Community members hold encampment counter-protest in support of Israel

Around 5 p.m. on Sunday, a counter-protest in support of Israel assembled around the Palestinian solidarity encampment's perimeters on MacInnes Field.

UBC community members began an encampment in solidarity with Palestine on MacInnes Field on Monday, April 29.

During the counter-protest, Hebrew-language pop music played from a speaker as counter-protestors walked around the encampment’s perimeter with Israeli flags.

Masha Kleiner, a community member at the head of the counter-protest, told The Ubyssey she and the approximately 90 counter-protestors were there to exercise their “right to enjoy music and freedom … to have a friendly walk.”

When asked about what she wanted those inside the encampment to hear, she said she would want them to “recognize that Jews, Israeli Zionists are people.”

On Friday night, the Vancouver chapter of Independent Jewish Voices hosted a Shabbat service inside the encampment.

Approximately a dozen officers from the RCMP and West Vancouver Police stood between the counter-protesters and the encampment. When counter-protesters got too close to the encampment, police asked them to take a step back.

Two RCMP officers standing between encampment's entrance and the counter-protest.
Two RCMP officers standing between encampment's entrance and the counter-protest. Renée Rochefort / The Ubyssey

Counter-protester Maria Ezhova, held a sign that read “Zionism = Jewish Indigenous Self Determination,” told The Ubyssey she is “outraged with lies pouring out of this encampment.”

Ezhova said she disagreed with the encampment’s labelling of Israel’s actions as genocide, saying that the causalities are similar to those seen in other wars.

“[The encampment demonstrators] demand for food and freedom of people in Gaza — what about freedom of hostages?” said Ezhova.

Ezhova said she wasn’t initially interested in engaging with those inside the encampment, saying they “do not want to listen.” Counter-protestor Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin, an education professor at UBC who accompanied Ezhova, shared a different view.

“We have to have dialogue on campus. We have to learn to listen to people who have different opinions. I have no hatred to anybody … who I disagree with, unless [they support] a terrorist organization.”

Ezhova then said she agreed with Milner-Bolotin, saying she is “craving for dialogue and fairer discussion” in the future.

After the counter-protest, the encampment chanted “Free, Free Palestine” under the rain.

The Ubyssey reached out to the encampment organizers for comment, but did not hear back before publishing time.

This article was updated at 5:27 p.m. on Monday, May 6 to better reflect the contents of Maria Ezhova's sign.