BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Demonstrators with “All Out for Palestine” took to southwest Bakersfield streets on Friday, saying they’re here to support Palestinians and the innocent civilians caught in the middle of war.
The rally was held on Oct. 20 at the intersection of Stockdale Highway and California Avenue, where protesters lined up to voice support for Palestine amid the intensifying conflict.
“People accost you in public and say, ‘Why not put the flags down?’ If you do that, they’re winning,” said demonstrator Gassan Kanafi. “We’re showing we are here, we’re not going anywhere and we’re citizens of this country, and we take great pride in where we’re from and we feel nothing but enormous pain seeing the genocide of our people live-streamed, seeing children pulled from the rubble.”
Many Palestinian protesters said they do not excuse the attack on Israelis that started the war, but do say the tension has been building for years.
Another “All Out for Palestine” rally was held on Friday, Oct. 13, making this rally the second protest in two weeks. According to Kanafi, the group has hosted a number of protests in the past demonstrating support for Palestinians when “things get particularly dire.”
“What we’re here for today is to demonstrate the ongoing genocide in Gaza, where so far Israel slaughtered 4,200 Palestinians, over half of whom are women and children, and 1,200 Palestinians remain missing — an estimated 700 of whom are children,” said Kanafi. “We’re here trying to bring awareness and demonstrate against that.”
Jewish communities around the world are ramping up security and it is no different in Bakersfield. Chabad of Bakersfield and Temple Beth El, two local synagogues in Bakersfield, told 17 News both synagogues have been taking measures since Hamas attacked Israel to make safety a priority in an effort to keep their people safe.
“The security provides a sense of security that you’re technically safer, you know, obviously, we need to do everything that we can to keep safe, to keep our community safe, to keep our children safe, because antisemitism has risen about 500% in the past two weeks, just in the two weeks, and we need to keep ourselves safe,” said Chabad of Bakersfield’s Esther Schlanger.
However, according to Kanafi, local Palestinian groups and supporters have also amped up security, but emphasize that they mean no harm.
“Over the last two weeks alone, I’ve been accosted a number of times,” said Kanafi. “I do feel for anybody who feels they are unsafe, however, there’s never been any indication or intention of the Palestinian community of Bakersfield to antagonize or to ever harm anybody. That’s never been communicated, to my knowledge, nothing’s ever happened in that regard.”