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Pro-Palestine protesters set up camp in downtown Boise, demand divestment and ceasefire

Murphy Woodhouse
Boise State Public Radio

On Friday, about 250 students and community members gathered in downtown Boise to protest the war in Palestine. Protesters silently left flowers at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial before speakers took turns asking Boise State University to divest funds from the Israeli government.

Speaking in front of the crowd with drones flying above, Rachael Pichette from IfNotNow Idaho, a group of American Jews against Israel’s occupation of Palestine, asked for a ceasefire.

“As Idaho Jews, we know what anti-Semitism is and calling for an end to genocide, calling for an end to Israeli occupation. Calling for freedom in Gaza has never been and never will be anti-Semitic,” she said. “Our history does not absolve us of guilt or responsibility. In fact, it is the exact opposite. It is because we know what genocide looks like that we can unequivocally say that what is happening in Gaza is genocide and must stop.”

A dozen counter protesters attended the event at the memorial, holding flags and singing the Israeli anthem.

“They get all of the information from sources that are unreliable, and they try to change the world. They have their heart in the right place, but they don't have the facts,” said Israeli born Eagle resident Aaron Yaniv, adding the war in Gaza was not a war of choice.

“We are forced to be in that war. And we have to protect ourselves. And we have to protect the future of the state of Israel, which is the only state that is a safe place for Jews.”

Pro-Palestinian protesters then peacefully marched from the memorial to the statehouse and set up tents in front of the Capitol Annex, chanting slogans, like and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and "Wakey Wakey Bronco Nation, time to end the occupation."

“For my entire life, I have been fighting for Palestine, and I feel like I was always yelling into the abyss. And now, for the first time ever, I feel like the world is starting to listen," said Palestinian American student Mohamed Abu Akar as protesters held hands and sang hymns in the lawn in front of the building.

“My grandparents who have passed away, who are older than the state of Israel, would have been so proud to see people coming together all across the world, to stand up for Palestine and to make sure that the world knows that Palestine exists and it's not going anywhere,” he added.

Several dozen police officers with riot gear arrived shortly afterwards, and asked protesters to clear the area under threat of arrest for several hours into the night. No confrontations or arrests occurred.

About 30 protesters stayed in a makeshift camp overnight and over the weekend. The camp was still up and occupied on Monday afternoon.

I joined Boise State Public Radio in 2022 as the Canyon County reporter through Report for America, to report on the growing Latino community in Idaho. I am very invested in listening to people’s different perspectives and I am very grateful to those who are willing to share their stories with me. It’s a privilege and I do not take it for granted.

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