Pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters shout at each other.
Pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters shouted at each other at the "All Out for Palestine" rally in San Francisco. Oct. 8, 2023. (Photo/Gabe Stutman)

Egg-throwing, calls for ‘intifada’ at combative protest in S.F.

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Furious pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters shouted at each other and came close to blows in San Francisco on Sunday at an “All Out for Palestine” rally co-sponsored by groups including San Francisco’s Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and Jewish Voice for Peace.

Publicized and co-organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, rallies were held in cities across North America including in New York City, Dallas and Montreal. They took place as bloodshed stained Israel and the Palestinian territories, one day after Hamas infiltrated southern Israel, killing hundreds of civilians in a complex terrorist attack unprecedented in the country’s history. Meanwhile Israel pummeled Hamas sites in Gaza with retaliatory airstrikes and mobilized for war, calling up 300,000 reservists and sending troops and tanks rolling toward the south. 

Gathering in front of the Israeli Consulate in the Financial District, a mass of hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators, many clad in kaffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags, made a cacophony of noise using air horns, megaphones, chants and a PA system. Activists delivered chilling speeches praising attackers involved in the attacks as “martyrs” and “resisters.”

“The resistance is liberating the land!” a speaker yelled through a megaphone on stage, as Israeli counterdemonstrators chanted “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

“The intifada lives! Palestine lives!” she said.

“Today is a historical day!” another speaker shouted. Referencing the Latin American Communist leader Che Guevara (who was captured on Oct. 8 and died on Oct. 9, 1967), the speaker added: “Oct. 8 is the day of the martyr!”

Scores of Israeli protesters stood on the opposite side of Montgomery Street, waving Israeli flags, chanting, yelling and singing “Hatikvah” and other songs behind metal traffic control barriers and separated by police in riot gear. Some, enraged, threw eggs and shouted insults at the pro-Palestinian crowd. Water bottles and other small objects flew back and forth. On multiple occasions police restrained demonstrators from crossing the cordon in a fit of rage.

The Hamas attack saw terrorists break through Israeli border crossings, storm a music festival in the desert in southern Israel, and kill more than 250 concertgoers in the early morning hours. Others were taken hostage. Hamas also sent rockets soaring into Israel and attacked Jewish communities in the south, killing residents and taking others into Gaza. In total, more than 900 Israelis were reported killed as of Monday, thousands were injured, and about 100 were believed held captive in Gaza, according to media reports. More than 500 Palestinians had been killed in retaliatory strikes targeting Hamas, according to reports.

Demonstrators flung insults and violent words across the cordon.

In one exchange, a pro-Palestinian demonstrator told a group of Israeli men, “It’s a beautiful day.” It was time for “celebrating,” he said.

A pro-Israel protester, speaking through a megaphone, shouted: “There is no such thing as Palestine and there never, ever will be!”

“Intifada! Intifada!” the crowd shouted in a rhythmic call-and-response. 

An Israeli-born man named Jonathan, who works in the software industry, attended the protest and had pinned small Israeli flags to the harnesses of his two dogs. Declining to give his last name, he said he came to the protest to show “solidarity” with fellow Israelis.

“A lot of people hate Israel,” he said, adding that certain pro-Palestinian demonstrators were “inciting violence.”

“They are naive and don’t really understand the situation,” he said of the demonstrators.

A pro-Palestinian protester named Emily, a Jewish woman from Oakland who also declined to give her last name, said she came to “show solidarity with the movement” but was not in a celebratory mood. 

“I’m not a big fan of Hamas, in all honesty,” she said. “There isn’t a whole lot that you can celebrate in bloodshed. If you are, you should check yourself a little bit.”

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.