Israeli Fest Met By Peaceful Protestors
April 27, 2007 1:36 PM
Tension seemed inevitable Friday morning, as barricades and police stood as testament to what might be expected when two opposing viewpoints collide.
Despite protests by the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), the noontime Israeli Independence Day celebration put on by the San Francisco Hillel and The Israeli Coalition remained peaceful and respectful.
Held in Malcolm X plaza, the event marked the 59th year of Israeli freedom and was a celebration of music. It was met by protest in the form of signs reading “The Only Peace Israel Wants is the Last Piece of Palestine” and “Israel, You Betray The Memory of 6 million with your Brutal aggression in Palestine,” as well as others. Members of GUPS also waved flags in support of their cause. However, there was no violence.
The event began with music provided by the hip hop group Djoo Kroo, which consists of members Mor Ben-Shimon, 20, and Yotam Ben-Shimon, 21. They are cousins and are from Los Angeles. According to SF State student Jason Daks, who helped to bring the group to campus, was their first show in San Francisco.
“We’re excited,” said Mor. “It’s just another opportunity to meet new people and get the word out.”
Mor’s rap counterpart and cousin Yotam said that he was happy that the situation did not turn violent or disrespectful.
“We didn’t fight or anything,” he said in reference to supporters of Palestine sitting on the lawn. “They’re over there, but they could have been over here. We have power through music.”
“It was very subtle,” Mor said in agreement.
The highlight and greatest show of unity during the day was when rapper Killah Priest, a Wu Tang Clan affiliate, brought Mandeep Sethi onstage. This is because Sethi has different viewpoints than those of Killah Priest. After Sethi, an 18-year-old BECA freshman, performed a freestyle rap onstage, Killah Priest ignited the crowd with a declaration that “Only through Hip Hop can we have unity like this.”
Sethi said that he thought the event was very powerful because Palestinian supporters were simply there to be seen and because he was allowed to express his viewpoint on stage without repercussions.
“Revolution and revolutionary thought are born out of love,” he said. He also explained that some of the university coordinators of the event wanted him to get off stage, not the crowd.
Not everyone, however, was entirely pleased.
“It’s a musical event,” said Brian Gallagher, a 24-year-old political science and history major and GUPS member. “They want people over there, and a picture doesn’t show how many actually support Israel.”
Early on, Palestine supporters felt that the barricades made them seem like they were caged in.
“Apparently the cops put covers over the bars to make us feel more comfortable, and now they’re gone,” said Shaghayegh Pouriamehr, a 24-year-old microbiology senior. “Now we’re covering them up like always.”
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