May 15 saw a historic turnout for Palestine in Raleigh, NC, as thousands of protestors gathered at Moore Square in Raleigh, North Carolina to stand with Palestine amidst the Israeli state’s bombing of Gaza. In recent memory, this was the largest solidarity demonstration for Palestine in the state of North Carolina.
The protest was organized by the ANSWER Coalition, Muslims for Social Justice and Wake County Black Student Coalition and was endorsed by dozens of organizations. People of various religions and nationalities came out to march for Palestine and condemn Israeli apartheid and occupation.
Remarking on the event, one of the central organizers, Dana Al-Hasan said to Liberation News, “Triangle, North Carolina, came out in the thousands to support [the Palestinian] people and say no to the ongoing Nakba and Israeli colonization. And we’ll continue coming out until we are free!”
Additionally, in Atlanta, Ga., over 3,000 people poured into the streets for Palestine that same weekend. In Florida, both Tampa and Miami saw hundreds of protestors in the streets. New Orleans, La., too turned out for Palestine in the hundreds. Solidarity protest were held in Birmingham, Ala., and Columbia, S.C., as well. The Palestinian diaspora in southern cities took the streets in large numbers.
Across the country and the world, there is a renewal in popular support for the Palestinian national liberation struggle. Despite intense witch-hunts in the corporate media and academia over the years targeting pro-Palestine commentators and activists, the movement for Palestine has gained momentum.
The coordinated effort by the ruling class to dismantle the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign and to silence the Palestinians is failing.
The unity and strength of the resistance within occupied Palestine itself against the recent Israeli onslaught and escalation is a significant factor. The work of the anti-imperialist wing of the antiwar movement within the United States in highlighting the Palestinian struggle over the past two decades is an important consideration too.
This historic turnout for Palestine this past week in cities in the Southeast is also the influence of the nationwide 2020 summer rebellion against police brutality and racism that brought tens of millions of people into the streets. The Deep South too saw protests against white supremacy in its major cities, as well as in some of its smallest towns.
At the Palestine rally in Raleigh, several speakers connected the struggles in Palestine against occupation and apartheid and in Colombia against the terror of the oppressive regime of Ivan Duque, to local and national anti-racism efforts.
In 2018, local activists successfully ended the exchange and training programs between apartheid Israel and the Durham Police Department. The similarities between the treatment of Palestinians in Israel and Black people in the United States at the hands of police was noted. The need to replicate the successful grassroots campaign in Raleigh was emphasized.
Like occupied Palestine, the United States too has its own history of colonialism, genocide, slavery, Jim Crow and apartheid. More and more people in the United States are beginning to draw the connections between their own history and the struggle of the Palestinian people.
Additionally, there is increased consciousness around the fact that the lifeline for Israeli apartheid is the U.S. government’s unbending support and billions in aid.
In addition to calling for the need to continue to build mass public opposition, speakers at the Raleigh demonstration also included calls for the community to reach out to their elected representatives to demand an end to the billions of dollars of annual U.S. aid and military equipment sent to apartheid Israel.
In recent years, the Southeast has seen antiwar demonstrations for Venezuela and Iran. Demonstrations across the country in response to the anti-Asian massacre in Atlanta in March of this year drew the connection between anti-Asian violence and China-bashing.
The shift in the political climate in the United States, with growing interest in socialism and radical politics, has also meant a growth in mass consciousness around U.S. imperialism and anti-imperialism — and the Southeast too is experiencing this.
At the protests for Palestine, there is widespread recognition that justice would not be achieved until the occupation of Palestine ended, until Palestinians saw their right to self-determination and the right of return realized. Protestors in the South have demonstrated the importance of solidarity between local and international struggles against racism and imperialism.