Many towns and campuses have hosted protests against Israel’s attacks on Gaza since October 8. Following is a roundup of a few of the protests which MAPA members attended. (Edited by Kathie Malley-Morrison)
Sunday afternoon, October 22, thousands of people gathered in Boston’s Copley Square to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, an end to the genocide, apartheid, and occupation of Palestinians and an end to military aid from the United States to Israel. This rally was sponsored by over thirty local organizations, convened by the Palestinian House of New England and Palestine Yourth Movement, and including MAPA. The organizers seemed to be primarily young women but the crowd was very diverse–primarily young, but including people ranging from 2 months to 90 years, and representing many racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Coming together in such a large group energized everyone. The chanting of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, “The people, united, will never be defeated” – plus many more chants – could be heard loud and clear across great distances.
Jean-Luc Pierite of the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB) drew the parallels between Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the settlers’ treatment of the Native Americans here in this country. An Imam from Roxbury talked about the experiences of people in Gaza, how they have been suffering under occupation, and how we can assist them. A member of Jewish Voice for Peace declared firmly that Zionism is NOT Judaism and that this is not a religious war but is a war of a powerful state against a small, confined population. At one point the MC of the event said, “I see a lot of Israeli flags toward the back, and I want to thank you for coming to this rally and showing your support for us.”
At 4:00 we began our march on Newbury and Hereford Streets, Commonwealth Ave., and Arlington St. to Park Square, where there was a short sit-in in front of the Israeli Consulate. There was energetic chanting all the way. Many people out for a Sunday afternoon on Newbury St. waved and showed their support for the inspirational rally. – Jeanne Trubek
Over 100 people gathered in Salem Thursday, October 19, to express their grief and horror at the ongoing violence in Gaza. Many people with Middle Eastern ancestry were present as were Black Lives Matter folks. Most of the signs said Free Palestine and Ceasefire, and the air filled with chants of Free Palestine; End apartheid. Several participants broke off from the crowd, striding with their banners and resolutions to the office of Seth Moulton, U.S. Congressman from the MA sixth district, undeterred by a few pro-Israeli hecklers along the way. – Sunny Robinson
Students at Northeastern University, led by the newly formed “Huskies for a Free Palestine” coalition, organized an on-campus demonstration Friday, October 20. The rally’s speakers, who chose to remain anonymous due to doxxing concerns, demanded that the university sever its financial ties with weapons manufacturing companies like Raytheon, who are supplying Israel with weaponry it is using to attack Gaza. Speakers also condemned Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, stressing that bigotry in all its ugly forms is unacceptable. Following the speakers’ comments, a few hundred students marched across campus chanting slogans, proudly waving Palestinian flags, and displaying homemade signs featuring pro-Palestinian, pro-peace messages. – Graham Aiken
On Tuesday, Oct. 9, MAPA initiated a Rally for Palestinian Rights and Sovereignty which drew 50 people to downtown Northampton. – Merri Ansara
On Thursday, October 12, members and supporters of the Demilitarize Western Mass collective created a blockade at 50 Prince Street, Northampton, in front of L3Harris, the local subsidiary of the weapons giant which is the ninth largest weapons manufacturer in the world. Protesters locked themselves to a large boat and three trailers, preventing cars from entering either of the driveways to L3Harris. Zehra Parvez, one of those risking arrest, and a longtime supporter of Palestinian and Saudi Arabian rights, noted thatLL3Harris profits from sales for tanks and bombs used by the Israeli Defense Force to kill thousands of civilians in Gaza. Paki Wieland, also risking arrest, reminded listeners: “The desperate situation we face must be named and changed, so we can have a just and peaceful world. L3Harris, one of the merchants of war, has no place in our backyard. We must do whatever we can to change this economy based upon war and suffering.” — Nick Mottern and Jeff Napolitano
A week later, on October 19, hundreds of Smith College students led a march and rally for Palestine and Gaza involving students and their supporters. Palestinian students made a short and impressive speeches. The Raging Grannies “It’s a Sad World”, “The Children of War”, and “The Gaza Strip”, with everyone signing along. The march then crossed the street to the Admin Building where the students read off a list of demands, including: give Palestinians scholarships; end the Smith study abroad program in Israel; and divest from Raytheon and L3Harris. It was a moving and important and powerful event. – Merri Ansara