Hundreds of protesters from pro-Palestine and pro-Israel groups met face-to-face at the University of Sydney vigil for the first time today, but there were none of the scenes of violence that have characterised campus protests in the US.

The largely peaceful protests were marked by chanting, singing and dancing from both sides, with only a few angry exchanges.

The demonstrations were a far cry from the violence and vitriol on display at universities across the United States, like Columbia and Yale, where hundreds of anti-war students, professors and journalists have been beaten and arrested by police and attacked by counter-protestors.

Police were almost completely absent from today’s demonstrations, with just a few officers and patrol cars guarding university gates. Approximately 50 private security guards formed human chains to keep the two protest groups separate, however some protestors broke through with minor scuffles taking place on either side.

The pro-Israeli group, of approximately 150, was populated by largely older demonstrators, with a few students and young people joining. The Palestinian protest, which was made up of mainly university aged students, had about 500 participants.

The Gaza Solidarity Encampment, which sprang up at the University of Sydney last week, and is attended by as many as 150 students at any one time has focused on educating passersby about the conflict in Gaza, but has been attacked by the media and pro-Israel advocates as antisemitic for criticising Israel.


Protestors from opposing sides of the Israel/Gaza conflict met in a largely peaceful set of demonstrations at the University of Sydney today.

Both sides gave speeches, with the Israeli march singing the national anthems of Australia and Israel before moving towards the Gaza Solidarity Camp on the USYD lawns.


Pro-Palestinians formed a human chain to block pro-Israeli protestors from entering the lawns, however only a handful of protestors crossed each sides lines.

Many pro-Israel protestors were unhappy with USYD’s response to the encampment, and called the demonstrations “un-Australian”.


There were a few minor scuffles between protestors. Police patrolled the gates of the university, while a large number of private security guards formed human chains to manage the flow of protestors.

Pro-Israel protestors and speakers described themselves as “proud Australians”, playing I Am Australian by The Seekers as they marched towards the Gaza Solidarity Camp.


There were about 150 pro-Israel protestors, and about 500 pro-Palestine protestors, with the latter group appearing to be primarily university students.

The pro-Israel march featured largely older demonstrators, many of whom wore one of the 500 yellow ‘Stop Hate Mate’ shirts distributed at the event.

Organisers from the Palestine Action Group worked throughout the rally to keep tensions from escalating as the groups moved closer together.


After the pro-Israel protest dispersed, the pro-Palestine group ended their demonstration, before beginning a “teach-in” about the history and impacts of the Vietnam War.

Pro-Palestinians chanted “from the river to the sea” and called out Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who they believe has been complacent in the conflict.      


Main image of pro-Palestine student protester. All photos by Nick Newling.