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Hillel encourages students to support peace at rally

October 24, 2000
Supply chain management sophomore Chad Bishop, left, communication junior Matt Leebove, middle, and zoology junior Lisa Bartner listen to a speaker during the pro-peace rally held at the Rock on Farm Lane Monday.

Supporters of peace in the Middle East gathered Monday night at the rock on Farm Lane for a nonpolitical rally to speak out against the violence that has claimed dozens of lives.

The event, sponsored by the Hillel Jewish Student Center, attracted about 50 people from the university community. Cindy Hughey, the executive director of Hillel, said the event was organized to give students on campus the opportunity to express the need for peace.

“It doesn’t matter what differences people have with each other or their religions,” she said. “Peace is in the best interest of all mankind.”

The event was aimed at taking a pro-peace stance and not taking sides, Hughey said.

“We just want to express our sorrow for the events that are taking place in the Middle East,” she said.

The rally also offered the opportunity for the participants to mourn the loss of more than 120 lives that have been taken so far amidst the violence that has raged for the past three weeks.

Pre-law freshman Jilnar Mansour, wearing all-black clothing, mourned the citizens that have been killed. She spoke about the importance of people being informed of overseas issues.

“We need to have new knowledge and feelings for each other,” she said. “We need to declare the right for peace for all people.”

Two professors from the James Madison College, Ken Waltzer and Michael Rubner, also spoke at the rally. They expressed the need to end the violence.

“We need to get out the word that we have had enough of this blood and tears,” Rubner said.

There was also a petition circulated that will be sent to Michigan’s congressional representatives. It asks for President Clinton to continue the process of peace talks and call for a cease-fire.

Penny Dalin, a deaf education senior, attended the rally because she takes a pro-peace stance on the issue.

And she’s upset at what she has seen so far.

“It makes me so unhappy to see that people are dying everyday,” Dalin said. “I just want to see a peaceful end in this situation.”

But Josh Hearshen attended the rally for another reason. The social relations senior said he simply wanted to observe what was going on - and he doesn’t feel that peace is a realistic goal.

Much like the United States, “I stand 100 percent behind Israel at all times,” Hearshen said. “I don’t think peace is an option at this point.”

Hearshen said it is very sad that the Hillel Jewish Student Center isn’t backing Israel. The center has refused to take sides.

And Hearshen said he feels as a Jewish organization, it needs to be pro-Israel.

But members of Hillel said they made it clear to all participants they wanted to support peace.

“We want to put aside our differences and serve as an example that we can make a call for peace that surpasses politics and religious differences,” said Halie Soifel, coordinator of the rally. “This rally proves there is hope for the future and our unwillingness to give up.”

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