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The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

Courthouse rally held in support for Palestine

Alexander Banks
Over 100 protestors gathered in front of the Benton County Courthouse on Oct. 21. They carried signs with phrases like “Free Palestine.”

More than 100 protestors gathered in front of the Benton County Courthouse chanting slogans such as “free Palestine,” “stop the genocide” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

Earlier today at noon, the Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights held a rally in support for Palestine in front of the Benton County Circuit Court.

They held signs calling for a ceasefire, an end to occupation and apartheid and even had Jewish support for their cause. 

“I think it’s so important for our representatives, and let everyone know that this matters to people,” said Mary Hare, an organizer from the Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights organization. 

Hare was “really happy” about the turnout at the rally this afternoon. She believes that it really shows that this is an issue that people really care about and want to be involved in. Especially since the organization has had rallies in the past with a much smaller turnout. 

“I’m happy to be in a community that cares about this issue,” Hare said.

Valeri George, another organizer, estimated that “well over 100 people” showed up to support rallying efforts, as opposed to the 25 who showed up last Saturday. 

“It’s not a conflict. It’s 70 years of oppression, apartheid, occupation, demonization (and) dehumanization of Palestinians,” George said. 

Hare believes that calling the situation between Israel and Palestine a conflict would imply that there are two equal sides, which according to her, “is not the case in Palestine.” 

“These are occupied people who don’t have the freedom to leave,” Hare said. “They’re dependent on Israel, an occupying power, for food and water.” 

Since 2007, a blockade on land, air and sea has been imposed on Gaza by Israel, according to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees. Sixty-three percent of people in Gaza are food insecure, 81.5% of the population live in poverty, clean water is unavailable for 95% of the population and more, according to UNRWA. 

This blockade followed after Hamas, an Islamist militant movement and one of two major political parties in the Palestinian territories – according to the Council of Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan nonprofit American think-tank – took control of Gaza.  

Ismail Warsame, a Corvallis resident and rally supporter, would describe the situation between Israel and Palestine as a “very clear violation of international law right before our eyes.”

George said she was outraged and disgusted at the United States support for Israel. She compared her emotions to what she felt in 2001, when the U.S. waged war with Afghanistan.

“Did we not learn anything?” George said. 

On Oct. 11, Time Magazine reported that the Biden administration is collaborating with Congress to send an aid package to Israel of around $2 billion that would fund their Iron Dome missile-defense system, artillery shells and other munitions.

On Oct. 20, CNBC reported that the administration has requested more than $105 billion from Congress to support Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and the U.S southern border. An allocation of $14.3 billion will go to Israel.

WMFE, Central Florida’s National Public Radio, reported that since 1946, the U.S. has cumulatively funded Israel more than any other country – over $300 billion. During the past decade and a half, they have given Israel $3 to $4 billion a year in military aid. 

“Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are not the same thing,” Hare said. “There’s so many Jews on the left who feel the same way.”

George mentioned the Jewish Voice for Peace, an anti-Zionist left-wing Jewish activist organization in the U.S., created an “Action Alert” urging President Biden to call for a ceasefire.

As of now, they have over 64,000 supporters, with a goal of 70,000.

The group was founded in 1996, and according to them, they support the liberation of all people and want to dismantle institutions and structures that sustain injustice. 

“A ceasefire should have happened by now,” Warsame said. “Any continuation of otherwise is only going to guarantee more deaths and more civilian casualties.” 

Warsame repeated words he said were told to him by his mentor, a professor and former Israel Defense Force officer – Alexander Graham – “people of goodwill, whether they’re Jewish or not, are anti-occupation.”

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  • J

    JGOct 22, 2023 at 12:28 pm

    Incredibly biased reporting as well highly inaccurate. Shame on the author.

    • A

      ABMDec 5, 2023 at 2:33 pm

      Although I agree the statements by community members are appalling, you must recognize the reporter is presenting what happened in our community, so their reporting is not inaccurate, it is an appropriate portrayal of the sentiments of some of our community members. Please refrain from making such kneejerk responses because they do not help our cause.