Shows of support for Israel, Palestine in Philadelphia as war continues

One common factor in shows of support for Israel and Palestine was the condemnation of the loss of innocent lives.

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Thursday, October 12, 2023
Shows of support for Israel, Palestine in Philadelphia as war continues
Shows of support for Israel, Palestine in Philadelphia as war continues

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In the week since Hamas militants launched attacks in Israel, there have been a number of local rallies in Philadelphia to support the Israeli people.

Now, some organizations and individuals are showing their support for Palestinians affected by the violence.

"I'm here as a concerned citizen," said Ribhi Mustafa of Northeast Philadelphia as he attended a pro-Palestine rally near Independence Mall.

Mustafa was born in the United States, but his parents are from Palestine.

"I'm glued to my TV and my phone 24/7. My mother and father are still in the West Bank as we speak," he said. "If anybody cares about peace, decency, and humanity, the issue of Palestinians needs to be addressed by the international community."

While the event he attended showed support for Palestine, just two blocks away there was a very visible show of support for Israel.

"The Weitzman is proudly displaying the Israeli flag on the front of our building," said Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History Chief Curator Josh Perelman.

The 28-foot flag took hours to install on the outside corner of the museum. It's a show of solidarity with Israel.

"This is an unprecedented moment," said Perelman. "What we have witnessed is the largest murder of Jews since the Holocaust."

The one common factor in both shows of support was the condemnation of the loss of innocent lives.

"We're very concerned about everybody whose lives have been affected by this conflict," said Perelman.

Some organizations, though, say there hasn't been enough of a focus on the loss of Palestinian life. It's why more than three dozen groups in the local Muslim community combined to send an open letter to Governor Josh Shapiro Monday morning.

One of the participating organizations is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Philadelphia Chapter.

"This letter is strongly worded," said CAIR Executive Director Ahmet Tekelioglu.

In it, the organizations call Shapiro's response to the violence "one-sided," only showing concern for Israeli lives.

"Palestinians who have lost their cousins, who have lost their relatives to air strikes as they were fleeing their homes," said Tekelioglu. "Complete disregard for that is, we feel, Governor (Shapiro) failing to represent all Pennsylvanians."

Those organizations want to meet with Shapiro, acknowledging the governor has had a good relationship with the Muslim community up until now.

Tekelioglu also says the group does not condone the killing of innocent people by Hamas.

In the meantime, events continued to show support for the people of Israel. The Israeli-American Council held a rally Thursday evening at the Holocaust Memorial Plaza along the Ben Franklin Parkway.