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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

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Hundreds of U Students Rally in Support of Palestine

Over 200 people showed up to the rally, organized by Mecha, and criticized the U for what they view as taking a centrist stance.
Marco Lozzi
Pro-Palestine demonstrators march across the George S. Eccles Legacy Bridge in Salt Lake City during the All Out For Palestine rally on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Over 200 people rallied on the University of Utah campus Friday evening in support of Palestine in the latest war between Israel and Hamas, an armed Palestinian militant group.

“What has happened has been a result of 75 years of imprisonment, physical and emotional torture, humiliation, displacement, ethnic cleansing and genocide,” said Yafi, a U graduate student. “This was not unprovoked.” 

Hamas’ recent attack on Israel and Israel’s offensive in Gaza in response is an escalation in a long conflict that has already left thousands dead on both sides.

Mecha de U of U, a self-described anti-imperialist, anti-colonial socialist student organization, held the event to stand with Palestine and urge the U to take less of what they view as a centrist stand on the conflict. After the rally, the crowd marched from the John R. Park Building to Legacy Bridge where they continued chants like, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “Viva Palestina.” 

Students carried various signs, some of which read, “End the occupation,” “Stop killing our children” and “End Israeli apartheid.”

“We do not support the process of killing and racially cleansing Palestinians,” Yafi said. “We do not support the apartheid criminal regime in Israel and we sure as hell do not support the war industry.”

On Oct. 11, the U released a statement about the latest war between Israel and Hamas.

“Many of our students, faculty and staff have family and friends in harm’s way,” the statement read. “As this crisis unfolds, let’s support one another, respect differences of opinion, and uniformly denounce violence and acts of hate.”

Pro-Palestine demonstrators organize in front of the John R. Park Building in Salt Lake City during the All Out For Palestine rally on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle) (Marco Lozzi)

Mecha has been critical of the U’s stance on the conflict, arguing, “there are no ‘both sides’ to genocide.”

At the rally, Julio Irungaray, an organizer for Mecha and the Party for Socialism and Liberation, said the fact that the U took a centrist stance on genocide is an “absolute disgrace.” 

“If you stand on the center, and choose not to take a side in the face of genocide, then you stand on the side of genocide,” he said. 

Irungaray voiced his frustration with U President Taylor Randall for attending a vigil held by Hillel Utah and Chabad on Campus earlier this week where attendees mourned lives lost in Israel this month. 

“President Randall, you are a disgrace and you stand on the wrong side of history,” Irungaray said. “You stand with fascism, and the students of this university will forever remember that this is not a war between Hamas and Israel. It is a war between Palestine and Israel.

Williams, who wanted to only use his first name for security reasons, is Mecha’s chair of the Student Union Committee.

“We truthfully think supporting Israel, or taking an apolitical stance, not caring or taking a centrist stance, makes no sense and to us — you’re supporting Israel, you’re supporting genocide, you’re supporting ethnic cleansing, you’re supporting the murder of civilians, of Palestinians,” Williams said.

“How can you take a center stand when there’s a whole ethnicity being cleansed out of this world right now?” he said. “… In the most simplest terms, what we’re seeing is a story of the oppressed against the oppressor, is how [Mecha] likes to view it. From the exploited to the exploiter and from the colonized to the colonizer.”

Aziz Abuzayed, a Palestinian who lived in Gaza until two years ago, spoke at the event. For him personally, this conflict is not about religion, as someone who has left his Muslim faith.

“I am still supporting Palestine – not because we have an ancestral right to this land only but because it’s the right thing to do because it’s a human right cause,” he said.

He added although he supports Palestine, he does not support Hamas.

“I am a Palestinian from Gaza and I do not like Hamas,” he said. “They don’t represent me.”

Some students who attended the rally have personal connections to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

Jack Bellows, a U student who’s the chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, has a grandfather who was born in the Palestinian city Ramallah and his neighborhood was bombed in 1948. This was part of what Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba,” Arabic for “catastrophe – when militia attacks that preceded the Arab-Israeli war led to the killing of approximately 15,000 Palestinians. 

The Latest From the Israel-Hamas War

On Oct. 7, “Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby Israeli towns,” according to AP News. The attack resulted in the killing of hundreds of civilians. 

AP News reported the attack “stunned Israel and caught its vaunted military and intelligence apparatus completely off guard.”

In response, Israel immediately launched airstrikes on Gaza, resulting in the destruction of entire neighborhoods, as well as the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the days that followed.

The war is the deadliest of the five total Gaza wars – which have happened in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2021 and 2023 – for both sides.

On Friday, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said 4,137 Palestinians have been killed and more than 13,000 others have been wounded.

The death count for people in Israel is estimated to be more than 1,400 as of Friday. These mostly came from the initial attack from Hamas militants on Oct. 7.

AP News also reported that the Israeli military has said “203 people were believed captured by Hamas during the incursion and taken into Gaza.”

Additionally, two American hostages were released by Hamas today. 

Pro-Palestine demonstrators march across the George S. Eccles Legacy Bridge in Salt Lake City during the All Out For Palestine rally on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle) (Marco Lozzi)

Utah’s Stance

Utah state leaders have overwhelmingly shown their support for Israel. On Oct. 15, the Utah State Capitol was lit up in blue and white to show solidarity with Israel. 

“I know that thousands and thousands of [Utahns] don’t stand with that so we got to show that we don’t stand with that – that’s why I’m here,” Bellow said at the rally.

In a press conference on Thursday, Gov. Spencer Cox said his heart was broken for Palestinians as well, but that he had “zero empathy” for Hamas. 

He added that any efforts to harm or threaten Jewish citizens or Israelis in Utah would be met with, “swift justice to the fullest extent of the law.” 

“I would say the exact same thing towards our Palestinians,” he said. “Our Palestinians, they are our neighbors. They are Utahns and we love them and we’re grateful they’re here. And we extend those same protections to you as well.”


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About the Contributors
Andrew Christiansen, Online Managing Editor
Andrew Christiansen was the Assistant Editor of the news desk at the Chrony for a year before becoming Online Managing Editor in May 2023. He graduated from Salt Lake Community College with his associate degree in journalism and digital media in 2021. Andrew has also been a SLUG Magazine contributor since the summer of 2021 and has interned for KUER and The Salt Lake Tribune. When not writing or editing, Andrew can be found at concerts around Salt Lake (his favorite venues are Kilby Court and the Urban Lounge), watching movies at Salt Lake Film Society, or out on walks and hikes listening to music and podcasts.
Vanessa Hudson, Assistant News Editor
Vanessa is from Grand Junction, Colorado. She's a junior majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism and minoring in modern dance and political science. She is passionate about what she reports on, and she usually winds up writing about local politics and issues. When Vanessa isn't writing, you can find her trying out some new choreography, listening to public radio or watching Marvel and Star Wars movies.
Marco Lozzi, Photographer
Born in Texas and raised by Italian parents, Marco Lozzi grew up with two vastly different cultures. Now a sophomore at the U, he is majoring in communication with a journalism emphasis while also minoring in photography and Italian. He joined the Chrony to gain experience working as a photojournalist for a larger entity. When he's not taking or editing photos, he can be found hitting the slopes, napping, or making pasta.
Luke Larsen, Photographer
(he/him) Luke started at the Chronicle in the fall of 2023. He is currently studying anthropology. He has worked as a professional portrait photographer since 2021 in Waco, Texas, where he has lived for the past ten years. He is originally from Los Angeles, California and loves Dim Sum.

Comments (5)

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  • S

    shaneNov 9, 2023 at 12:20 am

    To bad the Daily Chronicle keeps giving this antisemite Julio Irungaray a platform, would be great if they gave any of the students with family from Isreal the same air time…

  • S

    SaraOct 23, 2023 at 8:53 pm

    When you reference the nakba, “when militia attacks that preceded the Arab-Israeli war led to the killing of approximately 15,000 Palestinians,” be very clear that the militia attacks are the attacks from multiple Arab nations that combined to destroy Israel literally one day after its creation by the UN. The UN partition plan in 1947 offered an almost even split of land with the Arabs (Palestinians) receiving the more favorable land. Israel accept the solution and every Arab nation refused it, saying that if Israel was created, they would wipe it off the map. The Arab nations absolutely did go to war with Israel right away, to the loss of many lives, including Arabs, and Israel ultimately won the war. They’ve been trying to keep their promise ever since. The goal of Hamas is to destroy Israel, not gain freedom for people they care nothing about.

    If this were about independence, Palestine could have been a nation in 1948.

    • J

      JeffOct 31, 2023 at 9:33 am

      You are one uneducated individual. You are a clear danger to freedom of speech. It is quite evident that you did your research from tick tock and social media. You’re lack of knowledge is extraordinary. The Bible clearly acknowledges Israel and Jerusalem as a state. You will not read the word Palestine in any verses. In fact the word Palestine is derived from a Latin word meaning new as in a new state!

  • R

    RyanOct 23, 2023 at 4:29 pm

    All employers in Utah should be aware of the anti-American views these students have, and should be prevented from gaining employment. Good thing they are all pictured here and can be identified. Disgraceful. Shows just how uninformed and pathetic this generation is, and how the University of Utah has failed in educating them properly.

    • F

      frankieboyOct 23, 2023 at 6:51 pm

      the good news is that the writers of the article, while trying to write objectively, can scarcely conceal their disdain. Hope for our youth?