Partaking in various activities ranging from henna tattoo art to eating falafel, several students gathered on campus yesterday to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary as an independent nation.
The Israel Independence Day Carnival, which occurred on the lawn of the Old Women’s Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., commemorated Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 – also known as Yom Ha’atzmaut. In addition to the carnival, several other events were held throughout the week.
Students congregated at Hillel Tuesday evening for a memorial service in observance of Yom Hazikaron, an Israeli national holiday that remembers fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. On Wednesday, Infected Mushroom, an Israeli psychedelic trance duo, performed in the Hub.
American Students for Israel Press Secretary Jennifer Pollock said she wanted the carnival to emphasize the importance of the nation’s cultural and religious diversity. Pollock, a third-year economics and medieval studies major, said an example of this diversity was the presence of a hookah booth at the carnival which took into account the Bedouin Muslim population in Israel.
“I think it’s important because there are all these different cultures in Israel that don’t really get talked about because of the war,” Pollock said. “Israel represents Jews, Christians, Bahais, the Druze, and Sunni and Shia Muslims.”
ASI President Alan Levine said that beyond religious reasons, festival-goers should view support for Israel as a global cause.
“I believe it’s in everyone’s interest to support Israel, both for economic reasons and moral reasons,” Levine said. “Israel is not only a Jewish issue. We had a lot of people stop by [the carnival].”
David Safina, a third-year religious studies and philosophy major, said that being Jewish is not a prerequisite for being pro-Israel.
“I was raised very fundamentalist Christian,” Safina said. “I’m really interested in learning about other traditions. Israel is a bastion of democracy. It’s the one place in the Middle East where tolerance, diversity and ethnic unity all live together. I am super excited that Israel’s still kickin’.”
After World War I, the League of Nations – a precursor to the United Nations – approved the British Mandate of Palestine, with the intention of creating a Jewish homeland. In 1948, the UN voted to separate the Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. However, the Arab League did not approve the plan, and the Jewish provisional government declared independence, thereby ending the British Mandate.