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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Students demonstrate, hold silent walk supporting Israel

The+march+passes+the+Academic+Building+at+the+Aggies+Stand+with+Israel+March+on+Thursday%2C+Oct.+12%2C+2023+%28Adriano+Espinosa%2F+The+Battalion%29.
Photo by Adriano Espinosa

The march passes the Academic Building at the Aggies Stand with Israel March on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023 (Adriano Espinosa/ The Battalion).

After the Islamic militarist group Hamas launched an incursion into Israel over the weekend, leaving more than 1,100 dead, including 27 Americans, students and members of the community at Texas A&M gathered to show support for Israel. 

At Rudder Plaza on Oct. 12, students organized a silent walk, prayer and gathering. Over 100 attendees were present, including Jewish and Israeli students from around the Bryan-College Station area. 

The event began with a speech by biology senior Benjamin Galison, the main organizer and president of Aggie Students Supporting Israel, an organization encouraging education about Israel and informed decision-making about issues in the Middle East.  

“As many of you may know, Israel is in the middle of a war and a fight against evil terrorists,” Galison said. “We are gathered here this evening to honor those who are fighting [and] those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in combat.” 
Postdoctoral research associate Aaron Benjamin said the attacks were disheartening. 

“I honestly cried a little bit,” Benjamin said. “I couldn’t believe it was happening because I thought that this wouldn’t happen ever again, especially after the Holocaust.”

Benjamin is Jewish and said he attended to show his support for his brothers and sisters in Israel. 
“I think [the United States] should show support [to Israel],” Benjamin said. “I don’t know if that necessarily means military support, per se. But I think that would be a wise decision because if you listen to what the Hamas charter says, America’s next. They’re not going to stop with the Jews.” 

Benjamin said students should stand with Israel because it’s important to call out evil when it appears. 

“These acts are horrifically evil,” Benjamin said. “I mean, nobody thought that this could be done by people in the 21st century.” 

Attendee business administration freshman Mason Friant said he believed the war is a fight against Israel. 

“A lot of innocent civilians were killed first in Israel, and I think it was only natural for them to fight back against Hamas,” Friant said. “I think it’s a terrorist organization that is built on [an] evil and discriminatory charter that says they’ll eradicate the Jews.”  

Friant said now is as important a time as any for students to stand with Israel, as it shows strength.

“It helps to support the Jews on campus, and the Jews in the country,” Friant said. 

Associate Vice President of News and Issues Management Kelly Brown said 21 students and faculty at A&M are from Israel and 17 are from Palestine.  

Electronic systems and engineering technology junior Avram Plager said he helped organize the event as the VP of Aggie Students Supporting Israel. 

“We got a much bigger turnout than we thought we could possibly get,” Plager said. 

Plager said when the attacks initially happened, he immediately became concerned. 

“I have a friend who’s serving in [the Israel Defense Forces,] as well as his sister,” Plager said. “I texted him right after to make sure he [was] okay.”

Plager said he felt disbelief that a war on this scale could still happen in today’s world. 

“In modern days, we get distracted in our everyday lives, and we don’t expect atrocities like this to happen,” Plager said. “It’s kind of a wake-up call to everyone that evil like this still exists in the world, and we need to do everything we can to fight it.”  

Electrical engineering senior Romi Gilat said she was there to support Israel. 

“I’m Israeli, and thankfully, everyone in my family is safe,” Gilat said. “But every single person I know has lost someone.” 

Gilat said she felt shock and panic when she heard what had happened.

“I called every single person that I know to make sure that they’re still alive,” Gilat said. “There was a 24-hour period where we couldn’t get in touch with someone in our family, which was really scary.” 

Nothing on this scale had happened in Israel before, Gilat said. 

“Hatred of Jewish people has happened a lot throughout our lifetimes,” Gilat said. “My grandfather, who survived the Holocaust, is still alive to this day, and if [students] don’t stand and show our support [for Israel,] who will?”

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