Students show support for peace and Israel with conviction and paint.
SHELLI LIEBMAN DORFMAN
group of University of Michigan stu-
dents showed it is the message they
convey that is important, and not nec-
essarily the venue.
When they learned that Jewish Witnesses for
Peace and Friends, a pro-Palestinian group,
would be protesting on the corner of Hill
Street and Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor
— on Yom Kippur — they dug out their old
clothes and met at a giant rock that sits at the
intersection. They turned the massive stone –
known in Ann Arbor to be a reusable, over-
sized message board — into a blue-and-white
painting of the words "Support Peace, Support
Israel," on one side and a peace sign on the
"The idea for the design on the rock
stemmed from a campaign launched [by the
Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County] sup-
porting both peace and Israel," said Samantha
Woll, 21, of West Bloomfield, who organized
the project with Paul Spurgeon, 22, of Royal
Oak and Perry Teicher, 19, of West
Paul Spurgeon, 22, of Royal Oak and Samantha Woll, 21, of West Bloomfield at the rock.
"It was important for me as a member of the
Jewish community on the day preceding Yom
frontational way," Teicher said.
"In the end, writing the letter had a much greater
Kippur to promote a message of peace as well
"On the other hand, the anti-Israel group protest-
as solidarity with the people of Israel," said Woll,
on the holiest day of the Jewish year not only
who is co-chair of the Volunteer Impact Program at
desecrated Yom Kippur but thrust their extremist
course," Soclof said. "Of all the ways one could have
University of Michigan Hillel.
view into a setting completely foreign to where a
responded to the unholy, irreverent
"The statement, 'Support Peace, Support
discussion regarding Israel should take place."
and simply distasteful actions of the
Israel,' draws an important relationship
On Yom Kippur, the protesters met at the rock
picketers, painting the rock struck me
between the two that is often overlooked.
of their weekly picketing at Beth Israel
as a wonderful, benign one."
The image on the rock was designed for
those both in agreement as well as opposition
"It was a gesture of good will on our part to the
tor of U-M Hillel Foundation, said,
to the existence of the state to make the con-
Jewish community," said Henry Herskovitz of the
"I think it was a wonderful way for
nection between supporting peace and sup-
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends. And also to
them to convey the counter-message
porting Israel simultaneously, that there is an
to the protesters that support of Israel the non-Jewish community that might find itself
intrinsic connection between these two ideas
possibly in a defensive posture defending our vigils.
is equated with support of peace. It
and not a contradiction," she said.
might say, 'How about that. They showed the
made me feel good that the students
respect the congregants were asking for by giving it
were able to mobilize so quickly right
up on Yom Kippur.' It should say something about
before Yom Kippur to express their
decency and humanity."
The plan to paint the rock was organized
To Spurgeon, "painting the rock was, if nothing
The fact the rock was innocently
through an e-mail campaign that included
else, empowering for those involved because we
painted over by a U-M fraternity —
participants of U-M Hillel.
knew we left a peaceful message. As a Catholic, I
unaware of the timing of the message
A letter composed by U-M Hillel's treasur-
feel threatened by the destruction of human life and
— was disappointing to the group,
er, Adam Soclof, 19, of Ann Arbor, began as
the loss of human dignity of both Israelis and
an informational notice about supplies that
Palestinians. I feel encouraged by Israel's legitimate
would be available to those who wanted to
democracy and concern for human rights.
paint. It became a sharing of his sentiment
" We are not going to change the world by paint-
message was painted and the protest-
about the need to be unified and to not allow
ing a rock," he concedes, "but we were able to allow
ers arrived, hundreds of people were
picketers to hamper the spiritual well being
our voices for peace to be heard."
presented with our rational and corn-
of those who would be passing by them on
mon sense message in a non-con-