In the aftermath of the Oct. 7 terrorist attack that reignited the Israel-Hamas war, campus groups at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have continually organized to show their support for those affected.
Badgers Against Hate, a pro-Israel organization on campus, held a candlelight vigil and events for the Jewish community to come together and support one another.
For Palestinian students and others impacted by violence in the Gaza Strip, groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and Madison for Palestine organized rallies and events to denounce Israel’s response to Oct. 7 attacks.
The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 5,000 people, according to the United Nations. The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said official Israeli sources estimate around 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, a majority of them in the Oct. 7 attacks.
Foreign aid to Gaza has come gradually, though responders say it’s an insufficient amount, especially as Israeli officials are resistant to any fuel deliveries into the territory, according to the Associated Press. The deliveries are key for restoring and maintaining electricity in Gaza.
Numerous groups advocate for Palestine
Over 200 people gathered at Library Mall on Oct. 17 to show support for Palestine before marching up State Street to the Wisconsin State Capitol building.
Speakers at the event called for Congress to take action to support the Palestinian people and criticized President Joe Biden for his statements on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The event was organized by the Madison branch of Students for Justice in Palestine, a nationwide student organization promoting “justice, liberation and self-determination for Palestinian people,” according to the group’s Instagram profile.
At the event, attendees took turns speaking about the Palestinian experience in the Gaza Strip and expressed how they had felt on campus in the aftermath of the initial attack.
Event organizers said they plan to march to the Capitol and Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s office until Congress takes action to support Palestinian people affected by conflict in the war-torn Gaza Strip.
Students show solidarity with Israel
Badgers Against Hate organized a “Shabbat in Strength” event on Library Mall to show solidarity with Israel on Friday, Oct. 20. Students performed songs and gave speeches supporting Israel, the Israel Defence Forces and their family and friends during the event.
Alex Shohet, a UW-Madison freshman and speaker at the event, emphasized community and solace for people affected by the conflict. He has been to Israel before and spoke of the need to “keep [his] head up” despite the ongoing conflict.
“We have all lost a lot of things,” Shohet said. “There are hundreds of people who understand what you are going through. You’re not alone.”
Speakers used this event to express frustrations and fears about family, friends and the Jewish community.
“Here in Wisconsin, we are committed to standing not only in solidarity with Israel, but standing on the right side of history,” Jacob Bigelman, a UW-Madison junior and event organizer, said. “People always talk about how history repeats itself, and I’m afraid we’re seeing that again right before our eyes.”
In an Oct. 11 statement, Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin stressed the importance of coming together as a campus community and supporting each other.
“Difficult times can fray our connections and exacerbate our differences,” Mnookin said. “Let us focus on the values that we share.”
Anna Kleiber is an arts editor for The Daily Cardinal. She also reports on state politics and campus news. Follow her on Twitter at @annakleiber03.