Students came together at the Pegasus statue in front of the Glenn G. Bartle Library on Wednesday for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of recent violence in Israel and Gaza.
The vigil was an apolitical event, hosted by J Street U–Binghamton, that encouraged students to rally for peace and honor all lives that were lost during the violence.
Javeria Ahmad, a junior double-majoring in history and French, said peace is important regardless of religious beliefs.
“Regardless of what faith you are, you shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of intolerance and violence,” Ahmad said.
Students huddled in a circle and held candlesticks to remember the lives that were lost during the conflict.
Students at the event read poetry and signed cards to send to senators and representatives to urge involvement by American leadership and demonstrate students’ stances on the conflict.
Ilan Benattar, a member of J Street U and a junior double-majoring in history and Arabic studies, commented on the importance of the vigil and what they hope to achieve in the future.
“It was important to take this opportunity and to increase the presence about not just Israelis suffering or the Palestinians suffering but that this is something reciprocal,” Benattar said. “It’s a vicious cycle and we wanted to take a moment to remember the tragedy on both sides and hopefully we can start discussions on a new way forward.”
J Street is a national organization that promotes leadership and peace in the Middle East.
Originally, organizers planned to read the names of those who died because of the violence and have a moment of silence in their honor. According to Tina Ritter, co-founder of J Street U at Binghamton University and a senior double-majoring in biology and linguistics, names were not mentioned during the event since not all of the names have been released.
The most recent escalation in Gaza started when Israel killed Ahmed Jabari, chief of the Gaza military wing of Hamas, following weeks of indiscriminate rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Israel stated that its aims were to halt the rocket attacks and disrupt the capabilities of militant organizations.
On Nov. 21, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr announced a cease-fire during a joint news conference in Cairo. The cease-fire calls for “complete and total cessation of all hostile activity” initiated in Gaza, according to an Israeli government spokesman.
Derek Gumb, Student Association executive vice president and a senior majoring in politics, philosophy, and law, attended the vigil to show his support for peace.
“I believe that the best way forward is a peaceful one,” Gumb said. “It doesn’t matter what your political party is or whose side you’re on.”
Ella Schwarzbaum, treasurer of J Street U and an undeclared sophomore, said that she was impressed with the results of the vigil.
“It’s nice and reassuring to see that people on campus also care,” Schwarzbaum said.