Palestinian supporters rally on Elm Street

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Palestinian supporters rallied on Elm Street on Oct. 11, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, NH – Local activists gathered in front of Brady Sullivan Plaza, also known as 1000 Elm St., on Wednesday night to voice their support of Palestine in the wake of the ongoing recent escalation between Hamas and Israel in the Middle East.

Activists chanted in support of Palestinian self-determination and in opposition to U.S. funding of the Israeli government and military.

One of the activists, Joy Douglas, stated that the recent attack on southern Israel by Hamas was done for the sake of freedom. He added that he came to the rally not only in support of Palestinians, but also in support of Manchester’s Arab population, its African community, and even Jewish Manchester residents opposed to the concept of Zionism , stating that Zionism is anti-semitic.

“(Palestinians) live in the largest open-air prison on the planet,” said Douglas of Gaza, one of the two major Palestinian territories. “They are trying their best to survive and they have a choice between dying slowly or fighting for their liberation and they’ve taken that chance.”

Douglas cited statements from Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant calling the Palestinian people “animals” ,also calling Israel an apartheid state comparable to South Africa before 1994. While he did note that innocent people had died during Hamas’ recent attack on Israel, he and others at the rally stated that assertions of Hamas decapitations were inaccurate.

Greg Salts, one of the two individuals countering the rally from across the street, took umbrage to that view, stating other firsthand sources on the scene.

“There are plenty of people coming out of Israel explaining exactly what happened. This is more than just Western media, there are eyewitness accounts of what happened, survivors of the kibbutz came out and said what happened,” he said. “Who are you going to believe? Them or those Nazis (across the street)?”

Salts described the activists on the other side of the street as “disgusting” and described their event as a “celebration,” but onlookers to both sides were not sure what to make of the scene.

One man who said his name was Joe Smith had just left McGarvey’s about a block north of the competing rallies. He felt that anyone who had not lived in that part of the world had an uninformed opinion given that the problems faced by most people in New Hampshire pale in comparison to other areas in the world, where belief in certain ideologies can lead to death.

“It’s unfortunate, I think a lot of these young people don’t understand how the world works, they’ve never been outside of their comfort zone, they’ve never experienced hunger, famine or death, which are real things in the rest of the world,” he said. “We are sheltered from the rest of the world, I think they are just bored and they have nothing better to do. They want to make a difference, but they don’t know how to do it.”

Evan Betrthol had a front-row seat to the competing rallies from the patio at Margaritas, where he said he finished the Taco Gigante Challenge in six-and-a-half minutes.

Betrthol was bemused at both sides and felt that the United States should not support either side.

“I don’t support sending money to foreign countries period. I don’t think we should have been involved in Ukraine, I don’t think we should be involved in Israel. I find it annoying that our national debt rises and we are printing more money than we ever have in the entire history of our country, yet we are willing to fund wars overseas,” he said. “I’m 23 and I’ll be lucky to own a house unless my grandma dies and leaves one to me. There’s no chance I can buy one on my own, even with a  well-paying job, yet with the money we’ve spent on Ukraine, we could have cancelled all government-held student debt.”

About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.