On Oct. 7, the militant wing of Hamas, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, launched a massive military operation into Israeli territory, shooting thousands of rockets into Israel, followed by an attack by land, air and sea, with fighters penetrating deep into territory under Israeli control. They attacked military installations and temporarily took over various settlements.
Within hours of the news of the historic uprising of Palestinians — many who went outside of Gaza for the first time in years — solidarity marches and rallies were organized in countless cities in the U.S. and around the globe, particularly in Arab countries. These initial rallies took on increased significance as imperialist allies of Israel — France, Germany, and the Netherlands — banned rallies supporting Palestine.
Thousands came out in the streets in New York City in solidarity with Palestine this past week. On Oct. 8, the All Out for Palestine rally filled the plaza in Times Square, and then people marched across 42nd Street to the Zionist Israeli mission to the United Nations a block away from the U.N. On Oct. 9, Indigenous Peoples Day, Palestinian youth and supporters came out again, filling the street close to the Zionist mission with signs and Palestinian flags. After chanting support for the Palestinian resistance nonstop for over two hours, they marched in the streets to the front door of the U.S. mission to the U.N. a few blocks away.
On Oct. 10, a protest in front of U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s office on a busy corner in downtown Newark, New Jersey, demanded “Hands off Gaza” and “Stop U.S. funding of Israel.” Workers World Party signs were held high throughout the crowd at all three demonstrations.
On Indigenous People’s Day, Oct. 9, hundreds took to the streets for a rally and march organized by Palestinian youth and students from the Boston area in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance to 75 years of U.S. sponsored Israeli zionist terror. Mahtowin Munro, co-leader of United American Indians of New England (UAINE), opened the rally on the steps of Cambridge City Hall with a message of solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle from Indigenous people on this land, adding, “It is not our job as non Palestinian people to tell them how to conduct their struggle. Palestine has a right to determine its own destiny.”
Other talks were given by leaders of New England House of Palestine, Jericho Boston, the Boston South Asian Coalition (BSAC), and Palestinian youth organizers. The crowds cheered when Suhail of BSAC said “Wherever there is oppression, there will be resistance. And wherever resistance meets organization and takes the opportunity of the day, there will be revolution….When Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey led the slave rebellions in this country they were called terrorists…Whenever oppressed people fight back against their oppressors they are called terrorists…In the words of Malcolm X, when an oppressed people use force to fight back against their oppressor, I don’t call that violence, I call that intelligence.”
The march then took off across Cambridge, first stopping at Elbit Systems, located in the heart of the city. They are the largest supplier of weapons and surveillance equipment, including drones, to Israel. Cambridge’s largest export is death, and the people of this city are in fierce opposition to this, chanting “Shut Down Elbit!” These same drones are used to patrol the borders between Mexico and the U.S. Mere days later on Oct. 12, Palestine solidarity activists began shutting down Elbit Systems and will continue to do so, chanting “from Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go!”
Organized in under 24 hours, the Philadelphia march from Rittenhouse Square to City Hall, for a solidarity rally with the historic uprising in Palestine, drew over 250 protesters on Oct. 8. The demonstration was organized by the Philadelphia Palestine Coalition and supported by a number of organizations. Speakers commented that the multinational rally was not just made up of Palestinians but included supporters from many diverse struggles.
Cars and a three-wheeled motorcycle with drivers carrying large Palestinian flags preceded the sound truck and marchers. All along the route, people stopped to take pictures and video and to accept available literature. Chants of “Resistance is justified when people are occupied” and “There is only one solution, Intifada revolution!” echoed off high rise buildings. Video of the demonstration is available at youtube.com/watch?v=JYfEYy81B0s.
In Cleveland, an “Emergency Demonstration” Oct. 9, called on one day’s notice, drew a large crowd of Palestinians and supporters of Palestinian liberation. Rally speakers led chants in Arabic and English, such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” The action was sponsored by Palestine Youth Movement, Al-Awda and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Several hundred demonstrators gathered in downtown Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, on Oct. 8 to show support for the Palestinian resistance. The emergency action was put together by the Party for Socialism and Liberation and endorsed by Muslim Women For, Refund Raleigh, Samidoun (Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network) and Migrant Roots Media. Participants included representatives from Muslims for Social Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace, Workers World Party and several members of Palestinian student organizations.
The speakers were unwavering in their message. While the necessity of violence in desperate circumstances was not glamorized, no speaker droned on about excesses on both sides or condemned both the IDF and Hamas while saying nothing of substance.
Instead, the right of an occupied people to resist their colonization with force was upheld with clear language, and the courage of Palestinian revolutionaries was praised. The crowd responded energetically to this message.
Speakers ranged from Palestinians speaking on behalf of their homeland to Jewish people tired of seeing their religion used as a shield to defend genocide. Black revolutionaries noted the connection shared by all colonized people who fought back against the empire. Speakers addressed the direct link between the U.S. military industrial complex and Israel itself. Several media outlets filmed the demonstration.
The march left Moore Square and took to the roads of Raleigh, winding past businesses and between apartment buildings. Bystanders watched from the sidewalks, rooftops and balconies. Marchers chanted powerful slogans: “Palestine will be free!” and “Intifada, Intifada, Intifada!” The chanting alternated between English, Spanish and Arabic.
By the time the demonstrators had circled back to Moore Square, it appeared to have grown in numbers, with several onlookers inspired by the demonstration to join it.
On Oct. 8, dozens took to the streets in Portland, Oregon, to show immediate and unconditional support for the liberation of Palestine. Palestinians at the emergency rally spoke of the pain of being forever separated from their families, unable to return home due to Israel’s control over the borders. Chants and signs alike called out the U.S. military industrial complex’s relationship with Israel and its hand in allowing it to colonize Palestine.
As the rally proceeded through the city, a cacophony of supportive honks from motorists demonstrated that U.S. workers are not aligned with the ruling class’ lockstep support for Israel. As always, the empire’s media behemoth will work overtime to obfuscate reality, but it will have to work even harder to convince Portlanders to abandon their support for a free Palestine.
Contributing to this article: Marsha Goldberg, Sara Flounders, Sue Harris, Joe Piette, Martha Grevatt, the Durham WW Bureau, Mairead Skehan Gillis, and Maddi Johnson.