BOBBY CAINA CALVAN and JAKE BLEIBERG, Associated Press
1 month ago
Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of the White House in Washington, Sunday, October 8, 2023. Supporters of Israel and supporters of the Palestinian cause gathered in many American cities on Sunday to denounce the conflict that has left hundreds deaths and thousands of injuries in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
NEW YORK — Supporters of Israel and those of the Palestinian cause held competing rallies in several American cities on Sunday to denounce the conflict that has left hundreds dead and thousands injured in the Middle East.
In New York, a skirmish broke out between opposing protesters near the United Nations complex after a large group of Palestinian supporters gathered in Times Square. Palestinian Americans demonstrated outside Israeli consulates in Atlanta and Chicago. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a Jewish community rally in support of Israel at a San Francisco synagogue.
The protests and involvement of U.S. political leaders show the broad ramifications of a conflict that has already prompted the United States to order the deployment of naval forces to the Eastern Mediterranean, ready to help Israel. Here’s what the reactions looked like across the country:
In New York, police surrounded the United Nations complex as dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered a block away, chanting and waving flags. Metal barricades kept them on the sidewalks as officers worked to separate them from an opposing group across the street, some waving Israeli flags.
As some pro-Palestinian demonstrators left, men shouting and waving Israeli flags broke through the barricades. A brief skirmish broke out in the crowd, with one man tearing down an Israeli flag and throwing it onto the sidewalk, where people trampled it. The police quickly separated the two camps.
“We want to show the world that when Palestine rises in resistance, the diaspora rises with it,” Munir Atalla of the Palestinian Youth Movement said before the fight.
In Times Square, social media earlier showed a gathering of Palestinian supporters, with police barricades separating the crowd from a pro-Israel group. The pro-Palestinians eventually walked away chanting “Free Palestine, free, long live Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” while tourists and spectators took photos.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, condemned the planned pro-Palestinian rally in a statement Saturday evening, calling it “abhorrent and morally repugnant.” Other New York political leaders have issued similar statements.
In Atlanta, more than 75 people demonstrated Sunday afternoon in front of the Israeli consulate, chanting slogans of support for Hamas and calling for an end to American aid to Israel.
“We are here because we believe that everyone in the United States is funding Israeli apartheid,” said Natalie Villasana, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. She said U.S. military aid would be better spent on solving problems in the United States, although protesters also argued that Hamas’ actions were justified by Israeli actions.
Talia Segal, a student at nearby Georgia Tech, came as a counter-protester, carrying an Israeli flag bordered by the rainbow of the LGBTQ+ pride movement.
“Terrorism is never justified. Their target was Israeli civilians,” said Segal, who is Jewish and says she fears for her family in Israel.
In Chicago, Priscilla Reed was among hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters who gathered in front of the Israeli consulate. Many waved Palestinian flags or wore keffiyehs, these black and white checkered scarves which now symbolize Palestinian solidarity. Their chants, in English and Arabic, included: “Netanyahu, you will see, Palestine will be free!” »
Reed, a retired teacher, said the Hamas attacks were a response to Israel’s “daily systemic violence against the Palestinians.”
Bleiberg reported from Dallas. Associated Press journalists Anthony Izaguirre and Bobby Caina Calvan in New York, Jeff Amy and Alex Sanz in Atlanta and Sophia Tareen in Chicago contributed to this report.