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Minneapolis calls for an end to aid to Israel, remembers Sabra and Shatila

By Austin Dewey and Kent Mori |
September 23, 2020
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Wyatt Miller of the Anti War Committee speaking to the protesters.
Wyatt Miller of the Anti War Committee speaking to the protesters. (Photo by Misty Rowan)

Minneapolis, MN - On September 17, over 30 activists in Minneapolis bannered across Interstate 94 during rush hour to remember the Sabra and Shatila massacre and highlight the destructive role the U.S. plays in Lebanon. They waved Palestinian flags and dropped banners across eight lanes of traffic demanding an end to aid in Israel, demanding an end to apartheid, and expressing solidarity against state violence. The response from people passing by was overwhelmingly positive with a constant stream of honks from cars.

From September 16 to 18, 1982, pro-Israel militiamen murdered more than 1000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians living in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon. The massacre was carried out at the orders of the invading Israeli army, which had surrounded and besieged the neighborhoods in the days leading up to the attacks.

This action was especially important as different Arab governments seek to normalize relations with Israel, which has historically led to a rapid increase in violence from the Israeli government against Palestinians.

Mariam El-Khatib from American Muslims for Palestine told the crowd, “Yes, we’re here to remember the Sabra and Shatila massacre that happened 38 years ago, but it is more than just about the Sabra and Shatila massacre, we’re here to remember that they were more than just the victims of Israeli aggression. They were the victims of the Nakba, the victims of the occupation, the wall and other attacks.” She continued, “This peace deal has been framed as something that benefits the Palestinians, but I’m not sure how they get to decide that when the Palestinians weren’t even at the table.”

Sarah Martin from Women Against Military Madness spoke passionately against the so-called peace deal as well. “Of course, the accord has nothing to do with ending the brutal Israeli military occupation of Palestine, the horrific siege of Gaza, ending the apartheid state, or stopping the systemic expansion of illegal settlements and certainly not guaranteeing the right of return. It doesn’t even mention Israeli recent threat to annex 30% of the West Bank. Palestinians rightly see this pact as a stab in the back.”

Wyatt Miller connected these events to the role the U.S. plays. He said, “The Anti-War Committee says end U.S. aid to Israel, and hands off Lebanon. This is especially important in 2020. Last month saw the ammonium nitrate explosion which destroyed the Beirut port. Trump has exploited this tragic accident by introducing sanctions against Lebanon. His administration claims the sanctions are ‘targeted’ but we know from Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and too many other countries that even ‘targeted’ U.S. sanctions are used to slowly ramp up suffering and deprivation on an entire population, as a form of brutal, coercive pressure.”

The protest ended with chants of “Free, free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

The protest was organized by the MN Anti-War Committee and co-sponsored by American Muslims for Palestine MN and Women Against Military Madness.

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