More than a thousand people rallied and marched through the streets of San Francisco December 9 in solidarity with Palestine and the struggle for self-determination, all in the wake of Trump’s bald declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Chants echoed throughout Civic Center: “There is only one solution: intifada, revolution!” and “Netanyahu you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!”
The rally and march was organized by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and cosponsored by many other groups.
Sara, a Palestinian-American from Bethlehem, said that Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel means an end to the two-state solution.
“We have come a long way, though in 2017 [Palestinian] are still under siege and under occupation.” She noted the importance that news has played in reaching people and building international solidarity: “A lot of people are realizing what’s really going on, and they’re getting enraged.”
“Palestine is in my blood,” she said, and explained how during her recent trip to Palestine she witnessed parents teaching their children how to stay safe and away from the occupying Israel Defense Force soldiers. “They will take children and imprison them. Their methods are intimidation,” she said, “and it’s heartbreaking that for a young child this is even a possibility.”
Indeed, Israel routinely imprisons children for accusations of throwing rocks at military-grade tanks, waving the Palestinian flag, or even posting pro-Palestine writings on social media. The practice was even codified in a 2016 Israeli law that allows the government to hold children as young as 12 in prison for “terrorist offenses.”
Marchers also chanted in Arabic: “Israel will fall; Long live Palestine!”
During the march, Ramah Allad from the Bay Area Chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement, spoke on the historical connections of colonialism through the present day. “Another white man is signing documents of our land and displacing our people,” she said. “One hundred years have passed between Balfour and Trump, and Western powers are still deciding our fate.”
“Hands off Jerusalem!” the crowd chanted in reply.
Allad continued: “Jerusalem is not just a fight for indigenous Palestinians. Jerusalem is a fight for all humanity and oppressed peoples, from Oakland to South Africa. Jerusalem is rightfully the Palestinians. Jerusalem is ours!”
Many other people around the world were also demonstrating on the same day. Allad said, “We stand in solidarity with the thousands marching in New York, Chicago, London. With the thousands of Palestinians demonstrating in the West Bank and Gaza. We uplift those punished for exercising their self-determination.”
Allad pointed to continued U.S. enabling of the occupation: “We know all too well that Trump’s decision isn’t new. It is yet another decision geared towards the racist, Islamaphobic and Zionist policy towards Palestine.”
The future, Allad said, is one of international solidarity and resistance. “We are angry, and from this anger we will commit ourselves, our community and our future generations to come out. Every time Israel takes another inch of Palestinian land, we take to our streets, with our peoples and allies side by side, towards the collective goal of liberation.”
“A house demolished in East Jerusalem is our house. A family displaced is our family. We are Palestine, and Palestine is us.”
Widely denounced throughout the world and in gross violation of international law, Trump’s act “was made with the full support of the Democratic and Republican leadership in the Senate and Congress,” said Richard Becker, organizer with the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, one of the co-sponsors of the event.
Yusra, a youth coordinator at AROC and board member of the General Union of Palestinian Students, stated that the people stand firmly against Trump’s decision. “Jerusalem, Al-Quds is Palestinian!”
And as Fatima Harp, a local Palestinian student, said, the rally and protest are universal: “You don’t have to be Palestinian or Muslim to understand genocide and ethnic cleansing. You just have to be human.”
People of all ages and ethnicities were in attendance at the march, including many young people. The youth movement, Harp explains, is progressing, and this is necessary. “Our ancestors have done more than enough, and have been pushed out [of Palestine]. It’s time for the youth to step up.”
“We won’t be silenced,” said another demonstrator, Sundus Elqadi, “We’re Palestinian; we’ll be here forever. We need to all stand up together, and stand united for the children of Palestine.”
Palestinian-American artist Chris Gazaleh stated that the borders drawn throughout the Middle East were artificial: “There were no lines until people drew fake lines.” The Palestinian people are the strongest people, Gazaleh said. “The spirit of the Palestinian people is strong. It will never die down.”
AROC organizer Sharif Zakout explained in a poem about the Palestinian struggle and the connections to the international struggle:
“Then they tried to hide the proof / Looks like 1492,
Different time, different place / Same white supremacist rule
We gotta mobilize, we gotta organize / And if one dies then another ten will rise
We’ll replant every tree / Rebuild every home,
And until we see that day our resistance lives on.”