Nakba Day – The struggle continues for a free Palestine

Brooklyn, New York

People all over the world demonstrated during the week of May 12 — 19 to commemorate the 76th anniversary of Nakba (“the Catastrophe”), the day on May 15, 1948, when the new Zionist state of Israel culminated its brutal removal of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their lands.

Nakba commemoration, Brooklyn, New York, May 18, 2024.  WW Photo: Brenda Ryan

Thousands of people rallied on May 18 in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. A massive force of cops lined up in front of demonstrators on each side of the street wearing helmets and carrying plastic wrist ties.

Nerdeen Kiswani, one of the organizers of the event from Within Our Lifetime, led a chant: “Why are you in riot gear? There is no riot here.” She noted that a Nakba protest has been held in the heart of the Palestinian community in Bay Ridge for the last 10 years and this was the first time the cops stopped people from gathering on the street.

Protesters peacefully marched down Fifth Avenue and side streets. Then cops suddenly brutally attacked individuals, throwing them to the ground with three or more cops straddling each person, punching them, and handcuffing them. Blood streamed down the face of one protester. Cops have repeatedly brutalized those protesting the genocide in Gaza at university encampments and on marches through city streets.

Kiswani wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “It is agonizing to repeatedly witness NYPD brutalize my friends and the most kind-hearted people dedicating their life to fighting against the genocide of my people. Waiting hours and days to know if they are okay. Illegal arrests for cases that get dismissed. They just enjoy beating us.”

Despite a steady drizzle throughout the action, several hundred demonstrators gathered at Philadelphia’s City Hall in the late afternoon on May 18 for a commemoration of the 76th anniversary of the Nakba. Colorful banners — depicting the economic contributions of several Palestinian cities taken over by the Israelis in 1948 — were visible throughout the crowd.

The 76th anniversary of Nakba observed with a militant march in Philadelphia, May 18, 2024.  Photo: Cindy Lu

The rally, organized by the Philadelphia Palestine Coalition, included contingents from Philadelphia AnakBayan, Korea Peace Now, and workers marching behind a banner that read: “Workers United for Palestine.”

Nakba protest changes route to march west to Drexel University. Here, with Center City in the background. May 18, 2024.  Photo: Bina

The march that followed detoured from its original planned route along the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and instead marched into West Philadelphia to within a block of Drexel University. Following a short rally, demonstrators surged past police cars and bicycles, and marched to join the Freedom School for Palestine being created at the Gaza solidarity encampment at Drexel. Despite a heavy police presence in the area, the encampment has survived two nights.

In Cleveland, a number of Case Western Reserve University students are facing academic discipline, including withholding diplomas for graduating seniors, for participating in the Palestine Solidarity Encampment on campus. Not intimidated, students and pro-Palestine community activists organized a “Peoples Commencement” on May 19 at the former site of the encampment.

Cleveland ‘Peoples Commencement,’ May 19, 2024. WW Photo: Susan Schnur

Supporters of Palestinian liberation also held a rally and march on May 15 — Nakba Day.

Portland, Oregon, Nakba commemoration, May 18, 2024.  WW Photo: Lyn Neeley

On May 18, the Portland, Oregon, branch of Workers World joined hundreds of Palestinians, workers, students, activists, and other members of the community to commemorate Nakba Day, a solemn day of remembrance for all the victims of the fascist apartheid state of Israel. Organizers gave speeches, sang songs, and took to the streets to march in support of Palestinian liberation. The coalition that organized the protest included groups as diverse as other Marxist-Leninists, student groups from the local universities, healthcare workers, union organizers, teachers and more.

Martha Grevatt, Betsey Piette and Evan Reif contributed to this article.

 

Brenda Ryan

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Brenda Ryan

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