Chicago lit up with almost 15,000 people protesting Israel over the weekend in an attempt to send a message for a free Palestine. Attendees from all over the Chicagoland area descended to downtown Chicago, home of President Barack Obama, with placards denouncing Israel’s actions against Palestine. The anti-Israel protests come as thousands of Jews in Europe and other countries fear for their lives with the increasing rhetoric against the Middle Eastern country, a staunch U.S. ally.
While protests did not turn violent in Chicago, in Canada and elsewhere, violence broke out as pro-Israel protesters came out to defend their views.
“The tenor at some of the anti-Israel rallies has been extreme,” said a spokesman for the Anti- Defamation League in one online report, “with protesters chanting ‘Death to Israel’ and other hateful messages and slogans.”
Protesters waved the Palestinian flag down Michigan Avenue from Congress to Wacker Drive near the Israeli Consulate’s office before turning to State Street and marching back to Balbo Street and again returning to Michigan and Congress.
“Today, Chicago voiced it’s solidarity with Palestine,” Dr. Atiyeh Salem, one of the protesters of the Chicago event said. “All ages including educators, professionals, doctors, lawyers and business people, including the normal hard-working at Chicago area responded to the outcry of the Palestinians under the worst occupation that humanity has ever known.”
Over a 23-year period, Palestinians have killed more than 1,500 Israelis through suicide bombs and other attacks, 142 of the victims under the age of 18. Israel has continued to respond to the deaths with strategic airstrikes, hitting terrorist targets in the occupied regions of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Salem stated that the protest was in response to the attacks, which he described as an oppression of humanity and being ignored by international bodies and the media.
“All of these factors have caused natural response from the victims, when no Arab country or anyone will give a hand or pass any resolutions in the United Nations to defend the Palestinian people and support the Palestinian cause. This more than 15,000 demonstrators were asking for one thing: end the occupation,” he said.
Protests were held across the United States including in Dearborn, Michigan, Boston, Los Angeles, Calgary, Alberta, and Toronto in Canada, as well as other places. Chicago’s was one of the largest held on Sunday.
Meanwhile, pro-Israeli protests were held in opposition to the cries from Palestinians to support the Jewish State, which has been attacked a number of times by Arab nations. While Palestinians protest the current situation, Israelis were protesting the multiple organizations and states, such as Hezbollah and Syria, who declare that the only solution to the decades-long conflict is the destruction of Israel.
The problem has spread into Europe, where an increasing number of residents have started to regurgitate anti-Israeli viewpoints from earlier eras, blaming Israel for the problems plaguing the Middle Eastern nation despite the invasions and suicide bombings. Increased attacks against Jews and Jewish populations in Europe have also increased, creating an unsafe and fearful environment for the population.