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Pro-Israel organizations host rally to show stance, unify Jewish community

ASU PD arrested a counter-protester suspected of causing criminal damage to an ASU sign at the encampment last Friday, according to an ASU Police spokesperson

Pro-Israel protesters at University Drive and College Avenue on Sunday, May 5, 2024 in Tempe.

On Sunday morning, ASU student organizations held a rally in solidarity with Israel and Jewish students on campus at the intersection of University Drive and College Avenue.

The gathering was organized by ASU student organizations Chabad, Olami and Hillel.

Rabbi Shmuel Tiechtel said that in light of recent protests against Israel, students wanted to unite at this rally and demonstrate their stance on the conflict overseas. 

There were a few groups of counter-protesters during the event. Some held banners and Palestinian flags on the same side of the street as the pro-Israel rally, but many took up space the opposite side of the street to demonstrate their views.

ASU and Tempe Police were present at the scene. ASU PD officers arrested a counter-protester unaffiliated with ASU early on at the event. Jerry Gonzalez, an ASU Police spokesperson, wrote in an email that the counter-protester was suspected of causing criminal damage to the ASU sign in front of Old Main last Friday night, leading to their arrest.

READ MORE: 'ASU Liberated Zone' hosts press conference, condemns treatment of student protesters

Tempe Police on bikes at pro-Israel rally at University Drive and College Avenue on Sunday, May 5, 2024 in Tempe.

The rally largely consisted of speeches from students and religious leaders. There was also prayer, singing and dancing, as well as a short march to University Bridge.

"We're gathered here today to express our Jewish pride, sing Jewish songs and show our brothers and sisters in Israel that they are not alone today or any other day," said Ariel Feffer, an incoming senior studying political science and psychology.

READ MORE: 'Jewish joy': ASU Hillel emphasizing sense of belonging and normalcy

Feffer is a senator-elect for Undergraduate Student Government in Tempe and the incoming president of Chabad at ASU

"I stand before you not as a leader, but as a fellow student who has been deeply affected by the alarming rise of antisemitism that we've been seeing on U.S. college campuses," said Feffer. 

Rabbi Shmuel Tiechtel alongside ASU incoming senior Ariel Feffer speaking at pro-Israel rally at University Drive and College Avenue on Sunday, May 5, 2024 in Tempe.

The rally grew to around 100 people. It consisted of families, college students and external community members.

"We shouldn't be ashamed to celebrate our nationhood and our people," said Rabbi Yaakov Cahnman. "The land of Israel and the people of Israel are intrinsically connected."

Some attendees came from out of state to offer support for Israel. Daniel Botteh said he was visiting from Los Angeles when he heard about the gathering on social media.

"I happened to see on Instagram that there was such a beautiful rally, so I decided to come show support," said Botteh. "We're just trying to spread love."

The pro-Israel protesters sang and danced to traditional Jewish songs before walking east toward University Bridge. At the top of the bridge, they waved Israeli flags and signs, as passing cars honked.

Pro-Israel protesters rally across University Bridge on Sunday, May 5, 2024 in Tempe.

The group crossed over the bridge, eventually marching back across the street to where the event began. 

Like many of the protesters, Aleeza Feffer, an incoming junior studying kinesiology, said she came to show that "love is stronger than hate."

"I'm just here to show Jewish pride and support Israel and in light of all the hate we've been facing on campus to show that we're not gonna back down," said Feffer. "We're gonna come back and show them we're not scared to be Jewish."

Across the street, Marina Thomas, a counter-protester expressed her want to raise awareness and educate the public about colonization. She compared what is happening in Palestine to her own experience as an indigenous person in Arizona.

"I don't want to see Palestinians living under what we're living today. Like we're on our land but we're invisible and I don't want that for them," said Thomas. "It doesn't matter where you come from, as long as you respect and acknowledge whose house you're in. And we have to do that because as humans, we're failing our planet and we're failing our future."

The protesters and counter-protesters dispersed peacefully around 2 p.m.

Edited by George Headley, Sophia Ramirez and Alexis Heichman

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