Rally against Hamas brings IU students and faculty together for solidarity

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: Rabbi Levi Cunin, of Chabad on Campus, right, greets an Indiana University student during a pro-Israel rally at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rallyd was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

by Skip Daley, South Central Indiana News Network

More than 150 IU students and faculty members braved the nearing 90-degree temperatures on Thursday afternoon to join with community members at Indiana University in an assembly of solidarity against the terrorism of Hamas.

Showalter Fountain at the IU Bloomington Campus was the location for the 2pm gathering which was co-hosted by Chabad at Indiana University and Günther Jikeli, Associate Director of the Institute for the Contemporary Study of Antisemitism.

Meanwhile, just about a half-mile down the road, more than 40 tents lined Dunn-Meadow with an “anti-Israeli encampment”, as described by a self-claimed co-founder of the protest. This week-long affair has gained plenty of attention after State Police were called in to enforce IU Policy regarding the use of tents, structures, and signage at the public space, which is in violation of newly written IU policy.

But the mood at the fountain was festive, as Jewish community leaders and Jewish students spoke openly about the dangers of Hamas and the false narrative being presented across the nation about the internationally declared terrorist organization. Additionally, a few students shared some stories of fearful moments, including being followed home by protestors from the Chabad House, which is directly across the street from Dunn-Meadow.

When asked why this rally was important, Jikeli responded, “we just won’t accept Hamas propaganda or terrorist rhetoric.” He added, “we have continued to see [the propaganda] in conversations here on [IU] campus, mostly on social media, which has a strong impact as well, but also offline. We just want to make it clear that it’s not part of our values.”

The propaganda in question is largely considered anti-Semitic, speech which is hateful or inciting threatening behaviors against Jewish people.

“Since anti-Semitism has been on a rise at Indiana University, our message has always been to strengthen the Jewish community and make them prouder of their identity,” said Rabbi Levi Cunin, Director of Chabad at IU. “We have seen on Dunn-Meadow, right in front of our faces, [protestors] screaming Intifada.”

Global Intifada is a term coined in 1987 by Hamas at the time of their forming. Hamas was founded after an extremist wing of the PLO fell at odds with then leader Yassir Arafat’s movement to peacefully negotiate with Israel over the control of the Gaza region. Hamas’ purpose was, and remains, to engage in violence against the Jewish and to draw the Arabs of the region closer to the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2004, they forged a military coup and gained control of the government.

While the word alone has a definition of ‘shivering through an uprising’, Hamas has explained through the years that this title is exclusively a calling of violence against Israelis, the Jewish, and institutions supporting Israel.

Rabbi Levi mentions that while the intent of the person chanting “Intifada” may be different than Hamas’ goals, the impact that this word has on the Jewish community is powerful and simultaneously fearful.

He also spoke toward bringing to light another phrase being heard at demonstrations and on college campuses throughout this country, including over the past weeks at Indiana University.

“They’ve been chanting, from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” Cunin said. Which he adds, “is explicitly a call to exterminate Jews living in the Nation of Israel.”

And he is not incorrect. This is perhaps another phrase that might sound catchy through the loudspeaker during a demonstration, or even be believed to demand equal rights to the Palestinian people, but the phrase, in actuality, is a demand for the expulsion and genocide of Israel’s inhabitants, and a rejection of peaceful solutions to the challenges of the region.

While clarity on others’ protesting was discussed, the event was more focused on Jewish people coming together in times of adversity, showing support, and reminding those in attendance that it is okay to be proud of their identity.

“Our response [to the anti-Israeli protests] has been to bring about more Jewish pride and to empower our Jewish community,” added Cunin.

Some have criticized members of the Chabad House of IU for playing music and dancing while State Police were engaging Dunn-Meadow protestors, but the Rabbi insists that they have been “dancing only for Jewish pride in front [their] house.”

A great degree of international divide over this military conflict is the rising death toll and remaining quality of life for those in the region. The leaders of this anti-Hamas demonstration made two things very clear.

First, they reminded the participants that there was a long-standing cease fire up until October 7, 2023. And secondly, they pointed out that the continued bloodshed is due to Hamas both refusing to release the remaining hostages and through their cowardly tactic of using their own innocent people as human shields.

“We are very upset that even one life has been taken.” said Cunin. “We are so against war and all we want is peace in the Middle East.

The answers to peace in the Middle East will likely not come from college campus protests or campus-wide discussions on the subject, but there is a growing divide which is causing many in this nation a lot of undue pain.

Perhaps today’s reactionary rally will help some of those looking to support an end to the overseas violence better understand the true impact of their words and actions, which are spreading rapidly across this nation.

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: A man holds a sign reading,”Hamas propaganda has no place at Indiana University,” during a pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” held at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rally was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: A man holds a sign reading,”Destroy Islamistterror! Destroy Islamofascism!,” during a pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” held at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rallyd was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: A man holds an Israeli flag during a pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” held at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rally was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: A sign compares 9-11 to October-7 during pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” held at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rally was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: A woman is wrapped in the American flag during a pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” held at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rally was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: Babak Seradjeh, carries a sign reading, “Disarm Hamas for Peace,’” during a pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” held at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rally was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: Rabbi Sue Silberberg speaks during a pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” held at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rally was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: Rabbi Sue Silberberg speaks during a pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” held at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rally was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: Attendees listen to Rabbi Sue Silberberg during a pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” held at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rally was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: Rabbi Levi Cunin, of Chabad on Campus, speaks during a pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rally was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: Günther Jikeli, Associate Professor for the Study of Antisemitism at Indiana University, speaks during pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” held at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rally was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – MAY 2: Babak Seradjeh, carrying a sign reading, “Disarm Hamas for Peace,’” speaks to Abdulkader Sinno, after a pro-Israel rally against “Hamas propaganda” held at the Showalter Fountain on May 2, 2024 in Bloomington, Indiana. The rally was in part a response to pro-Palestinian protests being held across the United States. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

Rate this post

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 4.1 / 5. Vote count: 15

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Bloomingtonian on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!