St. Paul, MN - More than 100 rallied here Nov. 16 to protest Israel’s attack on Gaza, which has been escalating since it began two days earlier. Protesters lined one of the busiest intersections in Saint Paul, at Summit and Snelling Avenues. The carried Palestinian flags and banners and signs in solidarity with Palestine and in opposition to U.S. support for Israel.
Initiated by the Anti-War Committee, the Saint Paul protest joined the international outcry, as hundreds of cities across the globe hold similar actions. During the rally, a report came in of the bombing of Rafah and the Palestinian death toll rising. Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes this week.
Meredith Aby, who traveled to Gaza and the West Bank in 2002, and is one of the international solidarity activists targeted by the FBI for her work, opened the rally saying, “We are joining our voices with the people of the world to denounce the brutal attack on Gaza by Israel. We demand an end to U.S. aid to Israel, because our tax dollars are subsidizing this bloodshed. Our hearts go out to Palestinian families that have lost children in the Israeli military’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, one of the world’s most densely populated places. We are outraged by this cruelty.”
Liza Burr, speaking for the WAMM Middle East Committee, criticized Israel, “Contrary to its PR message, likely believed only in the U.S., Israel is not defending itself against Hamas rockets, which would not be fired without severe provocation - the occupation and siege provide plenty of provocation - since Hamas is well aware that it is no match militarily for Israel. Both in November of 2008 and in November of 2012, the sequence of events indicates that a ceasefire or truce was broken by Israel, not by Hamas.”
Another speaker, Florence Steichen of Middle East Peace Now, emphasized the responsibility of the U.S. for Israel’s actions. “The U.S. funds the occupation and Israel’s military adventures with more than $3 billion per year of taxpayer money. They could not do it without our money and our government’s unconditional diplomatic support of Israel. This diplomatic protection shields Israel from the effects of UN resolutions, and gives Israel a sense of invincibility, invulnerability. They know they can get away with anything, any atrocity without consequences because the United States protects Israel from the international community.”
Tracy Molm, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, spoke of the efforts of the U.S. government to silence those who oppose U.S. policy in the Middle East. She traveled to Palestine in 2005 and is also being targeted by the FBI and grand jury investigation of anti-war and international solidarity activists. In her remarks, she urged protesters to extend their support for Gaza to the Holy Land Five, unjustly imprisoned for their work to bring medical and other humanitarian aid to Palestine.
The rally included speakers from the Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign and the Coalition for Palestinian Rights. After nearly two hours, the protest closed with a spirited spoken word performance by 16-year old Iraqi-American activist Zaghloool, who wrote a poem for Gaza. All those gathered pledged their continuing support, chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”