The Pro-Israel Rally & Pro-Palestine Protest at UT
The Texans for Israel student organization at UT organized a rally in support of Israel. About a week before the rally was scheduled, anti-Israel students organized to protest the rally. I was there showing support for Israel and I was very impressed by how well Texans for Israel handled the pressure, as well as disappointed at the behavior of the Anti-Israel protesters.
One thing that was made clear about the Pro-Israel rally is that it was not an Anti-Palestine rally. We were condemned by the protesters as Anti-Palestine, but this was not the case at all. Every person I talked to who showed up to support Israel said they felt bad for the innocent Palestinians enduring the hell in Gaza. Time and time again, the Pro-Israel speakers as well as people in the audience stressed that it is Hamas they are against, not Palestine.
"Free The Palestinians From Hamas." To me that seems like something everyone should support, regardless of how they feel about about Israel's actions. This was not the case, and I found out that many of the Anti-Israel protesters actually sympathize with, or even support Hamas. This is really the root of what disturbs me about these protesters. I feel terrible for those who have died in this conflict, but why are people so quick to blame Israel for every person who dies in Palestine? Why does no one protest how Hamas has used active schools as sites to build weapons? Hamas is so evil that they are willing to put their own children in harm's way to provide propoganda against Israel.
The Anti-Israel protesters were loud and chanted in a way that was reminiscent of the sheep in George Orwell's Animal Farm. The most obnoxious thing they would do was yell "LIAR!" at a speaker whenever they made a good point in their speech, no matter how ridiculous. At one point a speaker mentioned how Israel had a daily three hour ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, a statement which would never be contested in a reasonable discussion, but of course the protesters shouted, "LIAR!"
What I think spoke volumes about the difference in behavior between the two groups is that the protesters disrupted our prayers (one in Hebrew and one in English) by shouting "war criminals" and "baby killers" at us. Then the Anti-Israel protesters took the stage and asked for a moment of silence for those who had died in Palestine, and all but one or two of the Pro-Israel group were silent and respectful. (A few tried to be vocal about the fact that they had no respect for our prayers, but other Texans for Israel members quickly shushed them.) Texans for Israel had a message to send and they sent it well: We will not stoop down the same level as the Anti-Israel protesters. It made me very proud to be a part of a peace rally that was so well behaved despite the incredibly antagonizing attitude of the Anti-Israel protesters, some of whom were openly looking to start a fight.
Despite how intense it became at the rally, there was still laughter to be heard. One of the speakers used a quote from Barack Obama supporting Israel. This angered one of the socialist protesters who yelled, "You know, Barack Obama used to be Pro-Palestine before you assholes... changed his mind." There was laughter within the Pro-Israel crowd and then we returned our attention to the speaker.
Also, I saw a t-shirt that had a Texas and Israel flag on the back and said, "Texas isn't the only Lone Star State." I want that t-shirt. If it's not being sold anymore I'll probably just make one for myself.
Here's a short video I took at the rally before my camera battery died. (I forgot to charge it, stupid I know.)
Credit for the first picture in this post goes to my friend Eric Hofstetter.