The Palestine solidarity group Adalah-NY: the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel lead a march Saturday as part of Israeli Apartheid Week. Here’s their report back:
On a sunny day, 100 New Yorkers marched through crowds of shoppers on Broadway in lower Manhattan today, chanting, singing and carrying signs calling for a boycott of Israel. The protesters stopped to sing boycott songs at Ricky’s, Best Buy, Crate and Barrel and Staples, stores that sell the Israeli settlement products Ahava and SodaStream, and at Israeli-owned businesses Aroma Espresso Bar and Max Brenner, both of which have ties to Israel’s military occupation.
The protest, organized by Adalah-NY and endorsed by a number of Palestine solidarity groups in New York, was one of many events held in New York City this year as part of the 10th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week. It came during a period when the growing power of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel has broken through to the mainstream public in the US, with substantial media attention, the US Secretary of State warning of its growth, and Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu focusing his AIPAC speech on demonizing the movement for human rights, and mobilizing opposition to it.
Noting that the protest fell on International Women’s Day, Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY told the marchers, “Today we remember and honor all of the women, including Palestinian women, who are struggling for justice, for peace, for equality, for the right to live in dignity and for self-determination. And we call on people of conscience from around the world to carry out boycott and divestment initiatives against Israel until it respects the rights of Palestinians currently living under Israeli military occupation, as second-class citizens in Israel and as refugees, denied their right of return to their homes.”
The Rude Mechanical Orchestra, a New York-based radical marching band, provided musical accompaniment as the protesters sang popular songs with rewritten lyrics about products and businesses profiting from Israel’s apartheid regime. To the tune of We’re Not Gonna Take It, the marchers sang, “We’re not gonna buy, no we ain’t gonna buy it, we won’t buy apartheid any more.” Outside Ricky’s they sang, “Oh Ricky’s what a pity, you don’t understand, you’re selling dirty goods, cause Ahava’s stealing land.” As the protesters marched up Broadway amidst throngs out enjoying a sunny, warm respite from a long, cold winter, they chanted, “Shoppers take a stand, no excuse for stealing land;” and “They whitewash, we protest. Boycott, sanction and divest.”
Outside Crate and Barrel, Sherry Wolf of Adalah-NY told the protesters, “By operating in a settlement, SodaStream directly sustains Israel’s illegal and discriminatory settlement policy. Also, far from being environmentally friendly, SodaStream contributes to pollution, as the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim dumps more than 1100 tons of waste daily into a landfill in occupied Palestinian territory.”
The protest was organized in support of the Palestinian-led, international BDS movement, a non-violent initiative to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian human rights that is modeled on the international movement that helped to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. Adalah-NY organized a similar musical walking tour in 2010.
For photos of the protest CLICK HERE
For a short videoclip CLICK HERE
For the songbook and chants from the protest CLICK HERE