A local Jewish man said he was threatened at an anti-Israel rally in Dallas in an exclusive interview with The Dallas Express.
Mark Hurst, 53, alleges that during an anti-Israel rally in the Oak Lawn area on Sunday, he approached some of the demonstrators and “asked a few questions,” looking to engage in civil discourse, but he was met with aggression and hostility.
As previously covered by The Dallas Express, the streets of Dallas have seen several anti-Israel protests since Hamas attacked Israeli communities on October 7, killing more than 1,400 Israelis and abducting roughly 240 others. Israel responded by declaring war on the terrorist organization, launching airstrikes on Gaza and initiating a ground offensive into the Hamas-controlled territory.
“I’m all for free speech,” said Hurst, who told The Dallas Express that he is Jewish and has voted Democrat for the majority of his life. “I’m also pro-Israel, but everybody has their own [beliefs]. That’s what’s so great about this country and city.”
Hurt described an altercation he had with a “rather large Anglo guy” during Sunday’s protest.
“[He] started following me and got his shoulder in my shoulder,” Hurst claimed, noting that he alerted a nearby Dallas police officer.
“[The officer] said, ‘I’m just here for the protest. You’re in public space, he’s in public space,'” Hurst said. “… A couple other guys came over. … One of them said, ‘F**k off, get out of here.’ Another one said, ‘You better leave, or we’re going to knock your glasses off.’ … It was a little bit scary. I thought, ‘How am I going to get out of here?'”
Hurst said he was surprised that the officer did not take any action. The Dallas Police Department told The Dallas Express that it cannot speak directly to Hurst’s allegations but claimed “there were no arrests or major incidents at the rally.”
While he was observing the rally, Hurst was “struck” by a protest sign that had a picture of President Joe Biden’s face with the caption “Genocide Joe.” Hurst said he found the sign “pretty inappropriate.”
“As I got close, just looking up and taking pictures with my cell phone … I encountered some aggression,” he said.
In addition to the “threats of physical violence” leveled against him, Hurst said some protesters made homophobic and antisemitic comments.
“You know, wherever Jews have been, they run them off. What does that tell you?” one protester remarked, according to Hurst.
Hurst asserted that the rally “wasn’t about freedom of speech or saving lives” but was rather “about obliterating Israel and Jew-hatred.” He told The Dallas Express that while he “never heard anybody” explicitly advocating for the obliteration of Israel on Sunday, he has “heard all those things before.”
Hurst said that aside from the comment about Jews getting run off, he did not see or hear any other explicit examples of antisemitism.
“Nobody came into my face after they threatened me and said, ‘Get out of here, Jew boy’ or something like that,” he said.
The Dallas Express also spoke with Asad Shalami, a founding member of the Dallas Palestine Coalition, who said not everyone who participates in pro-Palestine rallies is an effective spokesperson for the Palestinian cause. He stressed that protesters should be peaceful at all times.
Shalami claimed people who attend such rallies have “a spectrum of views” and should not be viewed “as a monolith.”
“If you are anything other than [peaceful], you are actually hurting the Palestinian cause,” Shalami said. “If people approach you from the opposing side, be as cordial and as polite as possible and have a civil discussion.”
Shalami also said that while some issues may arise here in the United States at some protests, people should consider the ongoing crisis taking place in Gaza.
“People who live in this state and have lost numerous family members in Gaza … their emotions understandably may be running quite high,” he said.
The UN recently said that more than 10,000 Gazans have been killed since the beginning of the war, according to Reuters.