PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of people chanting “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea!” gathered in Northeast Portland Saturday afternoon in what organizers labeled as an “emergency rally.”
This rally began at 911 NE 11th for supporters of the Palestinians in Gaza. A few speakers addressed the crowd, many of whom held signs urging US funding for Israel be discontinued.
“We have a legacy in our homeland that goes back over 8000 years. We are the descendants of Jews, Christians and Muslims that have lived, farmed and fished on that land since the beginning of human history,” one speaker told the crowd. “And we will not be silenced or ignored.”
“We take solace seeing one another. We are reminded that there is hope,” said Yousef Bayomy of Vancouver. “We also take solace knowing we are not alone.”
“We are not here to destroy, we are here to build. We would like to go back home and build our homes,” said Husameddin Elbakri of Wilsonville.
Around 4:15 p.m. the ralliers began to march down NE Lloyd Boulevard. The event was over before 6 p.m.
Meaning of the chant
The Anti-Defamation League states the phrase, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” has “long been used by the anti-Israel terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the PFLP, which seek Israel’s destruction through violent means.”
Pro-Israel rally canceled over ‘threats’
The group Oregon Stands With Israel said they planned a rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square for Sunday afternoon but canceled it “due to threats/safety concerns,” they told KOIN 6 News.
A letter from Pioneer Courthouse Square officials seen by KOIN 6 News said the organizers canceled “the event due to safety concerns. There were a few key partner organizations who have decided to pull out of the event as a result.”
The nature of the threats was not revealed.
On Thursday, a different rally organized by PSU’s Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights called for the end to the occupation of Gaza.
An estimated 800 people attended that event, chanting, “Occupation has got to go.” The event also included several speakers — including one woman who grew up in Gaza, where the church she went to was reportedly bombed.
On October 13, a pro-Palestinian rally took place around Portland City Hall and lasted for about an hour.
KOIN 6 News will have more information later in the day on this latest protest.
President Biden’s Oval Office address
On Thursday, President Joe Biden used a rare Oval Office address that the US must deepen its support of Ukraine and Israel in the middle of two vastly different, unpredictable and bloody wars.
With Israel continuing to bombard the Gaza Strip and preparing a ground invasion, Biden placed an increased emphasis on the deadly toll that the conflict has had on civilians there, saying he’s “heartbroken by the tragic loss of Palestinian life.”
“Israel and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity and peace,” Biden said. He also warned about a rising tide of antisemitism and Islamophobia in the U.S., noting the killing of Wadea Alfayoumi, a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy.
“To all you hurting, I want you to know I see you. You belong,” Biden said. “And I want to say this to you. You’re all Americans.”