FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – What started as the City of Fresno’s attempt to show solidarity with Israel in a simple flag raising Thursday quickly turned into a snapshot of some of the complex problems seemingly making peace in the Middle East nearly impossible to achieve.
“Today is an opportunity at Unity Park, in the spirit of unity, to show our support for the Jewish community as well as the state of Israel,” said Mayor Jerry Dyer at the start of the ceremony.
However, the tone quickly turned hostile, as a crowd of pro-Palestinians started hurling insults.
“Dyer you’re a liar, Dyer you’re a liar,” could be heard over the crowd.
It marked the second time Mayor Dyer squared off with pro-Palestinian protestors in a span of 24 hours.
Thursday morning, after chanting continued, Dyer clapped back.
“You can sense some of that hatred right here today. With people who are standing here supporting what occurred on Saturday and the killing of innocent Israelis and the beheading of Israeli babies. If that is what you stand for, then you do not stand for the United States of America,” shouted Dyer.
Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld, who grew up Jewish before he converted to Christianity, said the pro-Palestine group was essentially a hate group.
“I’ve experienced antisemitism, hatred, and we’re experiencing it today right now with these folks. Israel and the Jewish people throughout the world only want peace,” he said.
One protestor, from Palestine, told us she wants peace too, but that her country also deserves equal representation during the heartbreaking events unfolding in the Middle East.
“Why is our flag not being raised? Why is the Palestinian flag not being mentioned? Are we not people? Are we not humans?”
Jewish leaders, who were in attendance alongside city leaders, asked for everyone to come together and bring a quick end to the war.
“It’s hurting us extremely right now, I know it’s hurting many people on every side. Well, it’s time to stop having sides. It’s time to have just one side. The side of love and the side of putting an end to this cycle of violence,” said Senior Rabbi Rick Winer at Temple Beth Israel.
Three Israeli flags are now flying in downtown alongside multiple American flags.
There will be 24-hour security to ensure the flags are not taken down or vandalized.