Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at the University of Arizona is a new chapter that is committed to educating the campus in regards to Israel and the truth about the conflict, and their president Ron Khirman is someone who is passionate about the cause.
Ron is originally from Israel, and moved to the Bay Area in San Francisco from a young age. He is currently a senior double majoring in marketing and entrepreneurship, and enjoys spending his free time with his friends.
Ron’s story of involvement with SSI is one that shows how got SSI started at Arizona, “I actually have friends that were pretty involved in SSI chapters or started their own chapters around the US. That got me motivated, and at some point during the semester, I decided to take initiative and create a club that is very pro-Israel and promotes activism because that’s not something that we really have here on our campus.”
He was motivated to get involved with pro-Israel advocacy because, “honestly, it came down to Pittsburgh. I was always an advocate and am big into politics, always knowledgeable on what’s going on. It all tied in together because I am one of the few Israeli’s that have lived in America and know how to talk to American Jews or Americans in general. Seeing the rising anti-Semitism on both the left and the right and seeing events like Pittsburg, and now even with San Diego, it felt like it was the right time to expose our campus to what is really going on. Even though we thought our campus does not have a huge anti-Israel bias, we learned soon after that it hides in the darkness. That’s what we found out when creating the SSI chapter; what we wanted to create was more of a social club for Israelis or anyone thats pro-Israel that wanted to chill and eat Bamba, but realized soon after that we have a big responsibility. We started to see the anti-Semitism spreading on our campus. Someone even said that they wanted to rob us for wearing our SSI shirts and walking around on campus. I felt like it was necessary to make our voices heard”.
The climate in Tucson is calm in nature, “SJP and JVP exist and have a decent presence, but we don’t see people with flags at the mall, laying down on the ground, or showing pictures of dead babies. It’s not in your face relative to other campuses, but it definitely does hide in the darkness”.
Ron would like to see his campus become more open, “I’d like to see discussion. I only have a year left, so the first major thing is to see the club continue to exist and flourish. The second thing I’d like to see is an open forum for discussion. It’s there, its present, people know about what’s happening in the world, so we want to be the liaisons for discussion”.
The most recent event that their chapter had that really stood out to Ron was one of their first social gatherings, “We put up tapestries and carpets, had a speaker, Israeli music, Bamba, Bissli, and just chilled. People walked by trying to understand what we were, and we got to educate people that came over to us. It was a nice social event where we got to showcase our presence”.
SSI and pro-activism in general has kept Ron active throughout his weeks, “I feel like the light has been ignited again with my pro-Israel activism and finding myself. It’s nice to create a community and find a community where I can connect with people that have similar interests that I do and hold the same values”.
10 years from now, Ron hopes to be a successful CEO working on startups, and doing what he loves.
When I asked Ron what advice he would like to give to SSI members across the country, his response was short but powerful, “If you will it, it’s no dream”.