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March 17, 2022

Marin teens peacefully protest for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas conflict

Elliot Smith
“Thank you for standing up against genocide, for all those who don’t have a voice.”

On Friday, Nov. 17, approximately 30 high school students from across Marin walked out of their schools in support of Palestinian civilians and a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict. The group of teens joined together to march from Northgate Mall to the Civic Center, calling for an end to the conflict. Prior to the protest, Israel supporters arrived at Northgate to counter the Pro-Peace protest.

Social media, flyers, and word of mouth itemized the walkout. Both Archie Williams and Terra Linda High School administrators sent out messages regarding the protest, stating it was not school-sanctioned, but supporting their students’ rights of free speech. 

“Our top priority is to ensure safe spaces for all students on campus. We will not tolerate racism, hate speech, or bigotry, including antisemitism and Islamophobia,” said Archie Williams Principal LaSandra White. 

A drone trailed by an Israeli flag flies over the heads of about 30 students calling for ceasefire in Gaza. (Elliot Smith)

Students from Archie Williams, San Rafael, and Terra Linda high schools participated in the walkout. Most chose to cover their faces with masks and hats, in order to prevent being identified during the videos and photos taken by counter-protestors. 

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Before the marching portion of the protest began, pro-Palestine and pro-Israel supporters engaged one another emphatically. Multiple Israel supporters filmed the students without consent, hoping to capture their identities. San Rafael student Leyla Winton attended the walkout after hearing about it from a friend.

“I’m a raging pacifist. I think that we need a ceasefire… And we need to support the people who are being killed [in the Israel-Hamas conflict],” Leyla said. 

Leyla has been raising awareness on the conflict through social media and conversation. 

Misinformation dominates social media platforms. According to MIT, lies are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than truths. Being cautious of that, Leyla makes sure to stay factual and do her research. 

“I’ve been educating myself a lot, and I’ve been doing my best to educate other people through conversations, debates and posts on Instagram… just spreading the word in any way I can and making sure to spread love, no hate, just the facts,” Leyla said. 

Protester prepares to march with pro-Palestine group, holding a sign demanding humanitarian aid to Gaza, where the death toll has exceeded 15,000. (Elliot Smith)

Another student, who chooses to remain anonymous, heard about this protest through other pro-Palestinian organizations.

“I support liberation [of Palestine], I’m against genocide… and [by going to this protest] it shows solidarity and it shows that Zionists aren’t the only ones who have a voice,” they said. 

Zionism was the movement to create a Jewish state in Palestine, known currently as Israel, and is now the movement to protect the country of Israel.

On the other side of the parking lot, around 15 Israel supporters, made up of adults draped in Israeli flags, flew a drone holding the flag of Israel above the Palestinian supporters. Jennifer Golbus, mother of a Terra Linda High School student, joined to address any anti semitic language that could’ve occurred during this protest. She found the term “end the genocide” offensive due to its history of use surrounding the Holocaust.

“[I don’t think there’s any] intent by the Israelis to commit genocide. They’re trying to defend themselves against a terrorist organization,” Golbus said. 

Golbus also believes that the stance of pro-peace isn’t the same as pro-ceasefire.

“Of course everyone wants peace, but asking Israel to lay down its weapons so that Hamas can commit another Oct. 7…is not a solution for peace… We have to stop polarizing and pretending like there are two sides here… I stand with the Palestinian people, I stand with all innocent people, I don’t stand with terrorists,” Golbus said.

A woman draped in the flag of Israel holds a poster of a missing two-year old girl that was kidnapped during the Israel-Hamas conflict. (Elliot Smith)

At around noon, the students began marching towards the Civic Center and back. Leaders of the protest used a megaphone to direct chants such as, “We demand a ceasefire now,” as participants held signs with sayings including “Humanitarian aid to Gaza now.” 

The pro-Palestine protestors marched away from the pro-Israel group, and the protest ended around two. 

Currently, the government of Israel has agreed to a momentary pause in bombing and trade of Palestinian prisoners for captives in Gaza. The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 15,000 since Oct. 7 according to Aljazeera.

This story was originally published on The Pitch on November 30, 2023.