Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Gil+Hoffman+%28Medill+%E2%80%9999%29%2C+the+executive+director+of+Israeli+media+advocacy+group+HonestReporting%2C+held+a+dialogue+on+Thursday+to+kick+off+Israel+Peace+and+Reflection+Week.
Jerry Wu/The Daily Northwestern
Gil Hoffman (Medill ’99), the executive director of Israeli media advocacy group HonestReporting, held a dialogue on Thursday to kick off Israel Peace and Reflection Week.

More than 50 students and community members gathered in the Technological Institute on Thursday to hear Gil Hoffman (Medill ’99), the executive director of Israeli media advocacy group HonestReporting, discuss the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, its aftermath and surrounding media coverage.

Thursday marked the first day of the annual Northwestern Israel Peace and Reflection Week, hosted by NU Hillel and Wildcats for Israel. Like past years, this year’s arrangement is held during Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, and Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. The weeklong programming will feature guest speakers, community dialogues, festivals and ceremonies.

“(Hamas) made Gaza, at the expense of the Gaza people, into the ultimate fortress of terror,” Hoffman said. “The media has made it look like Israel is so strong and that Gazans are the victims and the underdog. Gazans are the victims, but they’re the victims of Hamas, just like Israelis, and it’s an unfair fight.” 

The programming comes almost two weeks after University administration reached an agreement with organizers to deescalate a five-day pro-Palestinian encampment on Deering Meadow. Some NU Jewish students have since shared mixed feelings about the encampment, including discomfort and safety concerns. 

“I think a lot of people have felt pretty isolated on campus and from their connection to Israeli culture because a lot of the sentiment of the encampment was to divest from Israel,” said Weinberg junior and NU Hillel President Sari Eisen. “We think it’s really important to separate the government and military action from the culture itself, so we’re celebrating the culture (this week).”

In the coming days, organizers have planned events including beach games, a Shabbat meal, a We Will Dance Again party to honor the victims from the Oct. 7 attack and a fundraiser for Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency medical, disaster and blood bank service.

Organizers said they hope the week can foster unity and celebration in the Jewish community on campus.

“It’s been a difficult couple of weeks and even months for many in the Jewish community,” said Medill sophomore and Wildcats for Israel President Madeleine Stern, a former Daily staffer. “A lot of my friends are really looking forward to Israel Peace and Reflection Week as a time to come together with the community and express our pride in our Jewish identity.”

Eisen added that there will be an opportunity for students and attendees to open up for discussions and conversations to process recent events, including the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus and the Israel-Hamas war.

Israel’s current ground and air offensive in Gaza follows the militant group Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which killed about 1,200 Israelis, according to Israeli officials. Israel’s military action has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian officials. 

Hillel staff members will lead lunch dialogues on students’ relationship to their Jewish identity and stance on Israel.

“We also have some meaningful discussion regarding recent events, because we can’t ignore that we have to talk about the war … how people are feeling about it, how Israel is reacting from a cultural standpoint,” Eisen said. “It’s important to talk about those things and have a broader sense of education about all of these topics.”

Organizer and Medill senior Josh Miller said he wishes this week will offer NU Jewish students a space on campus to celebrate their cultural heritage.

With “anti-Israel sentiments in some areas of campus,” he emphasized that Israel Peace and Reflection Week was a time to showcase the “beautiful elements” of Israeli culture.

“I think that Israel Peace and Reflection Week is going to be a beautiful time where we are able to celebrate the culture and diversity of Israel,” Miller said. “It’s important for Jewish students and just all students to see that Israel is a beautiful place with a beautiful culture.”

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