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High energy protest for Palestine on Chicago streets

“Netanyahu, you will learn. By the millions we’ll return!”
By staff |
May 12, 2018
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Nakba protest in Chicago
Nakba protest in Chicago (Photo by Sarah Ji)

Chicago, IL - On Friday evening, May 11, 500 Palestinians and their supporters marched on the Israeli consulate in Chicago. For the consulate staff, no chant could have unnerved them more than, “Netanyahu, you will learn. By the millions we’ll return!”

When the protesters rallied earlier that afternoon, they were greeted by Hatem Abudayyeh of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network. Speaking on behalf of the sponsor of the protest, the Coalition for Justice in Palestine, he said, “May 15 marks 70 years since Al Nakba, the Catastrophe, when the settler, colonial state of Israel was formed, and when almost 800,000 Palestinians were forced into exile.” He also said, “Tonight we are calling for our Right of Return, but we are also here to condemn the Israeli attacks on the Great Return March in Gaza. Already 53 Palestinians have been killed and over 8500 injured. The Israelis have fired live bullets and teargas into massive crowds of unarmed protesters.”

The right of refugees to return has been denied by the racist state of Israel and its main backer, U.S. imperialism, since 1948. During Al Nakba, Zionist armies also took the lives of 13,000 Palestinians. The anniversary is being met with a level of sustained mass resistance not seen since the Second Intifada, or uprising, which ended in 2005. Since March 30, the anniversary called Land Day in Palestine, tens of thousands of people from Gaza have taken part in the Great Return March.

When Jazmine Salas of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression stood before the crowd, she called out, “From Chicago to Palestine, occupation is a crime!”

In describing this, she talked about the Chicago Police Department, “We know that CPD is an occupier of our communities - they harass and racially profile Black and brown youth, commit violence and shoot innocent folks with impunity, just like the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces].

“The Palestinian liberation struggle is linked with the Black liberation struggle and the struggle for the liberation of all oppressed nations. That’s why we stand with the Palestinian community - that’s why we stood with Rasmea Odeh during her trial. We are committed to fighting shoulder to shoulder until Palestine is free.”

The earlier rally also included remarks by Dick Reilly, longtime leader of the movement in solidarity with Palestine in the U.S., and former director of the Palestine Solidarity Committee from the late 1970s to the 1990s. Reilly reminded people, “40 years ago, we used to raise a chant about the long-term struggle to free Palestine: ‘Generation after generation, until total liberation!’” The rally roared back its approval of this memory, the reality of which could be seen in the faces looking at Reilly, some from the generation of the 70s, but mostly youth, including many from Students for Justice in Palestine.

The staff in the Israeli consulate have good reason to be concerned about the protest, because on May 15, hundreds of thousands are expected to protest in all of occupied Palestine, and in hundreds of cities across the world. They are also rallying to oppose the Trump administration moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem on that same day, a move which is opposed by virtually every other country in the United Nations, showing clearly the isolation faced by the apartheid state of Israel, and the growing support for the just cause of the Palestinians.

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