UF Student Government President-Elect Michael Murphy traveled out of The Swamp to engage in international affairs this weekend.
Murphy attended the first day of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference on Sunday in Washington, D.C., Murphy wrote in an email. The conference lasted from Sunday to Tuesday.
He said the American Israel Public Affairs Committee partially covered his and his fellow student body presidents’ transportation to D.C. He paid less than $250 out of pocket to attend.
While already in D.C., Murphy also attended the signing of President Donald Trump’s executive order Thursday to back free speech on college campuses, although he said he didn’t attend the with UF Young Americans for Freedom.
Murphy’s support of Israel comes from various trips to Israel over the years. He said he will attend the Passages trip with UF Gators for Israel later this year.
“I am a strong supporter of the state of Israel and hope to lobby our elected leaders to speak out against anti-Semitism in Congress and to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Murphy said.
The Golan Heights are an area of land on the border of Syria and Israel that has been contested for more than 50 years, according to The Associated Press. On Monday, Trump signed a proclamation recognizing Israel’s claim to this territory.
According to the committee’s Twitter account, more than 270 student government presidents attended this year’s conference that ended Tuesday. Murphy said the conference is the largest gathering of student body presidents in the country.
“Eight of the past ten Student Body presidents attended the AIPAC policy conference,” Murphy said. “University of Florida Student Government has a strong history of supporting AIPAC and a stronger United States-Israel relationship.”
Murphy said despite differing opinions, he is firm in his support of Israel.
“If Israel put down all of their weapons tomorrow, there would be no more Israel,” Murphy said.
Rebecca Prince, the secretary for the UF chapter of Students Organize for Syria, a non-political humanitarian organization, said politics may change over time, but the suffering of Syrians should be the focus.
“Even though politics may wax and wane, the crisis is at its worst. Crises are on the long-term the hardest things to reduce,” the 20-year-old UF health science junior said. “The social implications of that are the hardest to deal with.”
Murphy’s support of Israel’s claim over the Golan Heights was probably made with the right intentions, but was ultimately misguided, Prince said.
“I don’t think he realizes what this means to the Syrian people,” Prince said.
Correction: This article was updated to reflect that Murphy attended the first day of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference on Sunday, and he will attend the Passages trip with UF Gators for Israel later this year. The Alligator previously reportedly differently after Murphy provided unclear information over email and did not respond to follow-up questions.
Michael Murphy stands with 2017-2018 UF Student Government President Smith Meyers and 2016-2017 SG Vice President Brendon Jonassaint at the Western Wall in Israel.