Over one thousand people took to the streets outside of the Los Angeles Westwood Federal Building Sunday, December 10, chanting, “No Wall, No Ban, No Embassy on Stolen Land!”, and “From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls have Got to Go,” as the crowd unified in solidarity with Palestine. The demonstration mustered the weekend following Donald Trump’s outrageous
announcement that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, dealing a sucker punch to the “two state” peace process.
People came from all parts of Southern California, including Orange County, Riverside and Oxnard, to defend Palestine and to denounce this week’s announcement by President Trump to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem/Al-Quds.
Organized by Al Awda, the speakers program was emceed by ANSWER/Students for Justice in Palestine-USC organizer, Kameron Hurt, who urged everyone attending to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and demand an immediate end to the $3 billion in aid the U.S. government spends every year to prop up Israeli’s apartheid government.
“The people of Palestine, not Trump, will determine their own national destiny. Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” said Jim Lafferty, of the National Lawyers Guild, drawing the connection to the illegal 1980 Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem.
“The Right of Return,” said Arab American activist, Twafik Mausa,”is our number one demand.” The crowd cheered and broke into the chant, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!”
Shakeel Sayed, of the AMP urged the demonstrators to continue building solidarity with Palestine locally, and for the importance of strengthening unity worldwide. “All of us,” he said, “Will stand together until Palestine is Free!”
Rawan Masri, of USC Students for Justice in Palestine, spoke about the tens of thousands of Palestinian homes already illegally demolished by the Israeli government. She urged support for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians currently residing in Jerusalem and who are now facing expulsion from their city thanks to U.S. government’s decision to back Israel as it attempts seize complete control of Palestine’s capital.
ANSWER Coalition organizer, Melina Rodriguez, reminded the crowd, “One in three refugees around the world today are Palestinian! Both the Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate support Trump’s call to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but in the West Bank and Gaza people are already in the streets to unite and defend Palestine. Our job,” she said, “is to educate
others about supporting BDS and to defend Palestine. When people are occupied, resistance is justified!”
“The root of the problem is occupation!”, said Iyad Alfaqua, of the Arab American Civic Council. He spoke about the state-sponsored violence Palestinian people are confronted with daily. He added, however, in spite of so much hardship and suffering, he was “inspired by the huge number of young people here with us in the streets today! Defend the Right of Return,” he urged the crowd, and “Never forget your roots. The struggle for Palestine continues beyond today.”
Karen Pomer from Jews for the Palestinian Right of Return and LA 4 Palestine quoted her grandfather, Henry, a leader of an anti-Zionist movement dating back before the Balfour Agreement, who said “We [the Jewish people] should not replace the people of Palestine.” She added, “With 7 million displaced Palestinians worldwide, it’s clear that Zionism is racism. None of us are free”, she said, “until we’re all free!”
“Israel has no right to occupy Jerusalem!,” said Estee Chandler, speaking on behalf of Jewish Voices for Peace. “We oppose the U.S. announcement to move the U.S. embassy to Palestine, we oppose the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Palestinian land; we oppose the Israeli government’s policies of demolishing Palestinian homes; we oppose the Israeli ‘separation wall’ and Israeli settlers violently destroying the property of Palestinians!” She told the crowd that grew steadily over the three and half hour demonstration, “Tell Trump: ‘No White Supremacy in the U.S. and No Jewish Supremacy in Jerusalem!”
Husan Ayloush, from Council for American Islamic Relations, praised the diversity as well as the international support for Palestine. “In cities around the world,” he said, “millions of people are in the streets protesting in support of Palestine and against Trump’s decision. The Palestinian struggle inspires the world! We care about freedom, justice and peace. As people in the U.S., we are responsible to say, ‘NO!’ to Trump, and to remind people that he does not
speak for us. But our struggle does not begin and end in Palestine,” he said. “Our struggle includes telling the world, ‘Trump does not speak for us, we stand with the Palestinian people!’ Trump is targets: women, African Americans, people of color, Muslims, Native Americans, Latinos, refugees, and the all those struggling for freedom. Continue to be on the street,” he said.
That message of international solidarity and strength carried the protest through several hours of chanting and standing in an unseasonably hot Los Angeles day. That same message will keep the people in movement until Palestine is free. Long live Palestine!