TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Palestinians and their allies gathered Tuesday afternoon outside Florida's Capitol to demand a ceasefire as the war in Israel rages. The peaceful protest flooded the plaza outside of the statehouse. The three buses of Palestinian-Americans and their supporters totaled more than 100.
The push for peace comes as Israel continues its offensive in Gaza. There, camps and hospitals have been caught in the crossfire between state forces and Hamas militants. The group first attacked and kidnapped Israeli civilians more than a month ago.
On top of that, the Council on American-Islamic Relations reports a national uptick in Islamophobic and anti-Arab complaints. The group reported recently that between Oct. 7 and Nov. 4, CAIR's national headquarters and chapters had received a total of 1,283 requests for help and reports of bias. That's an increase of 216% compared to last year, CAIR said.
For those who traveled to Tallahassee, like Leali Shalabi, an end to the fighting could save innocent lives, give time to find a long-term solution, and ease tensions here at home.
"This hate that's instilled in so many Americans is only going to grow into something that we can no longer control," Shalabi, a second-generation Palestinian, said. "I just urge for Americans, for politicians, for everyone around the world to choose peace."
Just last week, the Florida House rejected a resolution supporting a ceasefire — only two voted in favor of the idea. Among the many who were opposed to the resolution was South Florida Democrat and Jewish Rep. Mike Gottlieb of Davie. He told us the idea was a nonstarter.
"I don't think you pause and say, 'OK, I'm going to lay down my weapons and let you come back at me,'" Gottlieb said. "You need to eradicate that cancer [Hamas] and move forward, then rebuild. That's how you show your humanitarian concern."
Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a resolution supporting Israel last week, backing its sovereignty and right to defend itself. On Monday, the governor also signed bills bolstering security at Jewish temples and schools, while sanctioning Iran.