U. students rally on steps of Brower Commons for peace in Gaza Strip

<p>Students display signs during the "Save Gaza" rally Monday on the steps of Brower Commons. </p>

Students display signs during the "Save Gaza" rally Monday on the steps of Brower Commons. 

Clashes in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Palestine last week resonated with the University students who rallied Monday. Students represented allegiances on both sides of the conflict.

Different student groups took to the steps of Brower Commons on the College Avenue campus throughout the day in support of peace in this area. Rutgers Hillel, Chabad and Christians United For Israel gathered at noon to support the Jewish state of Israel.

Jews and Christians with heritages from across the globe formed the coalition, chanting in support of their cause as passersby signed their petition for peace, said Raffi Mark, president of Rutgers Hillel, a Jewish group on campus.

Hillel social chair Laura Faiwiszewski said her support for Israel motivated her to attend Monday’s rally.

“I believe Israel has a right to defend itself as a country,” said Faiwiszewski, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. “One girl that I know slept with sneakers on last night in case she had to run to a bomb shelter.”

Faiwiszewski said she thinks the rally is a great cause for students to express their views.

“I hope more people come and show their support for Israel — and for Palestine — for both to live in peace,” she said.

Jessica Loren, Chabad president and an Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy senior, said the groups came together for the sake of peace in Israel and to help find a solution.

Mark, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said the main goal of the rally is to have a public presence and show support for Israel.

“Children should be allowed to grow up in an environment safe from rockets. And that playgrounds should be a place where kids can feel safe and not feel a need for bomb shelters to be close by,” he said.

Zeldin, Faiuiszewski and Mark all condemned the actions of Hamas — the government in Gaza — during the rally.

The pro-Israel rally lasted two hours and attracted about 50 people, including students and supporters from around New Jersey.

Another rally, organized by the University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, was held in the evening in opposition to Israel’s air strikes in Gaza on Nov. 13, which has led to the deaths of more than 100 Palestinians.

More than three hundred attendees displayed signs on the steps of Brower Commons at the pro-Palestine rally, which featured a vocal performance and several speakers.

“I’m here today because there has been over 100 murders regarding the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. ... I helped organize this in the sense of putting it together online via social media,” said Sherif Ibrahim, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

Ibrahim said he does not represent the opinions all of 300-plus people who attended the pro-Palestine rally in regard to the actions of the Palestinians and the rally’s support of them.

Ibrahim said he believes the Palestinian government is fractured and that Hamas did not start the war.

He said the power structure of this conflict is what Palestinians struggle with.

“The Palestinian government is a lot of times incorrectly blamed for a lot of things they are not responsible [for],” Ibrahim said.

Khaled Zayed, administrator of the Facebook group for New Jersey for Palestine, said he believes the heart of the problem is embedded in Israel’s actions.

“It’s going to end when Israel’s occupation of the territory ends,” he said. “I’m just a human being that supports justice for all.”

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