As you approached Turlington Plaza on Thursday, you could hear the chants of clashing views.
“We’re here to show that America supports Israel. Excessive and unprovoked rocket attacks should not be tolerated,” Melanie Miller said.
“We have a special responsibility to the Palestinian people because our government is providing funding, military support and political support for Israel. We have the responsibility here to oppose what our government is doing,” Conor Munro said.
Both Miller and Munro are organizers for the rallies that were held in Turlington Plaza on Thursday and Friday. The gatherings took place in light of the recent upheaval of violence in the long-term conflict between Israel and Palestine.
Being the most recent divergence, Jewish Israelis and Muslims of Palestine started fighting again on Wednesday after Israel launched a series of airstrikes that killed Ahmed al-Jabari, the chief of military operations of Hamas, the Islamic political party that controls the Gaza Strip.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that these raids were in retaliation to continuous Palestinian rocket fire.
With current and escalating violence in the Middle East, student organizations of the University of Florida arranged rallies on behalf of the main sides of the conflict. A collaboration effort among the Jewish associations held a pro-Israel rally on Thursday and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had its pro-Palestine rally on Friday.
The conflict that has plagued Israel and all of its surrounding countries is a confusing and chaotic clash in which history and religion play a major role. There is obviously a significant divide in opinions internationally and even on the UF campus.
“We’re here to show the world that there are people at the University of Florida who care about what’s going on,” Miller, treasurer of the Torah Advancement Project, said. “We won’t take this sitting down.”
“We understand that what we’re doing here isn’t going to end the war in Gaza,” Munro, lead organizer for SDS, said. “When you look at movements in the past, movements against the Vietnam War or movements against apartheid in South Africa, those did have an impact and we need to start building a stronger movement.”
No matter who is involved, Palestinian or Israeli, the issue has hit close to home for many UF students.
“Yesterday, I was in Library West and I just couldn’t take my mind off of it. There are UF students in Israel right now, whether they’re moving there or studying abroad or visiting,” Emily Sasser, a UF graduate student, said.
While there are many more components to the structure of this issue, the question of if this conflict will end lingers in the thoughts of UF students and the international world alike.