Tuesday, May 21

Pro-Israel students host alternative event to strengthen community


Natalie Charney, a fourth-year global studies student, and Brian Hertz, a third-year molecular cell, development and biology student, address supporters of the Students First! campaign, which aims to strengthen the Jewish community on campus. (Emily Cao/Daily Bruin)

Natalie Charney, a fourth-year global studies student, and Brian Hertz, a third-year molecular cell, development and biology student, address supporters of the Students First! campaign, which aims to strengthen the Jewish community on campus. (Emily Cao/Daily Bruin)


The original version of this article and the photo caption accompanying it contained multiple errors and have been changed. See the bottom of the article for more information.

Pro-Israel students gathered Tuesday night to examine how they think divestment affects pro-Israel and Jewish students and discuss ways to promote and strengthen their communities.

Several Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, including Bruins for Israel, Hillel at UCLA and J Street U, hosted the event at the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.

The event was held as an alternative to attending Tuesday night’s Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting, where the council voted on a resolution calling for the University of California to divest from American companies that some say profit from and contribute to human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza.

On Thursday, a coalition of pro-Israel organizations launched its Students First! campaign, which asked USAC to shift its focus to campus issues rather than global issues like those surrounding Israel and Palestine. The campaign had garnered about 2,000 signatures for a petition supporting its cause as of Tuesday, said Arielle Yael, a first-year undeclared life sciences student and director of public relations for Bruins for Israel.

Yael said the organization wanted to provide Jewish and pro-Israel students with an opportunity Tuesday to voice their thoughts and opinions on divestment and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in what she said was a safe and positive environment.

The event began with a memorial in honor of the people who died in attacks in Israel in the past month.

Students stood up, performed prayers for peace and healing in Hebrew and lit five yahrzeit, or memorial candles, in honor of the people who died. Each candle represented a day there was an attack in Israel.

After the memorial, students gathered into groups and voiced their opinions on divestment and the ways they feel the topic is affecting campus climate.

Natalie Charney, a fourth-year global studies student and student board president of Hillel at UCLA, said at the event Tuesday that she felt there was no positive outcome from last year’s 12-hour USAC meeting about divestment held in February. She added that she thinks the resolution and the meeting hurt campus climate, even though the resolution failed.

Charney said Tuesday’s event was meant to welcome different conversations, not just about divestment, but also about the ways some people think divestment can divide communities, and let students voice their thoughts on the conflicts that divestment stirs.

AJ Howard, a fourth-year political science student, said he attended the event in support of the Jewish community.

Howard said he was at the divestment hearing last year and is against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement because he thinks it targets Israel.

“(Divestment) is not a productive path to peace,” Howard said. “I believe in a two-state solution.”

Howard said he was disappointed to hear what he considered to be hurtful comments from both sides of the divestment debate at the February USAC meeting. He added that he thinks the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is too complex to be addressed in public comments at a USAC meeting.

At the end of the event, students were given sticky notes and encouraged to write ways they want to strengthen their communities.

Yael Zoken, a first-year undeclared life sciences student and a member of Bruins for Israel, said she was admitted to UCLA but deferred her admission to visit Israel. After spending a year there, where she studied at an advocacy school and worked with an ambulance organization, Zoken said she thinks she has an obligation to teach students about Israel and promote Jewish and pro-Israel perspectives.

The students concluded the event by discussing ideas for future events to strengthen the Jewish community on campus, such as a symposium focusing on how to achieve a more positive future for Israelis and Palestinians.

Correction: Natalie Charney and Brian Hertz are speaking in the photo. Howard said he was disappointed to hear what he believed were hurtful comments from both sides of the divestment debate, not just those against it. Students held a memorial for those who died in attacks in Israel in the past month.

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  • mxm123

    When the Hillel and its minions don’t question Israeli settlements, a policy that is nothing other than ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, they can have all of these phony baloney get togethers and prayers they want. But individually they know they are being dishonest.

    You can’t talk of “two-state solution”, “complexity” and pretend there are no such thing as Israeli settlements. Thats plain dishonest.

    • ThisIsPalestine

      J Street is adamantly anti-settlement. But anyone with a brain knows that the conflict predates settlements by a factor of decades. Settlements are nothing more than a red herring to the greater problem, which is the Palestinian belief that Israel should not exist and Jews have no right to live and self-determine in the Jewish homeland.

      • mxm123

        Actually settlements are a testament to the belief that Palestine should not exist and Palestinian have no right to live and self-determine in the Palestinian homeland.

        • ThisIsPalestine

          I’m glad you cannot deny Palestinians believe Israel should not exist. Your beloved Palestinian victims murdered four rabbis yesterday and they’ve been murdering Jews decades before “duh settlements” gave them an excuse.

          • mxm123

            Glad you cannot deny Israelis beleive Palestine should not exist. Your beloved Israeli victims lynch a bus driver and they’ve been murdering Palestinians for decades.

          • ThisIsPalestine

            You seem to be stuck parroting what I’m saying. Let me know when you actually can make a coherent argument on your own. Israeli support for the two-state solution is well known. Palestinian support for the destruction of Israel is also well known.

          • mxm123

            Israeli support for the two-state solution is well known – ie None.

          • Elon

            Actually, most Israelis and Palestinians probably both support a two state solution. They just cannot agree on the details. And the leadership is too busy hating each other and pandering to the extremes.

          • mxm123

            The settlements prove it all.

          • ThisIsPalestine

            Israel removed all the settlements from Gaza because the intolerant nation of Palestine couldn’t stand the idea of Jews on ‘their’ precious dirt. Settlements prove nothing.

          • mxm123

            And stole more land for settlements in the West Bank.

          • ThisIsPalestine

            Can’t steal what isn’t owned.

          • mxm123

            That’s what every thief claims.

          • ThisIsPalestine

            That’s what lots of non-thieves claim as well.

          • ThisIsPalestine
          • mxm123

            Is this an update on new settlements ?

          • ThisIsPalestine

            Read it and find out. Unless you’ve already reached your 6 page quota for the year.

          • mxm123

            ” large majority (78%) are concerned about the possibility that Israel will become a bi-national state.” – Because they know their govts steal land for settlements. And pretend there is a two state solution.

          • ThisIsPalestine

            Thanks for admitting you lied when you said Israelis don’t support the two state solution.

          • mxm123

            Most Israelis realize the con game their country is playing on the Palestinians.

          • ThisIsPalestine

            Congrats on your election as speaker for “most Israelis.”

          • mxm123

            When 78% know the settlements are a con, that would classify as “most Israelis”.

    • Sarah

      You do realize that if “ethnic cleansing” was the goal, there would be no more Palestinians left, right?
      You do realize that Palestinians are welcome to have dual citizenship and receive medicine and hospital care, right?

      There are numerous cases of Palestinians who are saved by the IDF

      • mxm123

        Black Africans were ethnically cleansed to Bantustan. Their populations did not decline.
        And you do realize your “dual citizenship” is untrue for millions of Palestinians. What you’re trying to con us is relevant for the few who live in Jerusalem.