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January 24, 2003 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-24

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

sophomore from Huntington Woods,
said working as part of a leadership
team whose members represented so
many different voices was definitely a
positive experience, and he looks for-
ward to working with MSA again.
Although the forum involved both
Jewish students and Muslim students,
Sussman said no conflict arose
between organizers over of Israel, an
issue frequently addressed on campus.
"Organizing a conference where you
have 800 people is a very intense expe-
rience. Even among your closest
friends the possibility for conflict is
always there because of the stress.
"We agreed to keep the conference
focused on the war in Iraq and the
issues that are directly related to it
that eliminated a lot
from the start,
of the potential disagreement or con-
flict that could have developed,"
Sussman added.
Only one conference speaker
addressed the issue of Israel and the
Palestinians directly, but some Jewish
students in attendance felt he had
approached the issue from an anti-
Israel perspective.
Freshman Becky Eisen, 19, from
Bethesda, Md., said she saw his speech
as more anti-government and anti-mil-
itary action than anti-Semitic or anti-
Israel, but said she could see where
some Jewish students could find his
approach intimidating. The situation
in the Middle East is a somewhat "hot
topic," she said, and "it can be an
intimidating atmosphere to take issue
with the speaker when you know the
majority of the people in the room
support the speaker and agree with
what he or she is saying."
But this speaker was only a small
facet of a larger conference, Eisen said.
In the big picture, she saw Jews and
Muslims building friendships and
working together.
"I saw so many instances where
Jewish people and Muslim people were
just talking and being friends and
organizing things together, and I think
that's a really positive aspect of the
conference," she said.
"In my opinion, the Jewish commu-
nity has not made nearly enough
effort to get involved in any sort of
anti-war activities. If people are wor-
ried about a Muslim presence, which I
don't think they should be, as opposed
to a Jewish presence, then they should
get the Jewish community involved."
Event organizer Mike Medow, an
AWA! member from Huntington
Woods, said that, as a Jewish student,
he felt working on the conference gave
him "better and closer relationships

with a good number of Muslim stu-
dents on this campus and students of
other backgrounds than I had previous
to this experience.
"For me, it was really powerful to
have a speaker talking from where I
was 'coming from, and be able to look
over and see my friends from MSA
reacting positively."
Meadow, 20, said Judaism has
instilled him with a commitment to
social justice, adding that the Muslim
students he worked with were com-
mitted to the same social justice goals.
He believes anti-war discussions and
action could best be approached from
an angle not limited by ethnic or reli-
gious barriers, but instead focused on
individuals with common objectives.
"I want this to be a human-to-
human issue," he said. "I think this
conference was important as far as
overcoming certain barriers between
people who wouldn't normally associ-
ate or work together — not just Jews
and Muslims, but the progressive
activist communities on the U of M
campus and a community of faith." ❑

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Jews Attend
Anti-War Rally

ashington/JTA -- Judith
Seid sees no contradic-
tion between her support
for the State of Israel and her
attending the Saturday, Jan. 18,
rally in Washington opposing a
U.S. war on Iraq.
"Israel is legitimate and required
for the Jewish people," - said Seid, but
its safety shouldn't be used as an
excuse for a strike aimed at toppling
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"You don't have to be anti-Israel to
be anti-war."
The signs carried at the rally by
Seid's group, the Baltimore Jewish
Cultural Chavurah, made the group's
feeling clear: "This War is Not About
Israel. It's About Oil" and "Secular
Jews Say No to Bush War."
With a mood characterized by
defiance and resignation, a police-
estimated 30,000 demonstrators
marched in Washington.
Before the rally, the Anti-
Defamation League released a state-
ment warning that previous anti-war
rallies had embraced Palestinian ter-
rorism, equated Zionism with
Nazism and called for the destruc-
tion of the Jewish state. El

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2003

27

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