Advocates call on Jacksonites to educate themselves on Gaza conflict

Pro-Palestine supporters held a rally in Jackson over the weekend, discussing the Israel-Hamas War with residents.
Jackson residents rally for Palestine at the town square on Saturday. It comes over a month into the Israel-Hamas War. (Tyler Pratt/KHOL)

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Politics & Policy

Roughly two dozen Jackson residents took to the town square over the weekend to rally for Palestinians as the Israel-Hamas war rages on. 

Adults and children held signs many calling for a ceasefire standing in front of the iconic archway of elk antlers Saturday morning. A dog with a poster attached to it that read “Pups 4 Palestine” darted through the group.

For about three hours, participants broke into “Free Palestine” chants, sometimes supported by a passing vehicle’s car horn.

It was the first Jackson rally in support of Palestine since war broke out last month. Local Jewish groups led a vigil and march for Israel in early October with about 70 participants in the town square.


Joni Gore organized Saturday’s “Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living” protest. 

“I think there has been a lot of support to act, but I think that people were looking for a champion to lead the movement,” Gore said. “There’s a lot of hesitation unfortunately, because Zionism has been conflated with Judaism and nobody wants to be labeled antisemitic.” 

A mother and her child play next to the sign they made at a rally for Palestine in Jackson [Tyler Pratt/KHOL]

Gore, who is Jewish, said she wanted to raise awareness in Jackson of the more than 10,000 people — mostly women and children — that have died in Gaza, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. The Israel’s Foreign Ministry says around 1,200 people were killed by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.

“My religion does not support the mass killing of civilians,” Gore said. “I’m letting my anger over what’s happening and my love for humanity drive me into action.”

Calls for action

Digital flyers sent out before the rally gave participants a list of dos and don’ts, asking them to focus on the humanitarian crisis and calls for ceasefire, to wear the red, white, green and white colors of the Palestinian flag and show respect for all religions. 

Dan Sheehan wore a Palestinian soccer jersey and held a sign saying “Stop The Killing.” He said he hasn’t seen many protests in support of Palestine in Wyoming and wanted to have his voice heard.

A rally in support of Palestine was also scheduled for Saturday three hours away in Lander.

Dan Sheehan [R) holds a sign at the Jackson rally wearing a ‘FC Palestino’ soccer jersey he says helps raise money for Palestinian people. [Tyler Pratt/KHOL]

“We’re against the bombardment of Gaza, we’re against the indiscriminate treatment of children and civilians. There needs to be peace now,” Sheehan said. “I think it’s important Wyomingites make that clear. The rest of the country is making it clear because it’s our tax dollars that are funding this genocide too.” 

President Joe Biden has called for billions in additional assistance for Israel, which aren’t included in the most recent spending bill before Congress. The U.S. has historically been the largest supplier of military aid to the country. 

“To an extent, blood is on the hands of everyone in the country, unbeknownst to them in many cases,” Sheehan said. 

Attendees also offered the community literature and resources to help educate themselves on conflict, and asked them to reach out to Wyoming’s congressional delegation and state lawmakers to share their support for Palestine and call for a ceasefire.

“Every action matters,” Gore said. “Every conversation you have, every call you make to your representative does matter. And don’t lose hope that we as a people can stop this.”

A table at Saturday’s Palestine rally showing resources people can look into to educate themselves on the Gaza conflict and information on their elected representatives. (Tyler Pratt/KHOL)

Opposing viewpoints 

Local musician Judd Grossman, who helps run prayers for the Jackson Hole Jewish Community, said he went to Saturday’s rally because he was curious as to what people were protesting and had written on their signs. 

A Jackson vigil for Israel in October. (Emily Cohen/KHOL)

“I have a love for the people of Israel and for the country of Israel,” Grossman told KHOL on Monday. “I went [to the rally] on my own because I’m Jewish, and I’m a Zionist in that I believe that Israel has a right to exist and that Jews have a right to live in their native homeland in an independent state.” 

Grossman said he had productive conversations with rally attendees in an effort to better understand their views. 

“I actually found it somewhat gratifying to find out that the folks there essentially shared my values about how people should be treated and about what justice means,” Grossman said. “We don’t want to see civilians hurt. And we don’t support rape, torture, murder of civilians or combatants, and want to see a peaceful Middle East where Israelis and Palestinians can thrive.” 

A dog at Saturday;s rally wears a pro-Palestine sign. (Tyler Pratt/KHOL)

Grossman said he opposes the use of the word genocide to describe Israel’s military response in Gaza. 

“Unfortunately, in war, civilians and noncombatants get killed in the crossfire,” Grossman said. “I think people throw around the idea of genocide or war crimes without understanding the definition.” 

Grossman pointed to the leaflets the Israeli government has dropped in recent weeks warning Gaza residents they need to evacuate their neighborhoods. But the Gaza health ministry reports, Israeli bombardment has killed thousands of civilians in the areas that Israel has ordered them to move from. 

Grossman said he doesn’t support a ceasefire, because he worries Hamas will use it as an opportunity to “try to regroup and to try to commit more atrocities against Israel.” 

But Grossman said he’s not an expert in Middle East issues and welcomed more discussions in Jackson with people with opposing viewpoints.

“Obviously our little town is quite removed from what’s really going on,” Grossman said. “So I don’t feel like our community is being disrupted by this war. But I think people in the community are upset and interested in trying to understand what’s going on.”

Rules for the “Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living” protest in Jackson. [Courtesy photo]

A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds that Americans are split over Israel’s response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

Grossman suggested that people seek out multiple sources for news and look into spaces on social media platforms like X, formerly known at Twitter, where Israelis and Palestinians are carrying out discussions online. 

Gore, who organized the protest, also suggested that people find books and podcasts to help learn the history behind the conflict, as well as follow people who are on the ground in Gaza. 

Finding respite 

Saturday’s rally attendees acknowledged that the news and images from the Israel-Hamas war are incredibly traumatic and difficult to process. And they are seeking out ways to work on their mental health and recenter during this difficult time. 

“My personal coping mechanism is singing,” Gore said. “I’ve been finding myself going on drives or bike rides and just singing my heart out and knowing that my voice is really important at this moment.

Grossman said he’s been miserable since October and hasn’t found a great way to make the days better. 

“But I just carry on with my life and try to be grateful for everything, for my family and my friends and my community,” he said. “And also trying to learn as much about the issues I can so that I can feel like I have some understanding or that I can ask the right questions or respond to the people’s questions in a way that makes sense.” 

Sheehan, who is a new father, said he spends time with his 19-month-old daughter.

“Anytime things feel too bleak, I go outside with her and the dog and I watch them run around like maniacs,” Sheehan said. “That gives me a lot of joy.” 


Protesters hold signs saying “Free Palestine” and “Ceasefire Now” at the Saturday rally. (Tyler Pratt/KHOL)

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About Tyler Pratt

Tyler has over a decade of experience as a jack-of-all-trades at public radio newsrooms across the U.S. He's a Columbia Journalism School alum with a passion for reporting on criminal justice, social justice, and LGBTQ+ issues. He loves New Orleans Saints football, dance floors, tasting new wines and trying out taco spots. Follow Tyler on Twitter @prattattak

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