warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Students 'Mortified' By Jerusalem Terrorist Attack

Lior Haykeen |
November 19, 2014 | 4:38 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

“It’s been heartbreaking,” said Yasmeen Serhan, a Palestinian-American student at the University of Southern California. “I’m simply mortified.”

On Tuesday, two Palestinians armed with guns burst into a synagogue in Israel, shooting .

Twenty-year-old Serhan remembers visiting Hebron just last summer and being told about an extremist Jewish man who entered a mosque and killed 29 Muslim worshipers. She felt horrified by the story, she said.

“I can’t believe that this is happening again 20 years later,” she said. “You can never justify killing innocent civilians, but when it’s people praying it’s even more mortifying.”

Sehran is one of two co-chairs USC’s chapter of J Street U and she constantly works to expose other students to a solution that will include two states in the land of Israel. 

Like Serhan, many students throughout California feel the need to react after learning that two Palestinians from East Jerusalem entered a synagogue in Jerusalem Tuesday and attacked Israeli residents who attended the morning prayer with axes and gunshots.

“Seeing those photos of open prayer books stained with blood on the synagogue’s floor next to dead men covered by talitot, that really hits close to home,” said Tomer Lipski, president of ‘SC Students for Israel (SCSI), a student organization at USC.

J Street U and SCSI released statements, in which they expressed grief and despair in light of the occurrences, through their social media pages within less than 12 hours of the attack.

At the University of California, Irvine, a group of students associated with various organizations plan to host a public candle lighting vigil on their campus Wednesday afternoon in memory of the men who died in the attack. 

“No amount of attacks will force us out of our homeland,” said Mati Cohen, the UCI student who put together the candle lighting initiative. “We, student leaders, should do something to show that this terrorist attack affects us here in the U.S.”

Four Israeli residents died while still in the synagogue, and eight were injured. One of the injured Israeli residents died from his wounds later in the afternoon. The Palestinian attackers were shot by police officers as they tried to flee from the scene, according to ynet News

“First and foremost, I think that the situation we’ve had from the summer until now is untenable,” said Serhan. “This sort of situation cannot last. A lot of real and careful attention needs to be focused on this area.”

Members of the religious community in Israel have also been using social media to express themselves. They have been calling for Israeli residents to attend the funeral of Zidan Saiif, a Druze police officer who was killed in the attack.

“We will be fair,” said 28-year-old Grisha Segal, an Israeli resident, to ynet News. “We will show thanks to those who sacrificed their lives for us.”

Members of the religious Jewish community in California feel the need to express their grief as well.

“I feel heartbroken,” said Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, the Hillel Rabbi Residence at USC. “I tweeted a lot about it. It was easier to tweet than talk about it. I’m in mourning. I’m also outraged.”

At a time like this, peace seems like the farthest goal attainable, he said. 

“We’re just caught in this ongoing and bitter war, which is why I don’t think we’re allowed to despair but need to be proactive in bringing good to the world to counter all this darkness. Fear and hatred will not lead us toward resolving this conflict if it can be resolved at all.”

Contact Staff Reporter Lior Haykeen here



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.