At UCLA: Israel, Palestine Protesters Face Off as New, Giant Screen Displays ‘Incomprehensible Atrocities’ of Oct. 7

“A bunch of Zionist counter-protesters — most of which are not students — …brought this screen and set it up,” a UCLA Ph.D student tells TheWrap

UCLA Campus, Royce Hall
UCLA Campus, Royce Hall

As the bell rang at 3:58 p.m. PST on Monday, most students outside UCLA’s Kaplan Hall seemed too preoccupied with their schedules to stop and pay much attention to the large encampment and opposing screen now occupying Dickson Court.

Still, within earshot, tensions were high as pro-Palestine student supporters and pro-Israel counter-protesters faced off in front of Royce Hall. On Sunday, a giant screen was erected to show images “displaying the incomprehensible atrocities of Oct. 7,” as a bearded man in his 30s who gave his name but asked for it not to be used over safety concerns noted.

The pro-Palestine protestors who have been here since last Thursday did not take it well.

“A bunch of Zionist counter-protesters — most of which are not students — had a big fundraiser and brought this screen and set it up. They’re trying to basically blast us with noise and disrupt us,” a young person who gave their name as Kai and said they were a Ph.D student told TheWrap. “They set up a whole scene and there were a bunch of agitators trying to come and harass students here and stir things up.”

The commotion on the Los Angeles campus — which was being supervised by dozens of security guards, none of whom seemed to be paying particular attention — is part of a nationwide movement of college students urging their schools to use their power to “demand a permanent and immediate cease-fire in Gaza.”

“There’s hundreds of us here and tens of thousands of students across the country who are here to call on our universities to divest from companies that profit from the genocide in Gaza,” Kai explained. “We’re also calling on our universities to be transparent in terms of what they’re doing with investments.”

Across the yard, supporters of Israel questioned why the permit-less pro-Palestine encampment was allowed to disrupt the end of the spring semester without consequence, considering that their volume was asked to be turned down by administration.

“Israel is an ally to America. How dare you live in America and stand with a known terrorist organization?” said the pro-Israel protestor near the video screen. “UCLA has prioritized a political agenda over the safety of their students. I’m concerned for my safety and everyone here on campus, both sides. We’re trying to educate people on what actually happened.”

Earlier on Monday, a woman appearing to support Palestine brandished a taser against a pro-Israel supporter after ripping a sign out of his hands, as seen in video posted to social media.

“The UCPD is not doing much of anything, they’re just standing around letting the pro-Hamas people do whatever,” a female eyewitness wearing a shirt in support of freeing the hostages recalled. “A woman shot the taser, they let her go. We heard the crackle of the electricity.”

In response to that brief moment of aggression, the pro-Palestine supporters directed attention to the more common cruelty occurring in Gaza.

“This kind of harassment, this kind of violence, it’s dangerous to the students, but it pales in comparison … They were calling us slurs, they were spitting on us,” Kai recounted. “This dehumanizing treatment is really just a slice of what the Palestinians are facing every single day and have been for the past 75 years.”

UCLA Campus, Royce Hall
UCLA Campus, Royce Hall
UCLA Campus, Royce Hall
UCLA Campus, Royce Hall

However, those on the Pro-Israel side of the green have a slightly different recollection of their recent disputes.

“We are not screaming death chants, we don’t want to hurt anyone … We wish for the immediate release of the hostages,” the man by the video screen barricade reiterated. “How many felonies against a Jew does it take for them to react? LAPD, UCLA, on-duty [officers], lawmakers, politicians.”

As of Monday evening, the students are not afraid of the threat of arrest nor suspension — as is similarly evident at schools like USC, Columbia and Emerson College.

“It’s this big atrocity that we can’t sit back and watch as it unfolds so dramatically, that’s why we’re calling on our universities to stop actively being a part of it,” Ph.D student Kai concluded. “We’re willing to stay as long as it takes. We’re planning on being here trying to make sure that there’s no business as usual; make it impossible to ignore.”


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