On Thurs., May 8th, the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago is hosting an Independence Day Gala in celebration of Israel’s 60th Anniversary, beginning at 7:00pm at Welsh Ryan Arena, with doors opening at 5:30. The event, expected to draw 10,000, features Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Israeli musician David Broza, and comedian Jeff Garlin. The event is reportedly sold out but the Hillel organization may have access to additional free tickets.
While the event is intended as one of joy, I have been asked to publicize to the neighborhood that heightened security, including armed government agents, will be in place. Weisel was attacked in early 2007, and there has been some speculation that the anniversary will be used as an opportunity for a terror attack somewhere (while Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, May 8 marks 60 years by the Jewish calendar). Thus neighbors not planning to attend should consider avoiding the stadium neighborhood because of traffic, and children and teens should be cautioned against play, behavior, or remarks that could be misconstrued by security forces.
I was not advised that anyone has received any threat specific to Evanston or this event, and I do not wish to contribute to unnecessary fear, or suggest that NU should not host such events; however, traffic and increased security will be realities, and Evanston has not been immune from rare but tragic hate violence. Thus common sense caution seems reasonable.