Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine Rallies in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, NC - As the violence escalates in the Middle East, tensions are rising here at home too. Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine groups are speaking out, many holding rallies throughout the city.
A sea of Pro-Israel supporters gathered Sunday at a Stand With Israel rally in Romare-Bearden Park. Security was tight as the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast spoke to the crowd.
He says the key to peace lies with Hamas, the militant group ruling Gaza. "No more Hamas in Gaza, (it) should be (the) Palestinian Authority controlling Gaza, with the help of the Egyptian government," says Opher Aviran.
He and others say Israel is targeting Hamas, not civilians. "I think we need to show moral courage and conviction by saying clearly to the world, we stand with Israel and that Hamas should retreat," says Rep. Robert Pittenger, (R) North Carolina.
Pro-Palestinian groups though say too many innocent people are being caught in the crossfire. "When you say 'Israel has a right to defend herself,' every human being has a right to herself, every human being to exist, and that includes the Palestinians," says Jibril Hough, with the Islamic Community Center.
A small group gathered to counter-protest the Israel rally. And other Pro-Palestinian groups gathered for a vigil in Freedom Park. "We see such a vast difference in the numbers and everything, that's where we need to come up and speak our voice, because this is a people that is oppressed," says Ahmad Altaher, with the Palestinian American Community Center.
"There's been factions before Hamas and there will be ones after Hamas, this is not going to stop until the open prison that Israel has on Palestine, until the blockade is removed," says Plaza Midwood resident Amir Behdani.
Some say they hope middle ground can be found, for a peaceful end. "We can't let hardliners and enemies of peace be left alone, we have to demand an end to this tragic conflict," says Joel Segal, with the Middle East Peace Working Group.