Israel supporters united at SDSU in ‘Walk for Peace’ amid dark realities in Middle East

SAN DIEGO — People from across San Diego County rallied together at San Diego State University Monday afternoon to show their support for Israel and the Jewish community in a “Walk for Peace.”

“I woke up Saturday morning to absolute horrors. Children being kidnapped. Mothers being murdered in front of their families,” shared Alpha Epsilon Pi President and Hillel Ambassador Ori Lerer.

He and hundreds of other students, faculty, parents and children gathered together walking hand in hand all with a message rooted in unity amid a dark reality.

“Men, women, children, elderly and Holocaust survivors being paraded around as their dead bodies are dragged on the streets,” said Lerer in an emotional speech to other demonstrators Monday evening.

Several walked with T-shirts, signs and flags reading “End Jew Hatred” and “Fighting with Love” as they made their way both on and off SDSU grounds in solidarity as horror continues to unfold in the Middle East.

“I was nursing my baby in the middle of the night when I learned my dear friends were murdered in their sleep in their homes…To say it brought up generational trauma does not even begin to express what this feels like for the Jewish community,” shared Karen Parry, who is the Executive Director of Hillel of San Diego. “We’re a very small minority so having friends that show up and show out for us is so critical to our continued existence.” 

It’s a matter gravely impacting the loved ones of SDSU students who are currently fleeing from disaster in Israel after that deadly attack by Hamas over the weekend, as the death toll of people from Israel and Palestine rises to around 1,600 deaths.

“Our 80-year-old grandma is having to be in a bomb shelter by herself along with a lot of our cousins and uncles and a lot of our really close family members,” shared Emma Sheina who is a sophomore at SDSU.

Both Emma Sheina and her sister Hannah are among the many now holding out hope for a phone call as their family and friends remain unaccounted for or are in hiding.

“We have people in the defense forces as well. It’s just traumatizing and having our friends and family tell us that they’re friends aren’t responding is just heart wrenching,” Sheina said.

The contention in the Middle East is garnering protest from both pro-Israel groups and pro-Palestine groups in the San Diego region, with more expected in the days to come in these early stages of conflict.

The Israeli American Council is planning its own pro-Israel rally that is set to take place Tuesday night at the Jacobs Family campus in La Jolla. A separate vigil will also be held Tuesday at the Jewish Community Center in honor of the Israelis lost in the attack.

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