October 12, 2023

Hundreds show solidarity with Palestine, Israel on opposite sides of Monument Circle

Hundreds of people in pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups gathered in Monument Circle Thursday night to show support for their respective sides in the Middle East conflict.

On one side of Monument Circle, a pro-Palestinian group called for an end to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

On the other, a group of pro-Israel counter-protestors gathered to show their support for the country following a violent attack from the terrorist group Hamas last weekend.

Malkah Bird is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace Indiana and helped organize the pro-Palestinian event.

“Our goal tonight is just to show there is a place where everybody can live peacefully. It does not have to be one or the other,” she said.

Bird called for the U.S. to de-escalate the conflict and create a ceasefire.

Protestors said that Gaza is experiencing a humanitarian crisis. Israel has cut off food, water, fuel, and electricity in retaliation for the attack Hamas carried out in Israel's southern towns that left at least 1,300 people dead, NPR reported.

Mohammad, who did not give WFYI his last name citing safety concerns, said he worries for his family members in Palestine.

“They have been in a hallway for an entire week because they don’t want to risk the chance of mourning each other,” he said. “...I haven’t had time to process the entire thing so I can be here for my community and give them this outlet to come out today.”

MOREWhy Hamas and Israel reached this moment now — and what comes next

Across the circle, Marina Teremets, an Israeli resident, is part of a counter-protest. She was visiting Indianapolis when her flight home was canceled because of the conflict.

“We heard this pro-Palestinian thing is happening and no representation on the Israeli side and that’s the least we can do for our country,” she said. “...We don’t know how long to rent Airbnbs for, how long to rent cars for — we just don’t know.”

Allon Friedman, who helped organize the pro-Israel rally with the Jewish American Affairs Committee of Indiana, denied it was specifically in response to the pro-Palestinian event across the plaza. 

“We did this because we thought it was very important for the Jews to show ourselves during this difficult time in public,” the Carmel resident said “To show we’re unified and proud and not afraid,” he said.

Thursday's rally caused candidates for Indianapolis mayor, incumbent Democrat Joe Hogsett and Republican challenger Jefferson Shreve, to weigh in.

"We condemn terrorism in the strongest terms, and encourage all residents to affirm and uplift one another as we hope and pray for a swift and lasting peace," Hogsett posted on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

Shreve responded and said Hogsett should not allow the rally to take place at the memorial.

"As mayor, I would do everything in my power to stop a group with this vile outlook from assembling on property dedicated to Americans who have died for our country," Shreve posted in a separate message on X.

Indiana state and federal officials have also released statements showing support for Israel.

This story has been updated.

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