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Minnesota: More than 2000 protest against ongoing Nakba In Palestine

By Wyatt Miller |
May 16, 2021
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Nakba Day is marked in Minnesota, more thnt 2000 stand with Palestine.
Nakba Day is marked in Minnesota, more thnt 2000 stand with Palestine. (Autumn Lake)

Columbia Heights, MN - On May 15, over 2000 people marched in the streets to protest the Israeli regime’s latest onslaught against Palestine. The occasion was Nakba Day, commemorated on May 15 every year since 1948 when Zionist settlers ethnically cleansed over 750,000 Palestinians from their national homeland. The event was organized by American Muslims for Palestine-Minnesota (AMP-MN) and the Anti-War Committee (AWC), which were joined by Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Minnesota (SJP-UMN), Jewish Voice for Peace-Twin Cities, Women Against Military Madness and others.

Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags, wore keffiyehs, held signs denouncing Israeli apartheid, and chanted slogans like “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” Hundreds present were Palestinian refugees themselves. They were joined by many local Arab Americans, Muslims and others, as part of a growing wave of awareness of Israel’s U.S.-backed crimes. Residents of the heavily Arab-American Minneapolis suburb of Columbia Heights honked horns, raised fists and flashed victory signs in support.

The protest took place after a week of brutal Israeli attacks on Palestine, with no end in sight. As of this writing, international outlets reported 188 Palestinians killed, including 55 children, by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) since May 10. The violence began with Israeli attempts to ethnically cleanse the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem in order to facilitate illegal Zionist settlement. This was followed by violent IOF attacks on Ramadan worshipers at the nearby Al-Aqsa complex, one of the most sacred sites to Muslims around the world.

After a May 10 deadline for IOF withdrawal from Al-Aqsa passed with no action, Palestinian resistance forces began firing rockets from besieged Gaza toward Zionist settlements. The IOF responded with a large-scale bombing campaign, targeting apartment towers, schools, banks and other civilian infrastructure in the densely populated Palestinian enclave.

In an unprecedented turn of events, the resistance in Jerusalem and Gaza was joined by uprisings of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank as well as in neighboring Lebanon and Jordan, with reports of Palestinian refugees even crossing the colonial border fences into historic Palestine.

Palestinians in mixed towns inside the Israeli regime’s 1948 borders such as Lod (known as Lydd before the Nakba) also took to the streets. Zionist settlers formed lynch mobs in response, attacking Palestinians and destroying Palestinian-owned businesses. Concurrently, Syrians confronted the IOF in the Golan Heights, a region of Syria occupied and partially settled by Israel since 1967.

The mass uprisings quickly activated a global solidarity movement, with tens of thousands of demonstrators filling the streets everywhere from Baghdad to Sydney to Chicago.

In Minnesota, AMP-MN released a statement declaring, “We do not commemorate the Nakba as an event of the past. Today we are living the Nakba as ethnic cleansing and genocide are unfolding in front of our eyes.” The group called for support of Minnesota’s U.S. Representative Betty McCollum’s HR-2590 legislation to stop U.S. funding of Israeli war crimes. They also called on Muslims in the U.S. to boycott the White House’s Eid al-Fitr event.

“I love being Palestinian but by God it hurts seeing your country go through the same shit for 73 years,” Nadia Aruri of Students for Justice in Palestine-MN told the crowd in Columbia Heights, denouncing the ‘two sides’ stance taken by the U.S. media, which portrays Zionist settler aggression as somehow morally equivalent to Palestinian resistance.

Andrew Josefchak of the Anti-War Committee called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel, saying, “Our country has sent $147 billion dollars in foreign aid to Israel since Al Nakba and there’s no sign of it stopping anytime soon.”

Loretta Van Pelt of Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar connected the murders of African Americans by racist police departments to the Israeli military with whom U.S. police forces frequently train.

Organizers told demonstrators to stay tuned for more solidarity protests with Palestine in the weeks ahead.

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