Students and staff at Hillel stared speechlessly at the television set, immovable and unable to articulate their fear as they watched reports that Iraq had begun to bomb Israel. Over 100 students, mostly Jewish, first learned of the attacks as the evening's scheduled discussion about U.S.-Israeli relations was about to begin. It was Hillel Director of Student Activities Susan Day who told the students in the auditorium of the reports of the bombing in Tel Aviv. Hillel directors moved the television into the auditorium where students sat and waited, many sobbing as more news was reported and pictures of Israelis wearing gas masks appeared on the screen. Students rushed in and out as they called family members, desperate for more information. Late in the evening, about 50 students gathered in the chapel to pray, having spent two hours listening to the sketchy reports coming out of Israel. At the end of the night, several students worked with Day and Hillel Director Jeremy Brochin to organize a rally today at noon on College Green. Many of the students said that they have family and friends that either are living in Israel or are currently studying there. College freshman Tamara Totah said that her father's family lives in Tel Aviv. "I don't understand how we can be here in school when people are dying," Totah said. "They're so young." "All these innocent people are going to be killed for no reason," she said. "It's just so Hussein can turn it into a holy war. It's sick." Students said that they had been optimistic two nights ago when the U.S. began its attack on Iraq. They hoped that since Israel had not been bombed that first night, it would be able to avoid being engaged in war altogether. Upon hearing of last night's attack, many of the students at Hillel expressed shock. "I feel like I was lulled into a false sense of security," said Marilyn Laves, a College senior. "Now I'm petrified." "It's not that I'm not concerned about American troops, but I'm really afraid for Israel," said Laves. "I view Israel more as a homeland than the U.S. She's part of my identity, and I don't know what I'd do if she wasn't there." Shawn Ruby said that concern for friends and family in Israel will magnify the horror of the Gulf War for Jews. "Now that Israel is in the war, more young people we know are going to be involved," Ruby said. "Both our countries are at war." Although students at Hillel were saddened by the outbreak of war in the Gulf, some were angered by yesterday's immediate demonstrations for peace. "No one wants war, but I don't think this one could have been avoided," said Jill Posner, a College sophomore. "Most important is that soldiers over there are supporting their President, and we should be supporting them. As soon as it happened, students went out into the streets, like they were waiting for a cause. It's not the sixties. It's not flower power. I just pray to God they weren't chemical missiles." Students at Hillel were eager to express support of the U.S. bombing of Iraq, adding that they believe that relations between the U.S. and Israel will become stronger in the ensuing weeks. "What happened tonight underlined what Israel has to deal with every day," said Stan Schuldiner, a College sophomore. "Now the United Nations and the U.S. will have a better grasp of the predicament Israel is in." Later in the evening, students began to talk to one another about their fears. Last night's scheduled speaker, Rachel Weinberg of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, remained to answer questions and reassure the students that the Israelis are well prepared for attacks like the one last night.Comments powered by Disqus
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