by Jonathan Adams and David Goodman – Open Media Boston
BOSTON/State House – A large rally in Boston on Tuesday continued protests against the Israeli invasion of the Palestinian Territories that began earlier this month, and has reportedly claimed the lives of hundreds, including dozens of Palestinian civilians.
Over 2,000 people joined a rally at Copley Sq. and a march to the State House organized by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and a number of other peace and social justice groups, which was the sixth and largest demonstration in Boston condemning the invasion in the past two weeks.
Speaking at the rally, Karlene Griffiths, a pastor with the United Church of Christ said “we are here in front of the Mass. State House to speak in many voices as US residents to oppose our money’s, our votes’, our representatives’ support for the siege on Gaza.
“The deaths of more than 500, including children, is unconscionable, and it is paid for with our tax dollars, and we say ‘no more,’ it will not be justified by politics, by exceptionalism, or by the media,” she continued.
According to a statement by JVP, the rally was held in “solidarity with the Palestinian people and to demand an end to unconditional U.S. aid to Israel, an end to the siege of Gaza, and an end to the occupation.”
The statement claims that “the toll ha reached 500 people killed and more than 3000 wounded, while over 135,000 have been displaced from their homes. U.S. lawmakers at every level of government must take a stand against this violence, funded by U.S. taxpayers.”
Cathy Hoffman, former director of the Cambridge Peace Commission, told Open Media Boston at the rally that “to not take sides, in a certain way, is to support a status quo, which is occupation, which is annihilation of the people in the West Bank and Gaza, at this point our government has taken a unilateral stand on the side of Israel, supporting money that is paying for these guns which killing children.
“I think those who don’t want to take sides against Israel or for Palestine, I think they can still call for an end to military aid supporting these weapons,” she continued.
The rally was also countered by a pro-Israeli rally organized through social media, attended by around 400 demonstrators, and dubbed as an ‘anti-Hamas’ demonstration.
Sherry from Newton, Mass., who did not provide her last name, told Open Media Boston that “we’re pro-Israel, and we feel as if Israel is doing all that it can, Israel tries to protect its citizens as much as possible, and they even put their own soldiers at risk in order to try and not hit civilians, that’s why there’s a ground war now, and our soldiers are getting killed.
“I think the people of Boston can understand terrorism, because we experienced that last year with the Boston Marathon, so with what Israel is experiencing is very similar except their experiencing on a daily level, tons and tons of rockets every day at civilians,” she continued.
Speaking in support of the rally, Sofia Arias from the International Socialist Organization claimed that “people do not know that 47 percent of Gaza’s population is under the age of 14, over 50 percent is under the age of 19, so when Israel says ‘we don’t mean to kill children,’ an average of ten children are massacred every single day, women, and men, and disabled people, in schools, and hospitals, and homes, United Nation camps … this is completely and absolutely genocide.”
After the rally reached the State House two dozen demonstrators dressed in black clothing laid down in Beacon Street wearing signs taped to their chests with the names of Palestinians killed as part of what they called a “die-in.”
Boston police closed off Beacon Street and diverted traffic, and for more than an hour, the participants and hundreds of supporters waited for police to make arrests.
Though prisoner transport vans were driven closer to the circle of die-in participants several times throughout the evening, no arrests were made.
After a discussion between the activists and rally organizers, a consensus was reached to read the names of Palestinians killed during the recent conflict before dispersing.
Arabic speaking supporters were asked to read a list of the names and ages of the dead causing many of the demonstrators to break down in tears.
The rally lasted around five hours, and did not leave from in front of the State House until approximately 10pm.
The Consulate General of Israel to New England did not respond to a request for a statement before the filing of this report.