Students Supporting Israel Gains Momentum At Kent State

Students Supporting Israel Gains Momentum At Kent State

A movement for peace.
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As a woman that grew up in the Western World, I feel like sometimes it is hard to grasp the very real and very horrific state of countries on the opposite side of the globe. I had growing interest in what is happening in the Middle East and wondered how we could achieve peace. It all just seemed too big and too hard to change anything. However, in the past couple of years being in college and creating friendships with people of so many diverse religions and cultures, I am learning so much more about the world and how I can help out.

Today I had the chance to sit down and talk with the president of the Students Supporting Israel at Kent State University, and a good friend of mine, Sophia Witt. SSI is a new movement at KSU this year, but it is growing rapidly. Students across campus are coming together to show their support for Israel and call for peace in the Middle East. Since she is the president, I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about SSI and ask her some questions about how to get involved.


What is SSI?

SSI is Students Supporting Israel at Kent State. We are a pro-Israel grassroots peace movement that supports co-existing, human rights, and peace, all of which Israel represents.

Why is it important for students to stay aware of the issues in the Middle East?
It’s happening in the world around them. Even though we’re in the United States, it is important to pay attention to everything. Eventually it all gets back to the United States. Everyone comes to us because we are the land of the free and the home of the brave. The U.S. is always involved. So I believe it’s important for everyone to know about allies as well as enemies in the Middle East.


How can students get involved at Kent State or other universities they may attend?

Staying active in news and reading articles and being informed. Students Supporting Israel is just a statement, really - that you support peace. You support Israel. A country that is so diverse and so accepting in all things. And being an informed citizen and human being that supports peace in Israel is being a member. Share articles and information. Write articles. Talk about Israel with friends. Talk about peace in the Middle East.
Also, feel free to come to our meetings on Thursdays from 7:30-8:30PM – we usually have food. We talk about current events and how to get more people informed. The overall message of SSI is to be informed and know what is happening in Israel.

Are there other branches of SSI in other universities?

Yes! There are 48 chapters officially now, spreading across the world. It was founded in Minnesota and since then it has prospered and branched out to different campuses in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. It is a movement. It’s not just a club, it’s really like a way of life. It’s being a Zionist. I think there are members of SSI who don’t even know they’re members yet.


Do you have to be Jewish to be a member of SSI?
Absolutely not. SSI has a diverse group of followers. Israel itself is a Jewish state, however the country is so diverse. It’s accepting of all denominations. So any religion is accepted in SSI. If you support Israel, co-existence, and human rights, then you meet the requirements of SSI.

Is there anything else you feel should be known about the Students Supporting Israel movement?
I think that it’s important for people to know that we’re a family. We aren’t just a group or club. We are a force that stands together for something bigger than us. It’s not about who’s better than who, it’s bigger. We’re bonded together to create peace and I think that’s very important to understand.

Thank you for doing an interview with me, Sophia.
I want to spread awareness about SSI so thank you for writing an article about us!




I think it is very critical for young adults to keep up with what is happening in other parts of the world. It can be hard to do with so much going on and our media can be very selective in what they cover. But with the internet and social media it is much easier to stay in touch and informed than ever before. We have the opportunity to learn from the past and create ways to spread peace in the future. SSI is an incredible movement that is trying to achieve peace. I believe if we come together we can look to the future with hope and know that it’s not too hard to change.

Cover Image Credit: Sophia Witt

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Ilhan Omar Is at Best Foolhardy and at Worst, Yes, Anti-Semitic

Her latest statements seem to lack substance, motivation, or direction.

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I find the case of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to be a curious one.

Specifically, I am referring to the recent controversy over select comments of hers that have generated accusations of anti-Semitism. In all honesty, prior to doing research for this article, I was prepared to come to her defense.

When her comments consisted primarily of "Israeli hypnosis" and monied interest, I thought her wording poor, though not too egregiously deviated from that of most politicians in the current climate of bad behavior. After all, Israeli PACs surely do have a monied interest in the orientation of United States policy in the Middle East. Besides, if President Trump can hypothesize about killing someone in broad daylight and receive no official sanction, I don't see the need for the House of Representatives to hand down reprimand to Rep. Omar for simply saying that Israel may have dealt wrongly, regardless of the veracity of that position.

And yet, seemingly discontent that she had not drawn enough ire, Omar continued firing. She questioned the purported dual loyalty of those Americans who support the state of Israel, while also making claim that the beloved former President Obama is actually not all that different from the reviled current President Trump.

In short, the initial (mostly) innocuous statements about the United States' relation with Israel have been supplanted by increasingly bizarre (and unnecessary) postulations.

Those latest two controversies I find most egregious. Questioning the loyalty of an American citizen for espousing support for a heavily persecuted world religion and in defense of a refuge for practitioners of that self-same religion that has existed as an independent state since 1948, seems, in really no uncertain terms, anti-Semitic.

After all, is it not her own party that so adamantly supports persecuted Palestinians in the very same region? Is it not she and fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (who is not without her own streak of anti-Semitic controversy) that have rejected challenges to their own loyalty in being ethnically Somali and Palestinian respectively? Is her claim not akin to the "racist" demands that Obama produce proof of his birth in the United States, and the more concrete racism that asserted he truly was not? And (if you care to reach back so far) can her statement not be equated to suggestions that President John F. Kennedy would be beholden to the Vatican as the first (and to date only) Catholic to hold the presidency?

From what I can discern amongst her commentary, in Omar's mind, the rules that apply to her framework on race, ethnicity, religion, and culture as sacred idols above reproach do not extend to her Jewish contemporaries.

Oh, and may I remind you that over 70% of Jewish Americans voted for Hilary Clinton in 2016.

And yet, beyond even this hypocrisy, is the strange disdain Omar suddenly seems to hold for Barack Obama. Even as a non-Democrat, while I can find reason for this, it is still largely perplexing.

To begin with, I recognize that Ilhan Omar is not your prototypical Democrat. She would scoff at being termed a moderate, and likely would do the same to being labeled a traditional liberal. While she doesn't identify as an outright democratic socialist, one would have to be totally clueless to avoid putting her in the company of those who do, such as Tlaib or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

As such, she's bound to have some critical evaluations of President Obama, despite the lionizing that the Democratic establishment has and continues to engage in. Two points still stick out to me as obvious incongruities in her statement, however.

First, Obama and Trump are nothing alike. Again, this coming from someone who does not regularly support either, I can at least attempt to claim objectivity. While Obama might not have been faithful to all the demands of the far-left during his presidency, his position on the political spectrum was far from the extreme bent that Trump has ventured into.

Secondly, there is the style of the two men to consider. While Obama had his share of goofs and gaffes (I still think it somewhat juvenile that he often refused to say "radical Islamic terrorism" when referring to Islamist extremists) he pales in comparison to Trump. Every week Trump has his foot caught in a new bear trap. Obama is enormously tame in comparison.

And in addition to all of that, one must beg the question of Omar's timing. With Republicans emboldened by her controversies and House Democratic leadership attempting to soothe the masses, why would Omar strike out at what's largely a popular figure for those that support her most? There seemed no motivation for the commentary and no salient reasoning to back it up, save that Omar wanted to speak her mind.

Such tactlessness is something that'll get you politically killed.

I do not believe Barack Obama was a great president, but that's not entirely important. I don't live in Ilhan Omar's district; her constituents believe Obama was a great president, and that should at least factor into her considerations. Or maybe she did weigh the negative value of such backlash and decided it wouldn't matter? 2019 isn't an election year, after all. Yet, even if that's the case, what's to gain by pissing off your superiors when they're already pissed off at you?

You need to pick your battles wisely in order to win the war, and I'm highly doubtful Omar will win any wars by pitching scorched-earth tactics over such minute concerns.

Her attitude reminds me not only of that of some of her colleagues engaging obtusely and unwisely over subjects that could best be shrugged off (see the AOC media controversies), but also some of my own acquaintances. They believe not only in the myth of their own infallibility, but the opposition bogeyman conjured by their status in a minority or marginalized group. As the logic goes, "I'm a member of x group, and being so gives me the right to decimate anyone who has any inclination to stand against me in any capacity, tit for tat." So much for civility.

I initially came here to defend Rep. Ilhan Omar, and I still do hold to that in certain cases. The opposition to some of her positions is unwarranted. She is allotted the freedom of speech, as are all Americans.

And yet, in certain other cases she has conducted herself brashly, and, one could argue, anti-Semitically.

All I can say is that I am content living adjacent to Minneapolis, not in it. You'd be hard-pressed to find me advocating for leadership that makes manifest in such impolitic fashion.

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