The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Students rally outside Rand Dining Hall in support of Israel, Palestine

The demonstrations, which occurred just 200 feet apart, come two weeks after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack.
Barrie Barto
Pictures from students protesting in support of Palestine outside of Rand, Israeli flag in front of Nashville legislative building, as photographed Oct. 27, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Barrie Barto)

Students walked out of class in support of Israel at noon on Oct. 27. Around the same time, another group of students congregated at the Rand Wall to express solidarity with Palestine. 

The walkout was organized by Students Supporting Israel at Vanderbilt, an unregistered student organization formed in response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

About 40 students demonstrated in support of Palestine, while Ryan Bauman, a senior and president of SSI Vanderbilt, said between 45 and 55 students participated in the walkout. 

Some students gathered at Fleming Yard in support of Israel and distributed flyers produced by Kidnapped From Israel, an art and public relations campaign founded by Israelis in New York City. Others met at Vanderbilt Hillel to coordinate transportation to a downtown Nashville rally in Legislative Plaza.

Students in support of Palestine held signs, some of which read “Stop the Genocide,” “Free Palestine” and “End the Siege on Gaza Now.” Most of the students wore masks or held signs to cover their faces. The participants declined to comment on the protest due to safety and privacy concerns.

Senior Ryan Bauman, president of SSI Vanderbilt, told The Hustler that he thought it was important that students came together to show support for Israel.

“After the horrific attacks of Oct. 7 on Israel, now more than ever, we need to come together as a Jewish community to stand for what is right,” Baumann said. “Many of our peers are far removed from this issue, but for many of us, it hit close to home, and for some, it literally hit home.”

Maya Levinson, a senior, said the walkout aimed to bring focus back onto the Israeli hostages captured by Hamas.

“Our generation’s attention span tends to be short, and with a world that moves so fast, it can be easy to forget the human lives at stake,” Levinson said.

The rally downtown sought to raise support for Israel in the Nashville community at large, featuring recorded messages from Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern U.S. Anat Sultan-Dadon. Student activists and community religious leaders also spoke at the rally.

Senior Nathan Applebaum, president of Vanderbilt Hillel, called the downtown rally a very positive experience.

“I thought it was an incredible display of community,” Applebaum said. “To see that Israel means so much to many different people from an array of backgrounds and cultures was heartwarming and gives me hope in these devastating times.”

Junior Sarina Samuel also attended the rally downtown and said she found it reassuring.

“Being Jewish and Israeli with plenty of family and friends in Israel right now, it has been a scary and heartbreaking couple of weeks,” Samuel said. “In these difficult times, it was beautiful and comforting to see so many Tennesseans from varying backgrounds coming together in support of Israel and the Jewish community.”

Multiple campus tours passed the demonstrations while exiting Rand. Scott Coberly, a senior and president of Vanderbilt Tour Guides, declined to comment on behalf of any of the guides involved.

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About the Contributors
Parker Smith
Parker Smith, Former Deputy News Editor
Parker Smith ('24) is majoring in computer science and political science in the School of Engineering. He enjoys playing guitar in his spare time and is a former Starbucks barista and self-proclaimed coffee expert. He can be reached at [email protected].
Barrie Barto
Barrie Barto, Editor-in-Chief
Barrie Barto ('25) is majoring in medicine, health & society with neuroscience and communication of science & technology minors in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Photography Director. When she's not strolling around campus with her camera, you can find Barrie cheering on the St. Louis Blues or tracking down the best gluten-free food in Nashville. She can be reached at [email protected].
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Comments (4)

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Seeking justice in all things
3 months ago

Personally, I am a bit confused on what the Israeli protestors are protesting for. Generally, protests are to express objection to some action or policy that may otherwise be endorsed by society. But no one is endorsing the murder of Israelis on October 7th; we are all mourning that tragedy. What warrants a protest right now is an end to the slaughter of Palestinians, and concomitant protests for Israel really only serve to pull attention away from an ongoing and avertible atrocity to one that has already occurred. I find Levinson’s desire to bring the focus back onto the hostages concerning to say the least. I agree and pray that they be returned home safely, but the phrasing “back onto” implies that she wants the focus shifted from ending the massacre of Palestinians to the release of hostages. Both are important for sure, but I certainly give more weight to the former, if only due to the number of lives involved. I mean, isn’t each innocent human life equally valuable? Plus, while I understand and support the need for prayers and support groups around the hostage situation, what exactly is a protest going to accomplish? Let’s focus our efforts on demanding actions to prevent the loss of more human life (i.e. a ceasefire), and let us pray all the while that the Israeli hostages return to their families unharmed.

6 months ago

thank you for respecting the students who chose to cover their faces for safety concerns by posting photos that do not expose them. peaceful pro-palestine protestors are facing a lot of dangerous repercussions and getting doxxed by their peers at other institutions, professors are being fired at other institutions for calling out genocide. as someone who participated in the pro-palestine walk out, i appreciate that the hustler is respecting the wishes and safety of students.

6 months ago

why is this article so biased

6 months ago
Reply to  Anon

agreed! they didn’t interview any pro-palestine students because of safety concerns – but they could have offered anonymity and SHOULD have given a background to why students have those safety concerns in the first place. people are being attacked and fired for speaking out in support of palestinian liberation and against genocide and i think a more balanced article would have given some background about this