More than 300 students gathered on College Green Friday in a show of solidarity and support for Israel in the wake of of Thursday's Iraqi missile attack on Israeli cities. Although many Jewish students had expressed helplessness and shock as news reports of the attacks came in Thursday night, the mood at the noontime rally was one of determination. Students pinned on blue and white ribbons, representing the colors of the Israeli flag, and yellow ribbons in honor of American troops in Saudi Arabia. Many converged around a table set up by the Hillel Foundation and signed letters to their senators and congressmen calling for continued support for Israel. "Now is the time for action, to display solidarity with Israel and to let them know that we are close to them in spirit," said College senior Elisa Mermelstein, one of the speakers at the hour-long rally. President Sheldon Hackney also spoke at the rally, showing support for the embattled nation and saying Israel had survived war before and would again. Hackney said the University would aid students during the war by providing an open forum for the expression of ideas, sharing knowledge about the situation in the Gulf, and offering personal support to the community. "It is natural that we all feel great anxiety for loved ones in the Gulf," he said. "No one has perfect control over the situation. We can only come together and support each other." Administrators and representatives from several student groups expressed a wish that students demonstrate tolerance and understanding for one another during the Gulf War. "Hussein has challenged us directly to live together despite our ideological differences," said College senior Dan Singer, a representative in the Undergraduate Assembly. "If we don't learn to live together, we will very shortly die together." Speakers also praised Israel for not launching a retaliation against Iraq for Thursday night's bombing, which many believe would destroy the international coalition that is fighting with the U.S. "We see our lives and community not as momentary events, but as a chain of tradition overcoming obstacles," said Hillel director Jeremy Brochin. Students said that they felt relieved and optimistic by the turnout at Friday's rally. "It's good to see that we can support Israel out in the open," said College junior Ari Jacobson, who is organizing an inter-faith discussion group on the Gulf war. Students and staff closed the rally with a prayer and the singing of "Hatikva," Israel's national anthem. After the rally, Sue Moss, chairperson of the Student Activities Council, asked students to continue wearing their ribbons throughout the day. "I think preventing anger on campus is the most important thing we can do," said the College senior. "We are one university and must live together in peace."Comments powered by Disqus
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