In response to the Israel-Hamas conflict, many in the Tallahassee community and students of Florida State University advocated for an end to U.S. aid to Israel and support for anti-Israel groups.
The week before the pro-Palestine protest on the Florida State University campus, the House of Representatives voted to approve a package that would give Israel $14.3 billion dollars in aid. The bill has been criticized by Democrats, including President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
On October 10, Florida State University’s President Richard McCullough announced school-wide via email, “Florida State University stands staunchly in support of the Israeli people and all those affected by these terrible atrocities. I would like our Jewish faculty, staff, and students to know I stand with you and that your Florida State University family is here to support you.”
Following McCullough’s statement in the aftermath of the October 7 terror attacks that left over 1,400 dead, disagreements amongst Florida State’s students and those in the Tallahassee community emerged regarding the university’s support for Israel.
On October 30, a protest took place on Florida State’s campus in opposition to the university’s stance on Israel during the Israel-Hamas conflict. The event was coordinated by Students for a Democratic Society, with the endorsement from groups such as Florida Palestine Network, the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
The event occurred at 5:00 p.m. near Westcott Fountain where one protest leader delivered a short speech. Subsequently, the crowd entered the campus near the Integration Statue.
“This shows that we’re winning,” announced Elijah Ruby, a senior majoring in English.
“It shows that we’re a threat to the Zionist political establishment in Florida, and students Palestinians are always going to stand against actions like these. Now, obviously, it’s a rhetorical victory,” Ruby told FSU News.
Amid the demonstration, a counter-protest emerged in support of Israel.
“By every conceivable definition, Hamas is a terrorist organization,” Anthony Chiocca, a pro-Israel demonstrator told FSU News. “I support the people of Palestine who are truly victims here. Their government is a terrorist organization that poked a bear they never stood a chance of beating.”
Florida State’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society’s anti-Israel activities on campus have continued since the October demonstration, with the group urging the university’s board of trustees to “divest” from Israel during the board’s meeting on November 10.