Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine student groups share goal of peace

Members of Sun Devils for Israel paint a window at the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus for Homecoming 2011. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Rauch)

Two student-led groups at ASU hope for peace in the wake of Israel’s cease-fire understandings with Hamas in Gaza.

Sun Devils for Israel President Melissa Rauch, who studied for six months in Jerusalem, said it is important for both sides to uphold the agreement.

The group is not an anti-Palestine organization, the journalism senior said.

“The cease-fire is great, but I don’t know if the decision is just temporary,” she said. “We are pro-peace as long as nobody is firing rockets.”

SDI will hold a rally Wednesday on the Tempe campus to promote peace and coexistence, while also raising support for Israel.

The group, which has partnered with Friends of the Israel Defense Forces for the event, will walk through campus carrying signs and Israeli flags.

It will raise funds to send toiletries for IDF soldiers.

“Some of the (soldiers) are 18-year-old Americans, flying there to fight for Israel,” Rauch said. “It’s a worldly cause.”

SDI is working to raise $2,500 for one Israeli and one Arab student to attend school in Israel as part of the Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel Hand in Hand’s coexistence program.

Hand in Hand has four bilingual campuses in Israel.

SDI stands by Israel and its decision to carry on hostilities with Hamas for eight days, said Rauch.

“Almost every country would defend themselves,” she said. “It’s been stated that America supports Israel.”

President Barack Obama stated on Nov. 18 that America would continue its support of Israel.

Students for Justice in Palestine President Aman Aberra said the announcement was extremely one-sided.

“The statement effectively turns Americans against Palestine,” he said. “The fact is there is a massacre that is being paid by our tax dollars.”

SJP and the Arizona Chapter of the Coalition of Arabs and Muslims in America organized two marches in support of Gaza this month.

Aberra, a biomedical engineering sophomore, said the marches showed solidarity for those who have suffered in Gaza and put pressure on America’s support of Israel.

Peace and coexistence is a goal that can be achieved only if the occupation ends, Aberra said.

“It’s easy to say you want peace when you’re in privilege,” he said. “There’s no peace without justice.”

The cease-fire was necessary, but SJP’s stance has not changed, Aberra said.

“We were happy it happened, but it does have consequences,” he said. “It makes it seem like the occupation is over, when in reality this means just one round of Israeli attack is over.”

SJP spokeswoman Shifa Al-khatib said the siege in Gaza continues even after the cease-fire.

“I worry that when people heard about the cease-fire they thought everything was okay,” she said. “The occupation is still going.”

Peace should be the ultimate goal, Al-khatib said.

“I believe there should be one, not two states,” she said. “Coexistence is possible if everybody is granted equal rights.”

The events at Gaza have brought attention to the issue, Al-khatib said.

SJP has received numerous emails from people who are interested in joining the group, as well as media outlets that want to discuss the events that occurred in Gaza.

“Around 10 people have approached me personally,” Al-khatib said. “I don’t mind talking with anybody.”


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