About 200 students and faculty members crowded in front of Widener Library yesterday afternoon to show solidarity for Israel and condemn recent Iraqi missile attacks on that country.
Five speakers--including Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz and Yitzhak Oren, the Israeli consul to New England--addressed the rally, which was jointly sponsored by the Harvard Republicans, Harvard Democrats and Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel. All of the speakers encouraged the audience to continue their support of Israel as well as the Bush Administration's refusal to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the invasion of Kuwait.
"He [Saadam] is exploiting the Palestinian issue to destroy Israel," said Dershowitz, whose 10-minute address concluded the rally.
Dershowitz also told the crowd that the recent Iraqi air strikes were racist and inhumane actions against the Jewish people. He urged the crowd to fulfill a "moral obligation" of defending the case for Israel's existence as a Jewish homeland by distributing pamphlets and engaging in debates with other colleagues.
"Do not become smug and self-satisfied," Dershowitz said. "This is the beginning, you have an obligation, the future is in your hands."
Oren, the second speaker at the rally, stressed that there is still much instability in the Middle East outside of the war, adding that many Palestinians reportedly cheered when the Iraqi missiles descended on Israel. He cited the need to think seriously about settling these regional conflicts.
"We must think of the day after [the war]," Oren said. "It is the time to talk about cooperation, moderation and a better time in the Middle East for all people."
"Arabs must reconcile themselves to the need of peaceful coexistence," David M. Shull '94, vice-president of the Harvard Republicans, said later in the rally.
Each of the five speakers condemned Hussein's Scud missile attacks on Israeli civilians. Jack S. Levy '92, past chair of Hillel's coordinating council, described Saddam's missile attacks as "psychologically harrowing." He added that he expects that future attacks on Israel will involve chemical weapons, violating "all norms of human decency."
"What we hope for is that Israel will be able to dwell among its neighbors with peace and security." Levy said. "This security they have thirsted for all too long, and this peace they have been denied."
Several students attending the rally, which concluded with the singing of both the Israeli and American national anthems, said they too were enraged by the Iraqi assaults against Israel.
"I think it is really an outrage that Saddam Hussein can bomb a country that's totally unrelated to the invasion of Kuwait and can seemingly get away with it in the eyes of the world," said Lisa M. Korn '93. "People need to stand up to this unjustified act."