Jewish, Arab communities in metro Detroit hold rallies in wake of Israel attack

Metro Detroit’s Arab and Jewish communities both held rallies this week in support of Israel and Palestine following Saturday’s surprise attack by Hamas.

Young men hold the flags for Palestine and Syria at a pro-Palestinian rally in Dearborn on October 10, 2023.

As metro Detroit’s Arab and Jewish communities continue to mourn the hundreds of civilian deaths reported following Saturday’s surprise attack by Hamas in southern Israel, both communities are rallying around its members in support.

It was a packed house at the Ford Performing Arts Center in Dearborn last night as hundreds attended an event in support of Palestinians in response to the growing casualties from Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip.

The night before, members of the Jewish community gathered at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield — along with several elected officials — in a show of support for Israel following Hamas’ brutal and unprecedented attack on Israeli civilians  — the country’s worst single-day attack in at least 50 years.

Members of metro Detroit's Jewish community gathered at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield on Monday, Oct. 9, in a show of support for Israel following Saturday's attack.
Members of metro Detroit’s Jewish community gathered at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield on Monday, Oct. 9, in a show of support for Israel following Saturday’s attack.

Tensions remain high within both communities as frustrations mount regarding the lens in which both sides are viewing the recent attacks, as well as the mainstream media’s coverage that followed.

“Most of the media is really one-sided, unfortunately,” said Detroit resident Abraham Obaid, who attended Tuesday’s rally in Dearborn. “And they make the oppressed look like they are the oppressor.”

That sentiment was echoed by speakers throughout the evening who say Palestinians living in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank have suffered greatly under Israel’s control, long before Saturday’s attack put a global spotlight on the ongoing conflict.

In the Jewish community, many are disturbed by the media’s and some political leaders’ hesitancy to refer to Saturday’s mass murder as a terrorist attack, as well as by some members of metro Detroit’s Arab American community’s refusal to denounce Hamas or acknowledge the group’s role in the suffering of both Israeli and Palestinian people.

“We want to hear that the way Hamas acted is not the way Muslims should act, whatever your politics are,” Rabbi Asher Lopatin, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee, told Detroit Today on Tuesday. “To say that we feel for the deaths of Palestinians and Israelis without singling out what Hamas did and is doing — with kidnapping kids, babies in cages — it’s very painful, very hurtful.”

Lopatin is referring specifically to comments made by Detroit U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib — the only Palestinian American in Congress — who came under fire this week for not explicitly condemning the Palestinian militant group in the wake of the attack.

The United Nations Human Rights Council says it has documented war crimes – including the killing of civilians by both Hamas and the Israeli Government since fighting started on Saturday.

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  • Jenny Sherman
    Jenny Sherman is 101.9 WDET's Digital Editor. She received her bachelor’s in journalism from Michigan State University and has worked for more than a decade as a reporter and editor for various media outlets throughout metro Detroit.
  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.