Pro-Israel protesters rally against pro-Palestine encampment

Hundreds of pro-Israel students and community members marched from the Oval to White Plaza on Sunday afternoon to protest “terrorist support” on campus. 

The pro-Israel protest was an Interfaith Rally organized by the L’Chayim Club to oppose “calls for death on our campus” and demand the University “enforce school policy and ensure student safety.”

Pro-Israel protesters rally against pro-Palestine encampment
(Photo: CAYDEN GU/The Stanford Daily)

Separated by a row of security and a strip of road, pro-Israel protestors chanted in the direction of pro-Palestine protesters, who congregrated around the student encampment, beat drums and lobbied chants in response. 

Over 100 pro-Palestine students protested to “defend” the encampment, at the other side of White Plaza. Stanford Against Apartheid in Palestine (SAAP), the organizers of the pro-Palestine encampment, wrote that they would not “stand idly as these inter-fascist forces … threaten the safety of our students and the encampment.” 

The encampment was reestablished on April 25 during Admit Weekend, following the February removal of the 120-day Sit-in to Stop Genocide, amid a national wave of pro-Palestine protests on university campuses.

Pro-Israel protesters rally against pro-Palestine encampmentPro-Israel protesters rally against pro-Palestine encampment
(Photo: CAYDEN GU/The Stanford Daily)

Pro-Israel protestors gathered before the White Plaza main stage across from the pro-Palestine encampment, before they were asked to leave by security and the Stanford University Department of Public Safety. SUDPS did not respond to requests for comment. 

“They didn’t say anything to the other side, even though we were being peaceful, and we did get permits, and we did get approval,” said Amalia Abecassis ’27.

Several protestors at the pro-Israel demonstration carried flags, primarily Israeli, American and Indian with some from other countries. Abecassis, a pro-Israel student organizer, told The Daily they hoped to bring together different communities to stand against antisemitism, such as an indivdual photographed in a Hamas headband on April 30. Stanford forwarded the image to federal authorities. 

Edith Cohen Ph.D. ’91 said she was shocked at the disinformation spread on U.S. campuses and by the media. She expressed hope that the encampment would call “for the dismantling of Hamas.”

Pro-Israel protesters rally against pro-Palestine encampmentPro-Israel protesters rally against pro-Palestine encampment
(Photo: CAYDEN GU/The Stanford Daily)

The demonstrations occurred on Mother’s Day, a synchronicity that resonated with Sameena Usman, a pro-Palestine protester. 

“I’m here on this Mother’s Day to stand in solidarity with all the mothers who have lost their children or all the children who have lost their mother in this war,” Usman said. 

Cohen said that as a mother, she too felt “very, very sad … to see babies and see other mothers crying for their babies,” but that Israel was left with no choice but war after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.

Pro-Israel student organizers like Noah Maltzman ’25, who is also a Daily sports staff writer, also expressed concerns about hateful rhetoric. He said as a Jewish person, he wanted to stand up to hate, especially from those who echo historical persecution and “want Jews dead.”

“I’m tired of being the scared Jew I am. I wear a kippah, always, but I wear a hat on top because I’m scared,” Maltzman said. 

As he ran for Undergraduate Senate, people called Maltzman “a Zionist Nazi, a pig,” and threatened to dox him. 

Maltzman said he believed students were misled by external organizations who took over the encampment with hateful rhetoric, affecting people from several backgrounds including “Israeli, Jewish, Palestinian, Muslim” students, he said. 

Bay Area local Jack F., who was granted partial anonymity due to fear of retaliation, said he wanted to support the pro-Palestine encampment. He was cautioned not to participate by his family because he’s Jewish, Jack said.

“From what I hear from my family, people here want to kill me, and that’s not true,” Jack said. 

Similarly, Michael Batchelder, a member of Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) said “it’s hard to be a part of the mainstream Jewish community when I see the … ugly politics.”

Pro-Israel protesters rally against pro-Palestine encampmentPro-Israel protesters rally against pro-Palestine encampment
(Photo: CAYDEN GU/The Stanford Daily)

Attendees from other communities articulated similar disagreements with others despite shared cultural identities. Dozens of pro-Israel protesters carried Indian flags. At the pro-Palestine encampment, other protestors carried banners reading “Hindus for Human Rights” and “#VoteOut HitlerModi.”

Satish Chandra, a Santa Clara resident who serves on the Chief Advisory Committee for the Santa Clara Police Department, spoke on behalf of pro-Israel Hindu allies, some of whom were affiliated with the Hindu American Foundation, at the demonstration. 

Chandra called on Indian Americans to support Israel. “I am here standing with humanity … standing with the people who have been facing terrorist attacks and are constantly getting attacked and bullied every day,” Chandra told The Daily.

To Chandra, a historical arc exists between terror attacks in India and Israel.

Stanford student Aatika, who requested anonymity due to fear of retaliation, drew a different historical arc: She said as a Dalit student, she acutely understood how violence and discrimination across different countries was connected. 

“I’m holding a poster that says that we need to vote out Hitler and Modi because there’s uncanny similarities between how both have operated, one in the past and one currently,” Aatika said. 

Pro-Israel protesters rally against pro-Palestine encampmentPro-Israel protesters rally against pro-Palestine encampment
(Photo: KAUSHIK SAMPATH/The Stanford Daily)

Similarly, Anuradha Bhagwati, a member of the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, said the pro-Israel protest brought together several issues: “ I’ve seen the rise of Hindutva in India, and the growing oppression against Muslims in India and in the United States. I feel like it’s my obligation to connect the dots.”

Ajinkya Ashok and Prasanna Gaibhive, members of the Ambedkar-King Study Circle, agreed.

“The Ambedkarite position is that injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere,” Ashok said. “We see that the Palestinian struggles are the struggles of the oppressed.” 

Nancy Wagner, a pro-Israel demonstrator, wore a Biden-Harris shirt and carried an American flag with a peace symbol in one corner. “My personal interests are for peace … and a two-state solution.”

While Wagner supported free expression on each side, she discouraged vitriolic language and hate speech. “I’d like to see a little more empathy on both sides,” Wagner said.

The pro-Israel demonstration ended at the Oval without incident. Pro-Palestine supporters also dispersed, and the pro-Palestine encampment remains in White Plaza. 

A previous version of this article misrepresented the date the encampment was established as April 26. — the encampment was established April 25. The Daily regrets this error.

Caroline Chen and Jessica Zhu contributed reporting.

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