Protesters in New York City. (Photos: Adam Horowitz)
Shocked and furious New Yorkers took to the streets of Midtown Manhattan and joined thousands of others globally in unequivocally denouncing the Israeli naval attack on a ship carrying civilians and humanitarian aid that was trying to break the siege of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli raid on the “Freedom Flotilla” killed at least 9 people and injured dozens more.
Chanting “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes,” while holding signs condemning what protesters called Israeli “piracy,” at least 1,000 people gathered in Times Square this afternoon and marched to the Israeli Consulate building. The demonstrators demanded an end to U.S. aid to Israel—which amounts to about $3 billion a year—and accountability for Israeli violations of international law like the attack on the flotilla.
A diverse coalition of Arab, Muslim, Jewish and left-wing groups filled the streets of New York with Turkish and Palestinian flags. The Turkish government unofficially backed the convoy of six boats, and the boat the Israelis attacked, the Mavi Marmara, carried 600 activists and was headed by a Turkish aid organization.
The protest was organized hastily through word of mouth and the Internet as news of the Israeli attack came in late last night. Another New York protest outside the Israeli Consulate has been called for tomorrow, Tuesday, June 1 at 5:00 PM.
“The attack on that flotilla was just an outrage, and I’m here both as a Jew and as a candidate for office to say this was an outrage and the United States has to condemn this in no uncertain terms,” said Jonathan Tasini, a Democrat running for the 15th Congressional district in New York, a seat currently held by self-described “unwavering supporter of Israel” Charlie Rangel. “It’s time to stop what has frankly been a one-sided policy towards the Middle East, and really, the United States shares part of the blame for what happened yesterday.” Tasini lived in Israel for 7 years of his life.
The protest in New York City was held while similar actions were held around the world. Activists gathered outside the White House in Washington, D.C., while protesters in Paris, Greece and Istanbul clashed with police. Left-wing Israelis held actions at the Ashdod port, which is where the six boats part of the flotilla were docked after the raid, and in Tel Aviv. In the occupied Palestinian territories, clashes broke out between Palestinians, internationals and Israeli forces, and a U.S. journalist was injured in her left eye by a sound bomb.
“Now the world is going to know what exactly is happening to the people of Gaza,” said Fida Qishta, a Palestinian journalist from Rafah in Gaza. “If this has happened to the internationals, what about the people who live there?”