About 300 people gathered last night for a candlelight procession in front of Holyoke Center, waving signs and chanting slogans condemning recent Israeli actions in Lebanon, and calling for an immediate cut off of American aid to Israel.
The rally was organized by the Boston-based Lebanon-Palestine Crisis Coalition, formed by local Arab and other political groups in reaction to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. No Harvard students were involved in the coalition, organizers said.
Nuhad Jamal, a spokesman for the coalition, said the rally was to protest Israel's "butchery" of Palestinians in Lebanon, and to promote an end to U.S. aid to Israel. U.S. recognition of the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, and a recognition that "Zionism is racism."
About 30 Coalition members wearing yellow arm bands saying "security" were spread throughout the crowd, joining a large number of Cambridge and Harvard police officers.
Fatch Azzam, another member of the coalition, said that the private security force was there because many of the protestors were non-citizen students, who want to avoid any trouble that might threaten their status in the country.
In addition to this protest, Azzam said the coalition has been raising money for a relief effort in Lebanon and holding teach-ins in the Cambridge area.
Azzam said that a rally the group held yesterday at the Israeli embassy was broken up by mounted police, who rode into their picket line, injuring some of the protesters. Azzam added that one of the protesters is now hospitalized with a torn back muscle.
In a separate rally, about 15 members of the Spartacus Youth League picketed outside the Freshman Union earlier in the evening, also protesting Israeli involvement with the killings in Lebanon.
That rally, in which SYL members circled in front of the Union with hand-printed signs attacking "Israel atrocity" in Lebanon, attracted a crowd of about 75 students, many of whom heckled the protesters.
At one point, when a rally speaker shouted through a megaphone. "I find it hard to understand the people standing on the sidelines," the group of spectators shouted back. "We don't agree with you."