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Hundreds of New Yorkers take to the streets in support of Gaza

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New Yorkers turned Times Square into a ground for dissent Friday afternoon, taking to the streets in support of Palestinians actively resisting Israeli occupation and dispossession.

More than 200 joined the mobilization organized by NY4Palestine, to mark a confluence of somber events: seventy years of Nakba, the unprecedented move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and Israel’s recent massacre of scores of Palestinians in Gaza.

Since March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have participated in the Great Return March, demanding their right to return to the land Zionist militias seized and in 1948 declared the state of Israel.

Raja Abdulhaq makes impassioned speech at Palestine solidarity rally, calling out both Republicans and Democrats for their many broken promises to Palestinians. (Photo: Jesse Rubin)

“All [Palestinians are] doing is demanding their right to return, a right that is recognized by the international community” said Fatin Jarar of the Al-awda Right to Return Coalition. “They have just been going on the streets and marching and the response has been outrageous, it’s been brutal, it’s been sickening.”

According to numbers compiled by the Ministry of Health, Israel has killed a total of 120 protesters since the Great March of Return began on March 30th, among them civilians, medics, journalists, and minors. At no point did the protest pose any tangible threat to Israel’s border or sovereignty.

The international community has proffered widespread, if not hollow, condemnation of Israel’s human rights violations in Gaza.

In the United States however, both the Trump administration and most Democrats have defended the mowing down of peaceful protestors, parroting the Israeli government line which justifies killing unarmed civilians by characterizing them as members of Hamas. At the height of the killings, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an impromptu trip to stand in “solidarity” with Israel, even as the number of wounded Palestinians passed 10,000.

Jarar stressed that NY4Palestine is founded on the principle of supporting the fundamental right of Palestinians under military occupation to resist by whatever means necessary.

(Photo: Jesse Rubin)

“They’re not just representing themselves as the people of Gaza, they’re representing all Palestinians across the world. They’re representing Palestinians in the diaspora, millions of Palestinian refugees,” Jarar told Mondoweiss. “We have never trusted the international community to step in for us so we are taking matters into our own hands.”

The NYPD lined both sides of Broadway in large numbers alongside the rally and later the march.

Many of the organizations and speakers belonged to NY4Palestine, a coalition of New York-based Palestine solidarity organizations. Members include Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, local chapters of American Muslims for Palestine and the Muslim American Society, New York City Students for Justice in Palestine, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, International Action Center, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, and the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

Organizers and those engaged in other struggles like that of black liberation spoke alongside members of the coalition, highlighting the intersectionality of Palestinian liberation at a time of a far-right nationalist insurgence globally.

Born and raised in Kashmir until moving to the US as an adult, Hafsa Kanjwal, Assistant Professor of history at Lafayette College specializing in South Asian history drove from New Jersey to speak at the rally.

“I’m here to support the Palestinian cause as another person from a struggle that is against an occupying power” Kanjwal told Mondoweiss. While distinct, she noted similarities between the Israeli occupation of Palestine and India’s occupation of Kashmir, including a legacy of British colonial rule followed by partition.

As New Yorkers drove by, some expressed their support. This woman gives a peace sign and the driver honks the car horn. (Photo: Jesse Rubin)

Having been to both places, she said, Palestinians and Kashmiris are subjected to the same forms of repression like shoot-on-sight orders, surveillance, a lack of hospitals, schools, and other basic services and an entrenched occupying military industrial complex.

2017 marked a record forty-percent increase in Israel’s arms exports sales from the year before and showed India’s $2 billion defense contract with Israel to be the single largest source of sales.

“India and Israel work in tandem with each other in terms of sharing military technology, surveillance techniques, torture techniques” Kanjwal told Mondoweiss, adding both states employ a racist ideology, “a particular form of Islamophobia that is used to undermine the legitimate struggle of both the Kashmiris and the Palestinians.”

Both peoples are “living and trying to exist in a society that’s completely structured by this military apparatus.”

In usual fashion, the Jewish Defense League showed up to counter-protest. Their numbers were notably larger than usual, though still paled in comparison to the Palestine solidarity rally.

After the rally, organizers lead a march across 42nd Street and several avenues east to the Israeli Consulate on 2nd Avenue. Outside the consulate organizers stressed the importance of taking their anger and frustration over recent events and translating it into strategic work toward ending US aid to Israel.

Noura Farouq, an organizer with NY4Palestine and co-founder of Within our Lifetime noted the particular significance of passing the 70th anniversary of the Nakba and the urgency among Palestinians to end the occupation and return home after seven decades.

Farouq’s 91-year-old grandmother was forced from her hometown of Akka in 1948 at the age of twenty, and has lived as a refugee in Lebanon since. After 70 years, the generation of Nakba survivors are getting into their later years which means losing much of the firsthand memory of the event.

“That’s creating a big sense of urgency, especially for the Palestinian youth,” Farouq told Mondoweiss. “Secondly, it creates the idea that Israel is a permanent fixture, that settler colonialism is a permanent thing, a success.”

“You can’t have settler colonialism without either expelling, killing or oppressing the indigenous population” and for exactly this reason said Farouq, “we can’t normalize settler colonialism.”

(Photo: Jesse Rubin)

Correction: This article originally stated that Aaron Schlossberg participated in the Jewish Defense League counter-rally. We have deleted this after not being able to independently verify his attendance there.

About Jesse Rubin

Jesse Rubin is a freelance journalist from New York. Twitter: @JesseJDRubin

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9 Responses

  1. Marnie
    Marnie
    May 21, 2018, 12:54 pm

    “In usual fashion, the Jewish Defense League showed up to counter-protest. Their numbers were notably larger than usual, though still paled in comparison to the Palestine solidarity rally.

    However in their midst was Aaron Schlossberg , the lawyer who recently became infamous after he was filmed making a racist rant followed by threats to call the Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agency on a Spanish-speaking restaurant waitstaff.”

    Aaron Schlossberg? That’s scraping the bottom of the barrell! Who’s next, David Duke?

    • Emory Riddle
      Emory Riddle
      May 22, 2018, 7:56 am

      David Duke pushes white nationalism identical to Zionism. Think of that. The Zionist Orgs slam him as a racist for doing so…though their real problem with him is how he exposes the Zionists. And Duke hates the Zionists for doing what he would like to do for “white” people.

      Sides of a coin.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      May 22, 2018, 10:02 am

      Meanwhile,

      http://plenglish.com/index.php?o=rn&id=28438&SEO=brazilian-singer-son-writer-gilberto-gil-cancels-show-in-israel

      Prensa Latina – May 21, 2018

      “Brazilian Singer-song writer Gilberto Gil Cancels Show in Israel”

      “Brasilia — Prominent Brazilian singer and composer Gilberto Gil canceled the show he would offer in Israel on July 4, in rejection of the Palestinian massacre perpetrated by that nation’s army in Gaza.

      “The information was amplified here today by the digital newspaper Brasil 247, which recalled that in 2015, Gil and Caetano Veloso were criticized by the human rights activist and former Pink Floyd Roger Waters leader for appearing in Israel.

      “On that occasion, it added, the Brazilians performed the show, but criticized the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

      “By the middle of this month, the Zionist army attacked a demonstration of Palestinians in Gaza Strip that demanded their right to return to the mother land. The balance was more than 60 dead and thousands injured.

      “In an official note, the Brazilian government limited itself to expressing that it was accompanying with great concern the increase in violence in the Gaza Strip, to demand moderation from the parties, and to urge Israel to respect international humanitarian law.”

      • Marnie
        Marnie
        May 22, 2018, 11:20 am

        Good news from Brazil –

        However, I expect jon s and friends (faux liberal and zio-friends) to come back with the rejoinde that the fabulous Norwegian singing sensation from the 1980s (soon to be pensioners) are going to degrade themselves by fellating the zionist state next month as part of ELECTRIC SUMMER 2018 tour!!! It should be totally awesome for the old israeli farts to trip the white fantastic with an extra hit of viagra to be safe and boogie all the way to the nearest port-a-potty for a sexy israeli-style schtupping ala shithouse. Smells like senior spirit. Gag me with a spoon.

      • Misterioso
        Misterioso
        May 22, 2018, 4:23 pm

        @Marnie, et al.

        Here’s some good news from my Canadian friend:

        These two articles regarding Palestine and Palestinians were published by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW.)

        https://www.cupw.ca/en/nakba-commemoration-may-15?utm_source=CUPW+STTP&utm_campaign=ff3ec7d9d3-CUPW_eDigest&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4d5dc8fced-ff3ec7d9d3-210000969

        Nakba Commemoration of May 15/18
        EXCERPT:

        “Nabil Marouf, Palestine Representative
        Canada Office
        18 The Driveway
        Ottawa, ON K2P 1C6

        Dear Mr. Marouf;

        “On behalf of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Palestine Postal Service Workers’ Union, I am writing to recognize the Nakba commemoration of May 15 and extend our hope that the Palestinian people and nation will finally receive the human and social justice so deserved. We regret any Canadian support, either directly or through silence, about the ongoing atrocities occurring on your occupied lands. We cannot condone any support for a regime of hatred based on continuing land theft and human rights abuses. In reality, the Nakba has never really ended.

        “On the day of May 15 we will not only remember the Nakba but also recognize that Palestinians are still standing with dignity even though terrorized Palestine still expresses their rightful claim for justice and respect. In this way, Palestine has taught the world a lesson in human dignity by refusing to disappear or abandon your nation under grave circumstances.

        “Our Union will publicize this day with our membership across the country. We are part of a growing movement in Canada and globally that understand the problems of Palestine did not begin in 1967 but rather is part of a long-term strategy to occupy all of Palestine.”

        https://www.cupw.ca/en/what-happening-palestine-nakba-–-70th-anniversary-palestinian-catastrophe?utm_source=CUPW+STTP&utm_campaign=ff3ec7d9d3-CUPW_eDigest&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4d5dc8fced-ff3ec7d9d3-210000969

        “What is Happening in Palestine? – Nakba – 70th Anniversary of the Palestinian Catastrophe”
        Monday, May 14 2018

        “Every Friday since March 30th, the media have been reporting on what is happening at the wall between Gaza and Israel: the deaths, the injured, the human rights violations, and each and every one of us is asking ‘Why?’

        “THE FACTS
        To truly understand the events in recent weeks, we need to go back to the origins and review the facts. What really happened in Palestine in 1948? Here is what history tells us: NAKBA began the day after November 29, 1947, when the United Nations divided Palestine into two parts, one to create a country for the Jewish people (56% of historic Palestine) and another (44%) to create a country for the Palestinians. Throughout 1948, the Jewish Army Militia, using a plan dating back to at least 1936, forced out of their homes the Palestinians living on their territory. More than 750,000 Palestinians were thrown onto the streets and became refugees, and 531 villages or city neighbourhoods were completely destroyed. The same militia also began acquiring by force of arms the lands that the United Nations had set aside to create a country for the Palestinians, to the point where, in just one year, Palestinians were left with only 22% of historic Palestine. The creation of the State of Israel was proclaimed on May 15, 1948.

        “On December 11, 1948, the United Nations adopted resolution 194 recognizing Israel, provided Palestinians could return home or be fairly compensated. This ‘right of return’ was confirmed more than 110 times by the United Nations, but was always rejected by Israel.

        “THE GREAT MARCH OF RETURN
        This is the context in which we must look at the events happening in Gaza – a situation exacerbated by Donald Trump’s decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The ‘Great March of Return,’ as it is now called, is to protest 70 years of occupation and colonization of Palestine by the State of Israel, as well as 70 years of resistance by the Palestinian people. Palestinians are simply asking for the respect of the resolutions adopted by the United Nations, i.e. the right to return.

        “WE MUST TAKE ACTION
        That is why, as workers and citizens, we cannot remain indifferent. That is why CUPW supports the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the State of Israel until it respects international law and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including withdrawing from the occupied territories, ending the blockade on Gaza, destroying the Wall, recognizing that all citizens are equal and allowing refugees to return.”

        In Solidarity,
        Dave Bleakney
        2nd National Vice-President

      • Marnie
        Marnie
        May 23, 2018, 12:07 am

        More good news! I feared Justin Trudeau was too good to be true, but thankfully he doesn’t speak for the many righteous canadians like those of the CUPW. Great article!

  2. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    May 21, 2018, 4:44 pm

    Competition for this shoddy spectacle is both welcome and necessary :

    • Marnie
      Marnie
      May 23, 2018, 7:06 am

      From video, propaganda and bullshit from some clown at 4:20, including “Israel is under siege”.

      “Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty”. Josef Goebbels.

  3. May 21, 2018, 8:00 pm

    Interesting discussion about some of the similarities between the plight of the Kashmiris and Palestinians.

    From Ferguson to Gaza to Kashmir

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