Local reaction to the unrest in the Middle East

November 17, 2012 6:30:16 AM PST
Action News sampled local reaction from people who are particularly invested in the developments in the Middle East.

By night protesters outside of Philadelphia's Israeli Consulate continued their response to the unrest that peaked in the past 24 hours.

By day, supporters of both sides traded heated words.

On Temple University's campus, students for Justice in Palestine held their 4th annual Palestinian Nights event.

Originally students planned to celebrate culture, food and music. Instead speakers took the stage, the situation in Gaza giving the event a serious tone.

Wafai Dias says it isn't about taking sides anymore.

"It shouldn't matter if you are pro-Palestinian and it shouldn't matter if you are pro-Israel, the problem is that there are human rights being violated," she said.

Ira Schwartz heads the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. The group joined its national organization by donating $5 million in aid for Israeli victims Friday.

"When you start to have rockets exploding 4 to 5 miles from major cities like Tel Aviv or Jerusalem it is like a rocket falling five miles from Philadelphia," he said.

Schwartz was in Israel three weeks ago and says he could feel the tension mounting.

He thinks the 100,000 plus tourists there now are safe.

Palestinian Ali Ibrahaim fled his country in the eighties, now he works with Palestinian students at Temple University.

"I thought there was no killing or bloodshed. I was shocked when I heard the news, they demolished Gaza big time," he said.

Ibrahaim shares his frustration with fellow Palestinians who feel their country is no match for Israel.

"I hope we can find a solution to stop the killing, and we can be in peace," said Ibrahaim.

"It is a free democratic country hopefully others follow suit. Israel wants to live in peace. It's a small country," said Schwartz.

The Jewish Federation has a group of Philadelphians slated to head to Israel in December. They are not ruling out the trip at this point.

Both sides agree peace is the goal.


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