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October 18, 2002 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-10-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

This Week

Cover Story

Advance Response

Ann Arbor Jewish community shows solidarity prior to "divestment conference."


Special to the Jewish News


ass flyers, multiple e=
mails and two weeks of
selling "Wherever we
stand, We stand with
Israel" blue T-shirts on the University
of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus led
to two events Oct. 10, in advance of
the "Second National Student Confer-
ence on the Palestinian Solidarity
During the day of Oct. 10, more
than 1,000 students held a vigil on the
steps of U-M's Dennison Hall. It was
midterm week for many, but still they
came, wearing their blue T-shirts to
protest the conference, which promot-
ed divestment from American compa-
nies and universities doing business
with Israel.
That evening, about 100 students
and Jewish community members gath-
ered at U-M Hillel to hear Michael
Bar Zohar — Emory University pro-
fessor, former Israeli Knesset member
and David Ben-Gurion biographer —

field felt the mix of stu-
speak about the dilemma
dents and community
of a democracy struggling
members at the evening's
against terrorism.
event sent a very impor-
The evening crowd was
tant message.
determined to resist anti-
"The pro-Israel commu-
Semitism, said Paul
nity at this university is
Berkowitz of Ann Arbor.
made up of students and
His purpose in bringing
community members. It's
son Harry, 13, and
something that is very sig-
daughter Madeline, 15,
nificant to the lives of not
to hear Bar Zohar were to Michael Bar Zohar
only University of Mich-
show his support and
igan students but also to
instill in his children a
Ann Arbor community members,"
love for Israel.
Woll said.
Berkowitz said he planned to attend
"By coming here, they were able to
other weekend events on campus "to
show that these are larger. issues than
provide a balance to the conference
just a debate on campus," she said.
and to ensure that there's a voice
These are real issues. These are inter-
which is speaking the truth" against
national issues."
falsehoods and hatred.
Woll said the Oct. 10 events were
The Oct. 10 events were important,
about taking a positive approach
said Samantha Woll, 19, co-chair of
through education and community, as
U-M's Israel Michigan Public Affairs
opposed to the negative approach she
Committee, because they emphasized
felt was the focus of the divestment
a strong pro-Israel community voice
and a desire for further understanding
"Our response to the organizers of
of the situation in Israel.
the divestment conference is that
The sophomore from West Bloom-

while they have chosen a strategy of
destruction, we have chosen a strategy
of construction.
"We embody the values of democra-
cy, peace and freedom and by coming
together as a strong community we're
working towards a peaceful co-exis-
tence of Israel and Palestine. We sup-
port the right of both peoples to self-
Bar Zohar stressed the importance
of information and being informed.
"The picture today is that Israel is
occupying the West Bank and oppress-
ing the Palestinians. People forget that
two years ago, we were willing to give
almost all of the West Bank to the
Palestinians to form their own state,"
he said.
"Our only goal is to go to peace nego-
tiations and obtain an amiable divorce
— let them live in their own state and let
us live in our own Jewish state."
Eric Bukstein, formerly of Pitts-
burgh and governing board chair of
U-M Hillel, said the day was planned
strategically by first having a vocal
rally and then bringing in a lecturer.
"This has a more educational tone,"
Bukstein said. "We brought in a dis-
tinguished lecturer to talk about the -
issues, to help us deal with the issues
on our own as far as where we stand,
why we stand there and the nuances
for being pro-Israel." . ❑

A Blue-Chip investment


Student Intern


tll a.m. Oct. 10, my fel-
low students of the Jewish
Academy of Metropolitan
Detroit and I took part in
a pro-Israel rally on the University of
Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.
The event's main focus was to con-
demn calls by members of the
"Second National Student Confer-
ence on the Palestine Solidarity
Movement" for divestment from
Israel. The conference, whose anti-
Semitic views stretched so far as to
compare the State of Israel to South
African apartheid, included guest
speakers Sami al-Arian, Hatem
Bazian and Hussein Ibish — individ-
uals who have espoused anti-Jewish
We stood in silence at the pro-
Israel rally, a sea of blue-and-white T-
shirts, waving handmade signs on



tunities to affect social
wooden stakes as we listened
to the guest . speakers. Each
It was an awe-inspiring
approached the podium
event, which demonstrated
with a different message.
the power of individuals
One spoke of the need to
united through collective
educate the ignorant
purpose. The rally was com-
through words of peace; to
posed primarily of students
denounce the vicious anti-
— many of them not yet
Semitic tactics employed by
m G ardin
out of high school.
others. Another spoke in
When it was•over, chorus-
favor of human rights and
es of "Am Yisrael Chai"
condemned terrorism.
They all addressed the need for Jew swept through the densely packed
and non-Jew alike to come together
Spotting a group of students and
to express solidarity with Israel
one of my teachers at the censer of
through rallies and conferences.
the crowd, dancing in a circle with
I listened with rapt attention as
an Israeli flag, I handed my sign to
Samantha Woll, co-chair of the Israel
the mother of a friend and moved
Michigan Public Affairs Committee
forward to join them. Close to the
and organizer of the event, spoke for
circle, I stopped and watched from
unanimity in our support of Israel. I
an arm's length away, not wishing to
was fascinated with one individual's
ability to make a difference. Over the intrude upon the magic of the
next few years, many of my peers
A few moments passed and then a
and I may encounter similar oppor-

dancer caught my eye, beckoning me
to join with them. Jubilantly, I threw
myself into the circle of people unit-
ed in laughter, peoplehood and a
common sense of purpose.
The Israeli flag rose high in our
hands as we continued to sway_ to the
songs which embodied our love for
the Jewish nation. The impact of one
had become the impact of many.
As surely as the microphone had
echoed the words of each speaker in
loud and clear tones, this experience
has instilled within me a simple
imperative: to invest in peace, invest
in unity, invest in Israel.

On Oct. 10, Rabbi Lee Buckman,
head of Jewish Academy of
Metropolitan Detroit, led about
100 JAMD students at the pro-
Israel rally in Ann Arbor.

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