect its citizens.
“Israel is a free and democratic state,” said Komerofsky. “Like the US, Israel has freedom of speech and the right to protest; this rally is for peace for all peoples. We feel for the victims in Gaza and know that their suffering is the result of their leadership, not Israel’s. The Palestinians deserve honest leadership, and peace will only come when Palestinians are as free to question their leaders as Israelis are to question theirs.”
Throughout the rally, anti-Israel protestors chanted and yelled, going out of their way to be as disruptive as possible and making it very difficult to hear the speakers. Some even brought posters accusing Israel of committing genocide, acting like Nazis, and practicing state run terrorism.
Noah Jaffe, a UT student, followed Komerofsky and Friedman. Jaffe was chosen to represent students recently back from Texas Hillel’s Birthright-Israel trip. He encouraged all in attendance not to be pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, but pro-peace, and made numerous recommendations as to how the UT campus can contribute.
“Everyone is here because of a similar dream for Israeli and Palestinian peace. Instead of treating this situation like a chess game and fighting for position, we need to treat it like an urgent crisis in which thousands of lives are at stake, because that is the reality.”
The rally drew to a close with the Prayer for the State of Israel, read first in Hebrew by student Nathan Rafaelov and followed in English by student Ben Trotter, former president of the University Democrats. The rally appropriately concluded with the singing of Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem.
“The outstanding students of Texas Hillel’s Texans for Israel program should be commended for putting on this rally,” said Texas Hillel Director for Institutional Advancement Scott Kammerman. “These future leaders are taking it upon themselves to carry out the Mitzvah of protecting Israel in the face of abhorrent commentary on what is too often the forgotten battlefront…the college campus.”
Texans for Israel does not receive financial assistance from any local, state or national pro-Israel group. It is solely funded by Texas Hillel and the programs, activities, events and speakers are all student initiated. To support these students or for additional information, please visit www.texashillel.org or call 512-476-0125.