Pro-Israel student group accused of lobbying SG

Regina Kaza

Congressman Ted Deutch spoke at the Owls For Israel meeting on September 26. He shared his personal experiences visiting Israel, and answered student questions. Photo by Christine Capozziello.

A pro-Israel club invited SG to a dinner, but a pro-Palestine club leader says it’s just a way to buy influence.

Owls For Israel (OFI) hosted a dinner in the Student Union’s Grand Palm Room on Sept. 26th to introduce their organization and get student leaders involved, said OFI president Michael Miller.

SG President Ayden Maher and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL)  gave speeches at the dinner. SGVP Robert Huffman also attended, along with fraternities like Alpha Epsilon Pi and Delta Tau Delta.

Noor Fawzy, president of Students for Justice in Palestine, claimed the dinner was a way for OFI to “buy off” SG. “By inviting Student Government to their planned private dinner, OFI is attempting to buy off Student Government.”

In response, OFI President Michael Miller said “It really bothers me because I want a good relationship with SJP. I have truly bright hopes in doing something with them. It’s just about getting to a point where members of both organizations feel comfortable.”

Both a guest and a speaker at the dinner, SG President Ayden Maher said, “It’s important for student leaders to talk about issues happening in the world, meet people, come together and network.”

When asked if he supports OFI, Maher claimed “I can’t really support an organization.”

As for his position on the Israel/Palestine conflict, he said, “I believe in peace for both sides, self determination for Israel and Palestine. Both groups have beliefs that are right and wrong.”

SG Chief of Staff Eric Dansky, who is a member of Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi said, “Here, Jewish advocacy is important. Getting in touch with Jewish students and raise advocacy. It’s something we take very seriously and are passionate about.”

Dansky is also a former OFI board member.

Congressman Ted Deutch also talked about supporing Israel. “We need to stay united as a Jewish community of Democrats and Republicans. Israel is safest when the pro Israel community is united.”

Fawzy disagreed on SG being invited, “OFI is not after friendship with Ayden, Robert or any other member of SG. Rather, OFI is after their influence. This lack of sincerity should offend both Student Government and those who support Student Government”

SGVP Robert Huffman said, “I’m here to support our students, to support OFI, their movement and what they’re doing.”

As for attending SJP events, he said, “I haven’t attended any SJP events, never been invited, but I’m open to attending any organization’s events on campus. As a representative of all students, I think I should show support for all students.”

 Fawzy responded, “In any event, we strongly encourage SG to attend our future events in order to better comprehend and appreciate the plight of the Palestinian people.”

She also said she invited Maher to the Sept. 14 SJP rally, “But, unlike OFI, we are not going to buy SG off with a dinner or anything of the sort. We have more respect for SG than that.”

To learn more about OFI go to their FAU Collegiate Link page. To learn more about SJP, visit their Facebook page.