On May 23, hundreds gathered in Garden City, Long Island, New York for a day of action in support of the Palestinian people, organized by a broad coalition, including ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, Muslims for Progress, Warriors of the Sunrise, Long Island Black Alliance, Al Quds Committee of New York, Together We Will Long Island, Young Long Island for Justice, and Nassau NOW (National Organization for Women).
The day of solidarity took place just two days after a ceasefire temporarily halted Israeli aerial bombardments on the besieged Gaza Strip. Over 250 people were killed by Israel’s airstrikes in 11 days, including 66 children, and 2,000 were wounded.
Crucial infrastructure was destroyed or damaged in the bombardment. Gaza was already struggling with severely underdeveloped infrastructure due to a 14-year-long Israeli blockade preventing Gaza from importing desperately needed supplies and materials.
The military equipment used by Israel in these airstrikes, and for the maintenance of the blockade of Gaza, is funded by the U.S. to the tune of $3.8 billion a year. “We know the United States gives the most funding to Israel to carry out these crimes against humanity,” noted Noura Farouq, a Palestinian organizer.
‘We cannot allow our taxpayer money to fund genocide’
A key demand of the day of action was that the U.S. government end its military aid to Israel. “As United States citizens we cannot allow our taxpayer money to be used to fund genocide,” said Tela Trogue of the Shinnecock Nation, the Indigenous nation of eastern Long Island.
Eden, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation likewise asserted, “It’s not that Biden or the U.S. are being passive, or neutral, or peaceful. The U.S. is the largest funder of the Israeli military which makes this current administration complicit and responsible for the violence and bloodshed taking place in Palestine.”
The day’s actions included a rally at the offices of Representative Kathleen Rice, a Democrat who represents New York’s 4th congressional district. Rice, like countless Democrats, has made her disregard of Palestinian lives abundantly clear. While Israeli bombs wiped out entire families in Gaza, Rice stated on Twitter, “The U.S. stands with our ally Israel,” and condemned Hamas’ defensive missile vollies.
Shaykh Ibad Wali, Executive Director and Resident Scholar of the Hillside Islamic Center asked of Rice, “Why are you not tweeting about the bombs on hospitals, schools, residential areas in Palestine? If this is not racism, then what is it? If this is not bigotry, then what is it? If this is not apartheid, what is it?”
“President Biden and Congresswoman Rice, who have affirmed Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ — have you ever affirmed the Palestinian right to defend themselves and live free?” asked Maysoun Ahmed, a Palestinian-American activist. “Palestinians have the right to defend themselves and will be free!”
Solidarity from the U.S. to Palestine
Speakers also linked the struggle of Palestinians to the struggle against settler colonialism in the U.S. and imperialism abroad.
“Palestine isn’t just an issue for Palestinians, but an issue for all people who stand with the oppressed against oppression,” said Farouq. “All oppression is connected, just as our freedoms are connected.”
Trogue pointed to the unique solidarity that exists between the Indigenous peoples of America and the Palestinian people. “We’re the Indigneous people of eastern Long Island. We’re here today in solidarity because we know what it’s like to be the victims of violent settler colonialism,” she said.
Rachel Hu, an organizer with the ANSWER coalition explained, “I am Southeast Asian. My family is only in America because they bombed our country, they killed our families, and they made us come here. So my heart, my everything goes to the people of Palestine, because I know what it’s like to be a refugee. I know what it’s like to have the U.S. and imperialist forces take so much from us.”
Other speakers linked the oppression of Palestinians to police brutality against Black people in the U.S.. “The Israeli military trains U.S. police in racist and repressive tactics, such as racial profiling, surveillance of the masses, and police brutality,” said Eden. “This is why the struggle in Palestine and the fight for Black lives are intrinsically tied.”
But if there is an inherent connection between Israeli and American settler colonialism, imperialism, and state brutality, there is an even greater connection binding people together in resistance, according to this speaker.
“The Palestinian people have played a vital role in supporting and aiding the struggle against police violence against Black lives,” Eden emphasized. “In the wake of Michael Brown and George Floyd’s murders, Palestinian people were vital in not just organizing and supporting, but they advised…us how to combat tear gas, rubber bullets, and [taught us] street tactics. Because they were already well-versed at experiencing this type of warfare…The fight for liberation, across the globe, of oppressed people are connected. Nothing that is happening abroad is separate from the oppression and violence and subjugation that we are experiencing right here.”