The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

James Lindsay speaks at an event hosted by Turning Point USA at Pitt on Tuesday evening at Alumni Hall.
Turning Point speaker James Lindsay criticizes ‘queer theory,’ draws protest
By Briana Bindus and Khushi Rai 9:17 am

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

James Lindsay speaks at an event hosted by Turning Point USA at Pitt on Tuesday evening at Alumni Hall.
Turning Point speaker James Lindsay criticizes ‘queer theory,’ draws protest
By Briana Bindus and Khushi Rai 9:17 am

Different student groups rally in Schenley for Israel, Palestine in wake of recent attacks

Israel+Peace+Rally+participants+gather+in+a+circle+draped+in+Israeli+flags+to+sing+prayers+in+Schenley+Plaza+on+Monday+evening.+
Amaya Lobato | Assistant Visual Editor
Israel Peace Rally participants gather in a circle draped in Israeli flags to sing prayers in Schenley Plaza on Monday evening.

Over 100 students rallied at Schenley Plaza on Monday afternoon in support of Israel following a series of recent attacks by militant group Hamas near Gaza.

As of Monday evening, at least 900 people were killed with more than 2,500 others injured in Israel as a result of the Hamas attacks, and at least 687 Palestinians were killed and 3,726 wounded as a result of Israel’s counter air strikes on Gaza. Hamas has also taken approximately 100 civilians and soldiers hostage, according to Israeli officials.  

For Alitza Hochhauser, a junior psychology and anthropology double major and president of Chabad at Pitt, the fear that her loved ones are potentially in danger makes offering support to those around her important. 

“I have many friends and family members over in Israel right now, many of [whom] I had to text Saturday morning to ask if they were still alive, if they were missing, just hoping that they were still there,” Hochhauser said. “I think this is a profound experience for the community, [and] we want to create a safe environment for Jewish people to come and lean on other people who are going through the same emotions of possibly losing a loved one, their loved one being taken as hostage, or their loved ones being sent to the front lines.”

The escalation comes after decades of tension that dates back to Israel’s founding in 1948. Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, Israel has advanced into Palestinian-designated territory under international law, specifically in Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas, an insurgent organization that does not officially represent the Palestinian people, is the main arbitrator of the recent attacks against Israel. 

Following the Hamas attacks, the Israeli government also announced a “total blockade” on Gaza, which will restrict water, electricity and food into the territory. 

A group of students express their support for Palestine in reaction to the Israel Peace Rally in Schenley Plaza on Monday evening. (Amaya Lobato | Assistant Visual Editor)

In response to the rally in support of Israel, students in support of Palenstinians took to Schenley Plaza as well around 7 p.m. Holding up the Palestinian flag, the group chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the occupation’s got to go.” 

Deena Eldaour, a 2023 graduate of The Ohio State University who currently takes classes at Pitt, said those who support the Palestinian cause believe in the value of all human life, regardless of an individual’s beliefs.

“What matters for us, honestly, is to acknowledge that human life, whatever it is, matters,” Eldaour said. “The cost of human life should not be something to be played with, it’s something that we feel is very special. Most of the people gathered here are of Muslim faith, and in Muslim faith, we value life, whichever ‘side’ [that life] is.”

Eitan Weinkle, a senior political science major and president of Student Coalition for Israel at Pitt (SCIP), believes that the recent attacks on Israel are fueled by hate alone.

“There’s really only one reason for it, and it’s hate,” Weinkle said. “This was the kind of hate that causes me to create an exit plan for every synagogue that I go into. This is the kind of hate that makes us feel unsafe even with so much security around us and the best intentions of those who want to protect us. This is not politics, this is not anything other than the pure unadulterated terrorism that we saw.”

Miranda Held, a first-year majoring in physics, hoped an in-person event in support of Israel would be organized after seeing some “hateful” messages online.

“I had been seeing people talk online and it was very hateful,” Held said. “I wanted to say something, but talking online is kind of like talking into a void, whereas here there’s actual people and we are saying something together.”

Weinkle said it is upsetting to receive no response from the University regarding the recent attacks.

“It is unfortunate to see our university fail to act in times like this,” Weinkle said. “When we see our friends, our family members dragged through the streets, mutilated, tortured, kidnapped into Gaza by terrorists, the University says nothing.”

Israel Peace Rally participants huddle with arms around each other to sing prayers in Schenley Plaza on Monday evening. (Amaya Lobato | Assistant Visual Editor)

Rebecca Swartz, a junior bioengineering major, attended the rally in support of her brother, Marc Rubin, who is currently fighting on the front lines as a tank driver in the Israel Defense Forces. Swartz said she is accepting donations made for Rubin through Chabad, which will go towards supplies, clothing, tactical equipment, food and water for Israeli soldiers.

“I’m supporting him and his unit, and they are accepting donations for supplies, so I’m here to help,” Swartz said.

Raafay Khan-Afridi, a sophomore political science and economics double major, said he attended the counter-rally to show his support for Palestine. 

“I think what’s been happening in Palestine is awful and despicable to the Palestinian people, and I think that while I may not agree with some of the tactics people have used to retaliate against Israel, I think that the occupation has left them no choice,” Khan-Afridi said. “They feel frustrated, they feel as if they have no choice, and they feel as if this is the only option, and I feel that we need to show the support that they need in these times from all across the world.”

A student in support of Israel, who wished to remain anonymous, said those who attended the Israel rally had peaceful intent.

“We are here to support Israeli civilians, families and victims,” they said. “We don’t want to hurt anyone, we want to be a free people in our ancestral homeland. [The events in Israel] were a terrorist attack on the Jewish people, and it should be covered as such, so that’s why we’re here.”

About the Contributor
Anna Kuntz, Staff Writer