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MN demands ‘End aid to Israel’ during the DNC

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
August 23, 2020
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Minneapolis protest against the U.S backed occupation of Palestine.
Minneapolis protest against the U.S backed occupation of Palestine. (photo credit: Brad Sigal)

Minneapolis, MN - On August 20, activists held banners from five bridges along Interstate 35W to highlight the role the U.S. plays in endorsing and funding the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The protest took place during the Democratic National Convention to draw attention to the need for the Democratic Party to break with the apartheid state of Israel.

Drivers saw banners on the 35th, 36th, 38th and 40th Street bridges on I-35W in South Minneapolis and on a bridge in Lakeville over I-35. The protest was initiated by the MN Anti-War Committee. Many groups signed on and helped make banners and organized their members to protest on bridges, including American Muslims for Palestine (AMP-MN), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), Northfielders for Justice in Palestine/Israel, and Women Against Military Madness.

During the DNC, Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, has gone out of his way to pledge his support for Israel, denouncing the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and attack leaders in the BDS movement like Linda Sarsour.

The news website Mondoweiss reported this week that Daniel Shapiro, President Obama’s former ambassador to Israel, is a member of the platform committee and blocked language about cutting or even conditioning aid to Israel over human rights violations, and about the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Every night during the DNC proceedings, Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza, the world’s largest open air prison, and the Biden campaign was silent on these atrocities.

Andrew Josefchak, a new member of the Anti-War Committee, explained the significance of the action during the DNC, saying, “Right now we’re seeing a sea change in the opinions of the Democratic party’s base when it comes to Palestine. Here in Minnesota, Representative Ilhan Omar recently defeated a very well-financed opponent despite the political establishment, and much of the media, attempting to portray her as an anti-Semite for having said that U.S. support for Israel has to end. Additionally, Representative Betty McCollum just introduced the Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act, saying, ‘I reject Israeli annexation. And I will work to ensure the U.S. does not...legitimize any plan to annex Palestinian lands.’ We’re holding this event to show the growing momentum in the movement to end U.S. aid to Israel. Now more than ever people are demanding money for human needs, not for war.”

Activists were cheered on by honks, raised fists and waves while they waved Palestinian flags and held banners that read “Free Palestine,” “End aid to Israel” and “Free, free Palestine. This wall will fall.”

The MN Anti-War Committee’s next Palestine solidarity action will be to mark the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila Massacre and also to draw attention to the situation in Lebanon. It will be another banner drop, from the Loring Park footbridge over I-94 at 5 p.m. on September 17.

On September 16-18, 1982, pro-Israel militiamen associated with the Lebanese Phalanges (Kataeb Party) murdered over 1000 Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. The massacre was carried out at the orders of the invading Israeli Defense Forces, which had besieged the neighborhood before the attacks.

This past August 4, a massive explosion in Beirut, reportedly caused by ignition of an impounded shipment of ammonium nitrate, killed at least 180 and destroyed important Lebanese national infrastructure. Lebanon’s economy and pandemic response already had been struggling under U.S. sanctions, imposed in June as punishment for the growing effectiveness of the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah against Israeli intrusions. On August 12, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration was preparing even more sanctions on Lebanon.

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