Pro-Palestinian protesters march down Michigan Avenue as Northbrook demonstrators support Israel

Monday, November 13, 2023
Pro-Palestinian, pro-Israel protesters gather in Chicago area
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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators showed up for a Michigan Avenue protest as pro-Israel supporters gathered in Village Green Park in Northbrook, IL.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through downtown Chicago on Sunday while others gathered to support Israel in the northern suburbs.

The Chicago rally kicked off around noon and pretty much broke up right before 4 p.m., although there were still a handful of protesters in the area around 5 p.m. Meanwhile, in the northern suburbs, it was the pro-Israeli groups that came out in force.

"We want it to be peaceful, to bring light to what's going on, to remember we are talking about human lives and people," said Allison Pure-Slovin with the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

SEE ALSO | Israel-Hamas war: Heavy fighting rages near Gaza hospital, Netanyahu dismisses calls for cease-fire

A large police presence surrounded Northbrook's Village Green Park on Sunday afternoon in preparation for what was expected to be a standoff between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups. It was a standoff that never happened as hundreds of pro-Israel demonstrators came out to counter a pro-Palestinian rally that was permitted a week ago, but did not materialize.

"I'm really proud of all the people who came out to support Israel and to support the Jews, to make us realize that we're not alone. You look on social media, and it's horrific," said pro-Israel supporter Pelleg Graupe.

It's not clear why the pro-Palestinian groups promised to be in Northbrook, but in Chicago, thousands marched from Water Tower down Michigan Avenue to Wacker Drive, and then back as they called on the state's congressional delegation to demand a ceasefire in Gaza.

"We're funding this. We've been funding this for 75 years now, and it's about time we give it up. We have no rights left in our country. We can't criticize Israel. We can't boycott Israel," said Samer, a pro-Palestinian demonstrator. "I've been protesting this since I was 6 years old, and now, my daughter is out here protesting. It's gone on for way too long already."

Many of the protesters are worried as conditions worsen in the Gaza Strip with hospitals losing supplies and electricity while innocent civilians are stuck in the line of fire.

"You can see what's happening to the poor innocent kids and women and elders, everybody that is a part of this. It's just not right. It's not human," said Vanessa Prada.

"Although it may not seem like we're making a difference, we're slowly getting that attention, slowly, and that's what's important," said Noorige, another demonstrator.

Large-scale, pro-Palestinian rallies like this one have become a regular feature over the last five weeks, ever since the Israeli government initiated its military campaign in Gaza in response to Hamas' deadly attack on the Jewish state on Oct. 7 that left hundreds taken hostage. It is their fate that was highlighted by many today in Northbrook.

"It isn't about Palestinians versus Israelis. It's really about the destruction and terror of our country and theirs," said Betsy Graupe.

Many of the pro-Israel demonstrators said they understand the calls for a cease fire in Gaza, but they don't believe that should happen until Hamas lets go of all hostages.

READ MORE | Chicago Ridge-based MedGlobal loses communication with staff in Gaza amid reported hospital attacks

"People should have sympathy for those people and want them returned to their families, and that's what we're here to say, that until those hostages are returned, we can't support a ceasefire," said David Smith, a pro-Israel supporter.

Pro-Palestinian protesters pointed to the thousands of casualties that have mounted in Gaza as well.

"Everyone has the right to food and water and electricity and to be safe in schools and churches and hospitals, and right now, international law and human rights law is being violated every day," said pro-Palestinian supporter Tammy Ismael.