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Congressman Burgess Owens Speaks at YAF Pro-Israel Event

YAF held their ‘Show Up, Show Out for Israel’ event on Friday afternoon outside the Union building.
Luke Larsen
Areound 30 students and Salt Lake residents gather and listen to U.S. Representative Burgess Owens during the “Show Up, Show Out For Israel” Rally hosted by the Young Americans For Freedom at the University of Utah group on the A. Ray Olpin University Union Plaza at the University of Utah on Friday, Nov. 17 2023. (Photo by Luke Larsen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


“We the people will come together and fight for freedom, for the rights to survive and against total evil,” Congressman Burgess Owens said, opening Young Americans for Freedom’s “Show Up, Show Out for Israel” event on Friday afternoon.

As the war between Israel and Hamas continues, YAF held an event to show their support for Israel through group prayer. Speakers included Owens and John P. Mertens, an attorney, who discussed recent antisemitism on college campuses and support for Israel.

A Jewish student who wanted to remain anonymous said they attended the event because they have experienced discrimination on campus.

“I just hope that people can recognize that being pro-Israel does not mean being against the Palestinian people,” they said. “Two things can be true at once and that support for our country doesn’t mean the extermination of another country.”

Around 30 people attended the event outside of the A. Ray Olpin University Union Building holding Israeli flags and wearing pins that said, “I condemn Hamas.”

Students and Salt Lake residents gather for the “Show Up, Show Out For Israel” rally hosted by the Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Utah group on the A. Ray Olpin University Union Plaza in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. (Photo by Luke Larsen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

The event started with the “Prayer for the State of Israel” read by Mertens. The prayer, according to Mertens, is frequently read in synagogues for the protection of Israel.

Owens took the stand shortly after, praising YAF for their willingness to spread the concept of conservatism and “embracing all people around our country, no matter what their background is.”

“We have one thing in common as Americans — and that is power to the people,” he said.

In connection to antisemitism, Owens compared his own upbringing as a Black man in the deep South, having experienced the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow era and segregation.

“I know what it is to experience walking into a room and feeling hate,” he said. “And that was something we were getting past. We’ve come so far as a country.”

Owens said he thinks that recently, college campuses have been teaching students to be unempathetic, adding instead of pointing out evil, he thinks it’s often applauded.

For example, Owens brought up recent events throughout the country, including a pro-Palestinian event at the University of Maryland during which “Holocaust 2.0” was written on the ground, and Jewish MIT students being warned about their physical safety during pro-Palestine protests.

In response, Owens said he calls for an immediate $6 billion freeze in funds towards schools who don’t address the rise in pro-Hamas sentiments.

Owens concluded and said he is behind YAF and the attendees.

“Because we do believe in doing the right things, and being on the right side and being on the right side of history,” he said.

Mertens spoke about current hostages in Gaza and experiencing antisemitism as a Jewish man.

“The Gaza Strip invaded Israel to kill, torture and kidnap innocent civilians,” he said.

Mertens said there have been events of antisemitism on college campuses, and encouraged students to “face the adversity by being proud of your Jewish heritage, being proud of your Jewish friends and proud of your Jewish soul.”

“You’re in good company,” he said. “There’s many people who support the Jewish community right here in Utah.”

In an interview with the Chronicle, Owens said, “We are realizing now that we have a lot of young people being taught to stand on the wrong side of history, and we are going to change that.”

Owens attributed this to the wrong people teaching and deciding the curriculum within the school systems.

“And now we see that they’re coming out hating our country, hating other people, hat[ing] Jewish people and that is not who we are,” he said.

Lucy Atwood, president of YAF, said the event went well.

“I support Israel because they are the only democracy in the Middle East,” she said. “They are the only ones that aren’t discriminating against minorities, and there’s no apartheid happening in Israel.”

200 Israeli flags placed in memorial of the civilian hostages at the “Show Up, Show Out For Israel” rally hosted by the Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Utah group on the A. Ray Olpin University Union Plaza in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. (Photo by Luke Larsen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


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About the Contributors
Libbey Hanson, News Writer
(she/her) Libbey is a second-year graduate student in the MPA program studying public policy and administration. She is most interested in environmental policy and social justice issues. You can usually find her in the mountains hiking and skiing or reading and writing at a local coffee shop.
Luke Larsen, Photographer
(he/him) Luke started at the Chronicle in the fall of 2023. He is currently studying anthropology. He has worked as a professional portrait photographer since 2021 in Waco, Texas, where he has lived for the past ten years. He is originally from Los Angeles, California and loves Dim Sum.

Comments (2)

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  • S

    Sean WrightNov 20, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    Really embarrassing that an institution such as the U that touts itself on being progressive should send an email titled with this article to our Umail inboxes, thereby giving a huge platform to a clownish organization such as YAF which directly harms the women, minorities, and trans people the school claims to care about. You’d think that our school would be able to take a stronger stand against a nation that has actively prosecuted ethnic cleansing for decades and an institution which implicitly calls for violence against queer people, but I guess I would be wrong for expecting anybody involved in the U’s administration to have a spine.

  • J

    John HedbergNov 19, 2023 at 8:33 am

    A lot of racist Marxists these days like to paint Burgess Owens with the hate-label “white supremacist”, despite the fact that he habitually stands up for people in every community. He gave some interesting comments on abortion at a House Judiciary Committee hearing not long ago, which he sees as giving a voice to the voiceless. The YouTube video is titled “Burgess Owens Blasts Janet Yellen for ‘Deeply Offensive Comments'”, offensive to him because of history he lays out.

    Worth watching to the end, no matter how you parse your own personal stance on abortion. People will often surprise you, if you take the time to listen.

    J Hedberg