On March 20, people from all walks of life, nationalities, genders and ages joined together with the ANSWER Coalition and Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition to demand justice for Palestine and speak out against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC is the largest Zionist lobbying organization and donates millions of dollars every year to politicians from both ruling class parties.
Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and other presidential candidates declared their support for the racist Israeli regime at the event, but they could not do so without being confronted by the growing movement in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
The action began with a rally outside the White House, where busloads of protesters from across the East Coast and Midwest joined the demonstration.
A number of organizers from a variety of groups spoke out in front of the White House. Abbas Hamideh, a lead organizer with Al-Awda, said: “We are here to stand for justice in Palestine. For liberation in Palestine!”
Miko Peled, an Israeli army veteran, said: “If you look at the UN’s definition of genocide, and you compare it to what the state of Israel does, it is identical! AIPAC is the perfect place for Donald Trump. It’s an organization that promotes racism, it’s an organization that promotes violence, it’s an organization that promotes genocide in Palestine.”
The protesters then marched through downtown Washington, D.C., to the Convention Center, where the AIPAC gathering was held. Lining up along the entire length of the main entrance, the marchers chanted “shut it down” and denounced Israel’s crimes in the faces of some of the most powerful supporters of its racist government.
Liberation News interviewed a working class family who traveled all the way from Illinois to take part in the march. Chad Simpson and Jamie Simpson were very firm about their allegiance with Palestine. We asked them why they came to DC. “Protesting illegal occupation of Palestine by the Israelis and our constant pandering to the Israelis. I’m angry about my tax dollars going to kill children,” said Chad. “To do what’s right, justice,” said Jamie.
Despite police efforts to move the demonstration away from the convention center, protesters held their ground and unfurled a giant Palestinian flag.
A Palestinian protester holding the giant flag handed out BDS movement stickers, which featured “Occupation Facts”, such as the number of Palestinians expelled by Israel since 1948 (over 800,000), the number of Israeli-controlled checkpoints in the West Bank (over 520), Palestinians imprisoned by Israel since 1967 (over 700,000) and Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel since 2000 (7,000). The protester, who asked to remain unnamed, said: “I want to go back home to Palestine. But it’s nearly impossible to get back, from anywhere in the world. Israel will do anything it can to stop people trying to go back.”
Cassandra Cuddy, a feminist organizer from New Haven, told Liberation News: “I am here because I don’t believe [the United States] should be supporting genocide. It’s that simple.”
Norman Clement, an Indigenous organizer, said: “I’m here supporting Palestine because I feel that what’s happening in Palestine is the same as what happened to Indigenous people here in this country. Seeing as I am a Native American, I see no difference between what Israel is doing and what the colonial government did here in the United States… It’s the same murder, genocide. Apartheid walls are the same as reservations. What’s happening in Palestine is the closest to what happened to us anywhere in the world. Of course I would be out here standing against the genocide of the Palestinian people — before they’re all gone, like they’re trying to do to us. We need to support them, get Israel out of Palestine.”
The police, as usual, protected the Zionists. TeleSur journalist Mike Prysner was violently assaulted from behind by an AIPAC attendee, and then attacked by police as the attendee was escorted safely back into the convention center. In a statement after the attack, Prysner said, “The police always have their backs to the pro-Israel side, and their batons to the pro-Palestine side.”
Despite the glaring proof that the U.S. government and police are firmly planted on the wrong side of history, the March 20 action showed the most powerful force possible: unity among people of all backgrounds in a militant demand for freedom for Palestine and an end to Zionist genocide. The U.S. government may be complicit in Israel’s terror, but the people of the United States have shown yet again that they will not remain silent while Palestine is under attack.