Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine Protests Planned in Copley Square

Hundreds are expected to partake in marches supporting each side of the ongoing conflict.

Things could come to a head as two planned protests about the situation unfolding in Gaza are scheduled to take place in Copley Square on Tuesday evening.

Hundreds of people are expected to march through the streets in solidarity with the people of Gaza, as part of the “Boston Stands with Palestine” event. Supporters will convene on Boylston Street before they parade through the city toward the State House, calling attention to the ongoing conflict and bombings overseas and demanding an end to U.S. aid in Israel.

“People will be performing street theater and acting out some of the tragic events that have happened in Gaza,” said Liza Behrendt, an organizer with the Boston chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. “We are expecting close to 1,000 people at the rally.”

Behrendt said members of Jewish Voice for Peace Boston have been closely following the conflict since early July, mourning the deaths of Palestinians and Israelis, and organizing events to try and stop what they call U.S support of Israeli airstrikes.

“As a Jewish American, I identify myself as a supporter of Israeli people and Palestinian people, and I care about the future of Israel as a society and state,” said Behrendt, whose group is putting together the march. “But the only hope for a safe and stable Israel is an end to the immediate violence happening in Gaza right now.”

As has been the case on more than one occasion in recent weeks, counter protests to the “Boston Stands with Palestine” rally are expected at Tuesday’s event.

On a Facebook page called “Boston Stands Against Hamas,” hundreds have signed up to take the spotlight off of Israel’s involvement with the conflict, and place it on Hamas. “We invite anyone who values human life, whether pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, to stand with us against terror,” the group said in a statement.

Twice already rallies in Boston have gotten out of hand when the differing groups have come together in public spaces, and even led to the extraction of pro-Israel protesters and Boston Police intervention.

Tuesday’s march follows a series of local solidarity meetups including daytime rallies that happened on July 9, July 11, July 17, and July 19.

While things have led to shouting matches, verbal confrontations, and alleged vitriol from both camps, Behrendt said it’s not the group’s goal to clash with pro-Israel supporters. “It’s always our intention to avoid confrontations,” she said. “It’s important for us to focus on the real reason we are out protesting, which is support for all people in the region and a sustainable peace.”

She said they have people designated to de-escalate any interactions, and they are hoping to strongly communicate to everyone in their group that the point of the rally isn’t to engage in arguments, but to voice their concerns.