Pro-Palestinian groups protest Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s canceled ASU appearance in Tempe

Nov 17, 2023, 8:36 PM

Pro-Palestinian protestors in Tempe, Ariz., Nov. 17, 2023. (Photo by Balin Overstolz-McNair/KTAR)...

Pro-Palestinian protestors in Tempe, Ariz., Nov. 17, 2023. (Photo by Balin Overstolz-McNair/KTAR)

(Photo by Balin Overstolz-McNair/KTAR)

PHOENIX — Arizona State University canceled an on-campus appearance by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib D-Mich., Friday, yet a few dozen supporters gathered in Tempe this afternoon and Tlaib addressed the assemblage via teleconference.

At the original scheduled event time of 4 p.m., the pro-Palestinian crowd gathered in front of Neeb Hall to hear remarks by Tlaib and Arizona Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe. Salman, like Tlaib, has called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Technical problems made hearing Tlaib’s statements difficult and her remarks were brief.

The crowd then made their way through the campus and around downtown Tempe chanting slogans such as, “ASU, you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide.”

The march ended and the crowd dispersed by 5:30 p.m. One person was detained by police after a few marchers attempted to delay traffic at College and University avenues.

The Tlaib event was organized by the The Arizona Palestine Network and had the support of the Students for Justice in Palestine and other local and student organizations.

Campus tensions

On Tuesday, a group of students involved in a pro-Palestine group were reportedly throwing rocks at windows outside of an ASU Undergraduate Student Government meeting, and there were claims of anti-Semitic language and death threats.

Students for Justice in Palestine at Arizona State University went to the meeting to petition for ASU to boycott and divest from Israel. Israel declared war against Hamas in response to a deadly attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, killing over 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostages.

Political tensions

Thursday, Arizona Reps. Michael Carbone, Alexander Kolodin, Alma Hernandez and Consuelo Hernandez released a letter calling for Tlaib to not come to ASU.

“The State of Arizona is a safe place for Jews, both on and off campus, and the anti-Semitic rants regurgitated by SJP and others are not representative of Arizona values,” the lawmakers said. “Students supporting Israel have been verbally and physically assaulted on campus in recent days, requiring police escort during SJP rallies.”

ASU released a statement Fridays stating the event was cancelled because proper procedures were not followed.

“Organizers of events using ASU facilities must be properly registered with ASU and must meet all university requirements for crowd management, parking, security, and insurance. In addition, the events must be produced in a way which minimizes disruption to academic and other activities on campus,” the statement declared.

“The event featuring Congresswoman Tlaib was planned and produced by groups not affiliated with ASU and was organized outside of ASU policies and procedures. Accordingly, that event will not take place today on the ASU Tempe campus.”

The U.S. House voted Nov. 7 to censure Tlaib — the only Palestinian American in Congress — for her critiques of Israel’s and the Biden administration’s responses to the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

KTAR’s Balin Overstolz-McNair and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Pro-Palestinian groups protest Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s canceled ASU appearance in Tempe