A pro-Palestine march down Main Street in Park City drew roughly 100 protesters to the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday. The march, organized by “Let Gaza Live,” bussed protesters in from nearby Kimball Junction and took up space in front of local restaurant Riverhorse on Main.
The event was not affiliated with Sundance. The protest comes as several families of those held hostage by Hamas amid the ongoing war with Israel have been attending events on the ground in Park City.
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“Genocide Joe, what do you say? How many kids did you kill today?” the crowd chanted as festival goers in bulky sweaters ate brunch in an atrium above the street. They referenced President Joe Biden, carrying signs labelling the world leader as a “butcher,” as well as decrying Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The protest remained peaceful, though Park City police ultimately closed almost all of Main Street, the center of the annual cinema gathering.
Noa Tishby, a former Israeli special envoy for antisemitism and a writer-actor-producer, was incredulous when speaking with Variety before sitting for an official Sundance panel running concurrent to the protest.
“It’s a shocking situation that’s happening right now,” said Tishby. “This is a group of uneducated, misguided people that — instead of actually bringing change to the region — they’re standing up there and protesting for the sake of Palestinians. Pro-Israel is the most appropriate way to stand.”
Elaborating on the devastating conflict, Tishby said: “One side is a democracy and, like any other democracy, it’s a flawed democracy. The other side is a jihadi genocidal organization that is fully committed to your annihilation. There’s no symmetry here. Yet they’re being celebrated by bastions of the liberal left as if they are some sort of freedom fighters.”
Families of hostages who arrived at Sundance for events like a candlelight Shabbat celebration on Friday evening used the platform to call for the release of loved ones and a sweeping end to antisemitism.
“The casual environment and seeing the support was really important for us, and to be able to tell our stories,” said Ronen and Orna Neutra, whose 22-year-old son Omer is currently in Hamas captivity. “There are still 136 hostages in Gaza, among them six Americans, including our son. We need to focus on the humanitarian crisis started on October 7 when Israel was attacked, the hostages were taken.”
Protest organizers said they did “not take issue with Sundance as a whole, we aim to let spectators [and] news reporters know that Utah stands with Palestine.”
Per a statement before the march, festival representatives said they were “made aware of the demonstration and its commitment to maintaining a peaceful environment. While the organizers are non-affiliated with the festival itself, the safety and security of our festival goers is always of concern to us, and we consistently work with local law enforcement to uphold an environment that is welcoming, inspiring, and secure for all our attendees.”
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