Student Newswire of The University of Arizona School of Journalism

Arizona Sonoran News

Arizona Sonoran News

Student Newswire of The University of Arizona School of Journalism

Arizona Sonoran News

Peaceful ‘All Out For Palestine’ rally brings out all sides

With Highland Avenue as a dividing line, both sides send a message
Jackson Kimball
Pro-Palestine protesters wave flags in support of a ceasefire in Gaza.

A diverse crowd of University of Arizona students, professors, law enforcement, pro-Palestinian activists and pro-Israeli activists turned out Thursday afternoon on the UA campus for the “All Out for Palestine” rally.


The event, organized by the UA chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, was in response to the ongoing fighting along the Gaza strip and escalating aggressions between Israel and Iran. 


The rally capped the Students for Justice in Palestine’s “Israel Apartheid Week,” which began on Monday, April 22. and included multiple informational workshops teaching about Zionism in Israel/Palestine. 


Other pro-Palestinian activist groups including the Tucson Party for Socialism and Liberation, Arizona Palestine Solidarity Alliance and the Tucson Anti-War were also present at Thursday’s event, which kicked off at 11:30 a.m. with pro-Palestine supporters chanting familiar phrases like “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Rally participants also read Palestinian inspired poetry and condemned the UA for being “explicit in genocide” to a crowd of less than 100.


The number of protestors gradually grew as speakers continued until it topped 150 around noon when the group started to march. 


Maha Nassar, a UA professor and faculty advisor for the Students for Justice in Palestine, said that student-led demonstrations like this one were extremely important examples of free speech on campus. 


Nassar said one of the intentions of the protest was to raise awareness about the connection between the UA and the conflict in the Middle East.  


“Those bombs and weapons that are used to kill Palestinians and destroy their universities, many of them are produced and actually developed by companies that the University of Arizona has direct either investments in or collaboration with,” Nassar said. 


The UA has made capital investments in companies including Raytheon and Caterpillar Technologies, which pro-Palestinian activists are at odds with because those companies supply weapons and demolition equipment to Israel. 


Nassar said student involvement in these kinds of rallies fuels democratic discussion. 


“I think it is important for students to be active and to be able to express their views and be politically active because that is the basis of our democracy,” she said.


The pro-Palestine march around campus had a turn out of around 150 and walked up and down campus chanting with megaphones.


As the march rounded the turn at Old Main, UA Assistant Police Chief Mario Leon sat watch in a patrol cart. 


“When it comes to events like this, we’re usually looped in,” Leon said. “We’re here for safety purposes and again, just making sure that everyone can come to campus and study on campus and work on campus.”


In the midst of the procession, many protesters flew Palestinian flags and held up hand-made signs criticizing U.S. involvement in the war. Suda Bellinger marched with a handmade replica of a dead baby and a Palestinian flag sprouting from their backpack.


“Colleges all across the U.S. are trying to stand up and be united and they’re being shut down,” Bellinger said. “Our freedom of speech is one of the main things that we have here and it’s coming to our attention that we don’t have that.” 


Bellinger said she hoped the rally could draw attention to the cause and that she felt the last six months of rallies had been effective in making people aware within the community. 


“A lot of people are inspired,” she said.


Jackson Kimball
Suda Bellinger is a regular at rallies and advocates for a ceasefire in Gaza.


The march continued peacefully and without interruption, rounding its way back to the Student Union Memorial Center, briefly stopping for speakers and then returning to the UA Mall.


When the procession returned, a small group of around 20 people dressed in blue and hoisting up an Israeli flag had formed on the opposite side of Highland Avenue, across from the pro-Palestinian protesters. 

Jackson Kimball
Pro-Zionist protesters rallied across Highland. Wanting to make their presence known in the face of pro-Palestine activists.

“The anti-Israel people had their ‘All Out for Palestine’ rally today and I just want to say, it’s a little pathetic,” said Joshua Guise, a Jewish student. 


“We came here today to have a presence and to say that we’re not gonna let them control the narrative. We’re not gonna let them take over,” Guise said, pointing to the demonstrators across the walkway. 


Guise said that he and other Jewish students in support of Israel on campus feel threatened by some of the rhetoric expressed by pro-Palestinian protesters. 


“We wanted to show all of the Jews on this campus that they are not alone,” Guise said. “If you look at Columbia, if you look at a lot of these schools, the Jews are afraid.” 


Guise said popular pro-Palestinian chants like “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” are anti-semetic. Guise referenced a less popular Arabic translation of the phrase, sometimes chanted at pro-Palestine rallies, including today’s, that goes, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Arab.”  


“You can’t have a meaningful conversation with people who are chanting this sort of thing,” Guise said.      


Across Highland Avenue, which served as a dividing line between the two parties, a couple of members from Jewish Voices for Peace were standing near the back of the crowd. 

Jackson Kimball
Pro-Zionist students and pro-Palestine students are divided by Highland Ave. on campus at today’s rally.

“Jewish Voice for Peace is a national group and I’m a member of the chapter here in Tucson,” said 1985 UA alumnus Sarah Roberts. “We’re not against Israel, we’re not for getting rid of the country of Israel. We’re working on bringing out what the truth about Zionism is.” 


Roberts said that she and the Tucson chapter of Jewish Voices for Peace are committed to educating people on why they feel Zionism is destructive and negatively impacting the people of Israel/Palestine. 


“We also need to inform people that being pro-Palestine is not anti-semetic,” Roberts said. She said that she feels people interpret what is being chanted at rallies as being anti-semetic or threatening, but she thinks that they are neither. 


“What feels threatening? This is a peaceful demonstration where people are speaking and walking and chanting, but there’s no aggression,” she said. 


Roberts said she “absolutely” has hope for productive discussions between Zionist supporters like Guise and herself at future rallies.


Arizona Sonoran News is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism. 




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Jackson Kimball
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