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Pro-Palestine Protest Drives California Governor to Move Tree Lighting Online

The California State Capitol following a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Wikimedia Commons
The California State Capitol following a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Wikimedia Commons

By: Kenneth Schrupp | The Center Square

Planned pro-Palestine protests attended by an estimated two hundred people appear to have driven California governor Gavin Newsom to hold the state capitol’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony online, highlighting a growing divide between moderate, pro-Israel Democrats and pro-Palestine progressives.

“As we continue to see protests across the country impacting the safety of events of all scales — and for the safety and security of all participating members and guests including children and families — the ceremony this year will be virtual,” a spokesperson for the governor’s office said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

The state’s 92nd tree lighting ceremony, typically a major public event, was planned for Tuesday night but moved to a pre-recorded internet video released on Wednesday.

The Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights’ planned protest for Tuesday evening’s event had the catchphrase “We say NO to genocide” posted on Instagram, with a succession of pro-Palestine events displayed in the post. For Wednesday, the organization promoted a pro-Palestine teach-in, a boycott event of Sabra Hummus on Saturday, and a march on Sunday for International Human Rights Day.

Pro-Palestinian protests at Christmas tree lighting ceremonies across the country have not entirely been peaceful. Hundreds of protestors who arrived at the Rockefeller Center tree lighting in New York City “swarmed” a nearby tree in front of Fox News’ headquarters when they were unable to make it to Rockefeller, leading to a standoff and ensuing melee with police.

Newsom had traveled to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the start of the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza, signaling his support for Israel by doing so at a time when many progressives are increasingly supporting Palestine. According to a Gallup poll from before the conflict, 49% of Democrats support Palestine while 38% support Israel. A majority of Independents and two-thirds of Republicans support Israel over Palestine.

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