Thousands of demonstrators — by some media accounts over 10,000 — shut down the streets around Boston’s Copley Square Oct. 22 to support Palestinian resistance to the genocidal U.S./Zionist bombing and occupation of Gaza.
Organized in four days by the newly formed Boston Coalition for Palestine, the rally was part of a Palestinian-led movement that has mobilized millions in actions worldwide.
Ahmad Kawash, President of the Palestinian House of New England, emphasized the significance of today’s action: “This is the largest outpouring of support for Palestine in Boston’s history. Today, as Israeli bombs — paid for and delivered by the U.S. — destroy the homes and lives of thousands of Palestinian families by the hour, over 30 Boston-area organizations have come out in one voice to say, ‘Stop the genocide and siege of Gaza!’
“As Palestinian students, workers and their supporters at Harvard, Tufts, Brandeis, MIT, Northeastern and universities across the region are under attack by administrators, government officials and big-money donors, today we are here to show the world that we are not afraid to show our solidarity with the Palestinian resistance, which has been fighting the illegal and brutal occupation of our homeland for over 70 years. We — who demand an immediate end to all U.S. aid to Israel — are by far the majority of justice-loving people here and around the world.”
The Palestinian House of New England, a decades-long, Boston-based group of Palestinian activists, initiated the emergency coalition of now over 30 organizations, including: United American Indians of New England (UAINE); the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB); Palestinian Youth Movement; Tufts, Brandeis and Boston University chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine; Mosque for Praising Allah and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).
Also included are the American Muslim Medical Student Association-Boston chapter; Shut Elbit Down; Boston South Asian Coalition; MIT Coalition Against Apartheid; Workers World Party; Muslim Justice League; Stonewall Liberation Organization; Workers Party of Mass.; Party for Socialism and Liberation; Democratic Socialists of America; Pan-Afrikan Liberation Program; Northeastern Huskies for a Free Palestine; Pride at Work Eastern Mass.; IfNotNow; Diocese of Saint Francis of Assisi; Jericho Boston; and Mass Peace Action.
As rally speakers emphasized, the current Zionist assault escalates the genocide of the Palestinian people that began with the 1948 Nakba. In the past two weeks, Zionist terror-bombing has killed at least 8,000 Palestinians imprisoned in Gaza and displaced over 1.4 million.
International organizations estimate that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had destroyed at least 42% of Gaza’s already grossly inadequate housing, while the siege has cut off food, electricity, water and communications. As Israeli forces intensify their bombing and begin land assaults, these figures, as unthinkable as they already are, will almost certainly rise. (Al Jazeera, Oct. 23.)
In the West Bank, settler militias and IDF troops have murdered over 100 Palestinians and rounded up hundreds more for “indefinite detention.” (France 24, Oct. 25.)
Indigenous struggle vs. settler-colonial genocide
As Mahtowin Munro, co-leader of UAINE, stressed in her opening remarks at the rally: “Palestinian resistance to the Zionist state’s genocidal assault is part of the worldwide Indigenous struggle against settler-colonial genocide and for complete national self-determination. It’s no coincidence that support for the Zionist project comes from the other genocidal settler colonies — the so-called U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.”
Jean-Luc Pierite, president of NAICOB, also expressed solidarity with the Palestinian resistance, highlighting the parallels between the U.S.’s ongoing genocide of Indigenous nations and the Zionist settler project.
Pierite denounced President Joe Biden’s recent visit to occupied Palestine, where he hugged his longtime crony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu. Pierite asked: “Where are the open arms for the dying children, the dead babies? Where are the open arms of the United States at this moment? Wrapped around a war criminal.”
“I look out at this beautiful sea of liberation,” declared Steve Kirschbaum, speaking for Labor for Palestine as a 50-year elected officer of Steelworkers Local 8751. “This is our present and our future. This is how Palestine will be free!”
Eli Gerzon described JVP’s Oct. 18 takeover of the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Renouncing the racist ideology of Zionism, Gerzon said, “As Jews we have experienced genocide. We have been forced to flee our homes. Therefore, we are against genocide.”
Other speakers, including Palestinians whose families have been killed and displaced in Gaza, called attention to the destruction of hospitals and the horrific health crisis in Gaza; detailed the pervasive racism, censorship and persecution experienced by supporters of Palestinian liberation; and demanded the U.S. end the tens of billions of dollars in aid and weaponry it gives Israel, its imperialist bridgehead in the Middle East.
Following the rally in Copley Square, the demonstrators, many waving Palestinian flags, took over the streets of Back Bay, determined to march to Boston’s Israeli consulate, housed in the Park Plaza Hotel. Led by Palestine Youth Movement leaders blasting from atop Labor For Palestine’s truck, protesters chanted: “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!”; “Biden, Biden, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide!”; and “We don’t want no two-state. We want ʼ48.”
Arabic chants also filled blocks of Commonwealth Avenue and Newbury Street. For over two hours, Boston’s downtown heard loud and clear, “min el-maiyeh lel mayieh, Falastin Arabiyye.” (From the water to the water, Palestine is Arab.) Aerial footage showed the march stretching back 10 city blocks through Boston’s wealthiest residences and priciest shops and cafes.
In front of the consulate, demonstrators sat down, occupied Park Plaza, and rallied in support of Palestinian liberation and the return of their stolen lands.