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“˜Show the Love’ Israel week starts today

By Dmitri Pikman

April 25, 2004 9:00 p.m.

“Show the Love” is the theme of this year’s
Israel Independence Week at UCLA, a weeklong list of events
designed to celebrate Israel’s 56th year of statehood.

Today’s festivities in Bruin Plaza include music, dancing,
Israeli food, vendors, a DJ and even a charity kissing booth.

All the money raised from today’s events will go toward
Magen David Adom, Israel’s official emergency medical
disaster, ambulance and blood bank service.

Each day of Israel Independence Week has its own theme, with
Monday designated as celebration day.

Today’s events also include a block party from 7 to 11
p.m. at the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center on Hilgard Avenue.

The block party will feature a DJ playing Israeli music,
hookahs, vendors and Israeli food.

This is the eighth annual block party organized for Israel
Independence Week. There will be a $2 admission fee to take part in
the festivities.

Tuesday and Wednesday are culture and social action days;
Thursday is designated as a history day.

This year’s events will focus more on the celebration of
Israeli life and culture as opposed to the politics of the region,
something the week has been known to do in past years.

“Actually, the intention of the week was always to
celebrate, but the campus climate didn’t always let us
celebrate how we wanted,” said Ross Neihaus, a fourth-year
biology student and president of Bruins for Israel, one of the
groups organizing the week’s events.

“We want to make it more festive this year,” he
added.

In past years, Israel Independence Day has also been marked by
protests in support of the Palestinian people aimed at drawing
attention to those who were displaced when the state of Israel was
formed in 1948.

Mariam Jukaku, a third-year computer science student and
president of the Muslim Student Association, said while her group
has no problem with people celebrating Israeli culture, it still
might organize a protest on Bruin Plaza today.

“We’re not exactly sure about the protest yet, but
we want to make the campus know that although many people are
celebrating Israeli creation and independence, others are
mourning,” Jukaku said.

“The creation of Israel cost many people their lives and
homes,” she added.

When asked about the possibility of a protest, Neihaus said,
“This week is meant to be celebratory and not political, but
everybody has freedom of speech.”

Like previous years, the events this year are designed to
coincide with independence day celebrations in Israel, which are
happening today.

Israel Independence Day, called “Yom
Ha’atzmaut” in Hebrew, is a celebration of the end of
the British mandate in Israel and the creation of the Jewish
state.

Celebratory events this week include a presentation of the
Israeli movie, “Wisdom of the Pretzel,” and a
celebration of Israel’s technical achievements.

Thursday, as part of history day, the campus will host a lecture
and display on the history of the nation and land.

Sam Solomeni, a fourth-year psychology student and president of
the Progressive Jewish Student Alliance, said although most of this
week’s events deal with celebration, students will have the
chance to learn something new by attending the lectures and
presentations.

This is the first year PJSA will take part in planning the
Independence Week. Solomeni said logistic difficulties made his
group unable to plan events last year.

PJSA and Bruins for Israel will join the Jewish Student Union
and the Hillel Center at UCLA as organizers of this year’s
events.

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