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The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

New pro-Israel student organization raises $18,000

Naina Srivastava
People wave Israel flags to protest a “teach in” organized by Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine on April 25, 2024.

A new pro-Israel student organization at the University of Texas raised $18,000 to support future events and guest speakers.

The Longhorn Students For Israel officially became a registered student organization at UT on April 17, now serving as the “primary channel for pro-Israel work on campus,” according to its constitution. The group hit its fundraising goal in only a week, bolstered by over 100 donors and three anonymous benefactors who matched donations.

“Having this will allow us to exist for the next year and afford events and all the ideas that we have to come this Fall,” said Ben Sherman, founder of the organization. 

After the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, Sherman said he felt it was important to create a safe and educational space for students to come together. On the following Sunday, he and co-founder Nurit Pesel began planning a vigil at the UT Tower.

“In the next 20 hours, we put together a flier and sent it around,” Sherman said. “We had over 600 people come, and we had speakers, and we lit candles and we said some prayers.” 

The vigil attracted a base of supporters for future events, and some even joined Sherman and Pesel’s efforts to organize. On March 5, they collaborated with Texas Chabad to host guest speaker Neta Abir Lev, a survivor of the Nova music festival massacre in Israel. The pair also screened a documentary about the festival attack on April 17 at Texas Hillel.

LSFI officers said over the summer they plan to develop committees, host a book club and organize guest speaker events for the fall semester.

The organization also confirmed they were in “direct communication” with the University concerning “threats facing our campus” with the April 25 pro-Palestine protest on campus that led to 57 arrests, according to their Instagram. They released a statement today conveying their appreciation for the University’s “proactive” response to the protests. 

“We count ourselves lucky to be at a flagship university in a state that honors the difference between free protests and acts of hate,” the organization said on Instagram. “We are grateful that, above all else, our University commits itself to its values of truth and freedom.”

“Unofficially, we’ve been around for six months — officially, only a weekend,” Sherman said. “It’s the start of hopefully six years and many more to come.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Longhorn Students for Israel collaborated with Texas Hillel to host guest speaker Neta Abir Lev. The Texan regrets this error.

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About the Contributor
Naina Srivastava, Senior News Reporter & Senior Photographer
Naina is a freshman journalism major from Mountain View, California. She is currently a senior news reporter and senior photographer at the Texan.