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Pro-Palestinians, pro-Israelis hold opposing demonstrations

July 1, 2020

StandWithUs billboard truck in front of the Star of India on San Diego’s Embarcadero

In contrast to the outreach program of the House of Israel, sometimes anti-Israel propaganda needs to be countered in real time.  Various pro-Palestinian groups, anticipating that Israel would move to annex cities in Judea and Samaria on Wednesday, July 1, decided to call for a “Day of Rage” in cities throughout North America.  Among the cities targeted was San Diego, where such groups as Al Awda, Students for Justice in Palestine, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Black Lives Matter-San Diego, Jewish Voice for Peace, and others, arranged to meet in the parking lot of the Reuben H. Fleet Space & Science Center in Balboa Park for a rally and caravan.

In a circular announcing the protest, these groups said: “The Palestinian movement in San Diego joins calls by Palestinians under Israeli occupation and across the diaspora for a day of rage, as we continue to build with, and alongside, Black movements and uprisings to eliminate racism and oppression in the U.S. We know that combating Zionism is also part of the global fight against racism, colonialism, and imperialism.”

StandWithUs and other pro-Israel Jewish groups say that Zionism has nothing to do with racism, colonialism, or imperialism, but is the movement of Israel’s indigenous people — the Jews, whose history in the country is well documented by the Bible — to exercise the right to self-determination in their homeland.

To counter the Palestinian protests in San Diego and other cities, StandWithUs in cooperation with the Iranian American Jewish Federation outfitted trucks to carry on their sides video messages showing the impacts of terrorist attacks on Israel.  Additionally, the trucks displayed such messages as “Israelis Want Peace;” “Palestinian Leaders: Stop the Hate, Negotiate Peace;” “Palestinian Leaders: Stop Teaching Hate & Rewarding Violence;” “Palestinian Leaders Said No to Peace in 1937, 1947, 2000, 2007 and 2020?” and “Israel Needs a Partner for Peace.”

The organizers of the Palestinian rallies and caravans “are dedicated to ending Israel’s existence and promoting antisemitic propaganda,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs. “While there is nothing wrong with having an open and vigorous debate about Israeli policies, that is not what these events are really about. We are answering hate with a message highlighting the urgent need for Palestinian leaders to choose peace negotiations over hatred and violence.”

The two groups did not interact.  The pro-Palestinian caravan, with approximately 50 cars and a police escort,  followed a route that took it past various Jewish sites including the Hillels at UCSD and San Diego State University, the Jewish Federation Building  in Kearny Mesa(where StandWithUs also has offices); the offices of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in University Town Center, and the Edward Schwartz Federal Office Building downtown.   Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many of the workers at the Jewish organizations were working from home, meaning the pro-Palestinian caravan probably was seen by relatively few staff members, according Yossef Condiotti, regional director of StandWithUs.

The StandWithUs truck, with billboards on both sides and its back, followed a route from Balboa Park to La Jolla via downtown, Pacifi Highway, Mission Bay Drive, and Torrey Pines.  Condiotti said he “thought our message went over very well.  Our truck was driving around, giving off good vibes and messages.”

Besides in San Diego, pro-Palestinians held rallies on Wednesday in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Portland, and Salt Lake City in the U.S., and Madrid in Spain.  Others were scheduled July 2 for Miami and July 4 for Toronto and Mississauga, Ontario.


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