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Standing for justice in Palestine

Four reports from the front

Tempest members report on large and inspiring rallies, marches, and acts of civil disobedience over the past week in defense of Palestinian resistance and condemnation of Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza.

Minneapolis–Paul KD

There have been two protests in solidarity with the Palestinian liberation movement this past week in Minneapolis. The first was on Monday, October 9, right after the “Al Aqsa Flood” attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli mass murder campaign began. Around 300 people showed up to a downtown rally and march led by the Anti-War Committee, American Muslims for Palestine-Minnesota, and Students for Justice for Palestine-University of Minnesota. It was a great, spirited march with lots of honks in support from passing drivers, and led by Palestinian youth. The Left was also present, as well as Anti-Zionist Jews.

On Sunday, October 15, the same groups organized another march in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. This one was absolutely massive, with somewhere between 2,000-5,000 people showing up. This would make it the largest rally in Minneapolis since the George Floyd Uprising, and the largest in the Twin Cities since a Planned Parenthood-led march after the Dobbs decision last summer. A lot of credit has to go to the organizations who have consistently led these marches for years, through lots of repression and American ignorance. Just this spring, for instance, the annual Nakba Day march in the same neighborhood, led by the same organizations, barely scraped by 100 people. It is a testament to their integrity that from small marches to huge ones they have never wavered from their strong messages of solidarity with the Palestinian resistance to 75 years of Israeli apartheid rule.

Hundreds of people flying Palestinian flags and carrying signs and banners for a free Palestine stand in bright sunshine.
Photo by Paul KD.

New York City–Sherry Wolf

On Friday, October 13 at sunset, a gathering of two thousand people led by Jewish Voice for Peace, Not in our Name, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice marched from Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to the home of Senator Chuck Schumer. Dozens were arrested during an act of civil disobedience.

The mostly-Jewish, multigenerational crowd, including numbers of new activists, came out in a visible show of explicitly Jewish opposition to Israel’s massacre.

The atmosphere was somber, as some were grieving loved ones on both sides who’ve been harmed or killed. Participants refused the idea that a forced exodus and genocide would be in the name of Jews. Chants of “Never again is now!” and “Never again for anyone!” rose alongside “Free Palestine!” A rabbi spoke and gave the shabbas prayer; they spoke of genocide not being a Jewish value. A Mizrachi Israeli-Turkish woman spoke about the need to reject tribalism.

The crowd grew as the sun set, and Jewish anti-Zionist leaders implored comrades to take the week off of work, disrupt our lives, take action to stop this genocide in any way we can. Mobilizations by JVP have been called for Monday and Wednesday in Washington, DC. with rides being coordinated online.

Dearborn, MI–Hank Kennedy

Today (October 14) there was a large rally for Palestine in Dearborn, Michigan, a city with a large Muslim population. The liberal Detroit Free Press claimed hundreds attended but the alternative paper the Metro Times, more accurately to the observations of my partner and I, stated that thousands were present despite the drizzly weather. The rally was endorsed by numerous Palestinian groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine and the Palestinian Youth Movement. Endorsers from left-wing groups included the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), the Communist Party-USA, and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The University of Michigan Graduate Employees Organizing Committee also endorsed the rally, despite the pro-Israel slant of their parent union, the AFT. Notably absent from the endorsers was Detroit DSA. There was one counter demonstrator who carried a sign saying “The NSA Can See Everything” and played loud music from a portable speaker. At first I thought he was a crank, but my partner surmised that he was there to intimidate people and imply that marchers would face retaliation from the government.

Los Angeles–Denée Jackson

On Thursday, October 19, at a gathering organized by the organization IfNotNow, 70 protesters, all Jewish, held a direct action at the Los Angeles home of Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Emhoff is Jewish and the crowd appealed to his values to demand a ceasefire now.

It was a very powerful demonstration. We prayed together in Hebrew (the Shema), did the mourner’s Kaddish together, sang songs in Hebrew (“Lo Yisa Goy” and “Olam Chesed Yibaneh”), sang “We Rise” by Batya Levine, which was written in the struggle of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and “We Have Not Come Here Alone.” We read poems by Palestinians: “To Our Land” by Mahmoud Darwish, “We Never Stop” by Najwan Darwish, “Out of Three or Four in a Room” by Yehuda Amichai. People shared personal stories about how devastated they are that Israel is and has been killing Palestinians. NOT IN OUR NAME was one of the main chants that was powerful from Jews to say we do not stand for genocide or the killing of Palestinians in our name. “My grief is not a weapon” was also shared on signs and in speeches.

We were urging Doug Emhoff to join us. A main theme was the Jewish principle in Halakha called “pikuach nefesh,” that saving a human life is the most important mitzva; it’s above any other good thing you could do in the world. We also say that to save a life is to save the world. All life is sacred, period. “Ceasefire now!” was also a main chant alongside “End, end the occupation, free, free, free Palestine,” “Up, up with liberation, down, down with occupation,” and “We say justice, you say how, end the occupation now!” The street we were on had plenty of cars driving by and there were lots of honks or cheering in support.

There were a few cars that doubled back a couple of times to call us terrorists. There was one Jewish woman who drove by a few times yelling and then parked and got out to yell at us more. She said we are not Jews and that we are Hamas, and not human, and terrorists. I was also harassed as I left by a white man who followed me to a car that was going to take me back to my car. He was trying to take my photo and I was covering my face with a sign and he asked why I was covering my face and if it’s because I’m a terrorist. He came across the street and continued taking photos and videos and said he was going to send the photos and pictures of my license plate to homeland security. The event ended with lots of cops and secret service people (maybe 10 of each) standing around and across the street.

two dozen people carrying signs reading Jews for Ceasefire and "My Grief is not a Weapon" and wearing tallits and kippot, stand in prayer with their hands to their foreheads covering their eyes.
Photo by Justin Kohlberg.
About fifty people holding signs reading Stop Genocide in Gaza stand behind a black-and-white banner reading Jews Say Ceasefire Now. No Genocide in our Name. IFNOT NOW
Photo by Denée Jackson.

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Paul KD, Sherry Wolf, Hank Kennedy, and Denée Jackson View All

Paul KD is a member of UFCW Local 663, an activist in the labor movement in the Twin Cities, and a member of the Tempest Collective.

Sherry Wolf, the author of Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and Theory of LGBT Liberation (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2009), who was a member of ACT UP NY from 1988 to 1992 and the International Socialist Organization from 1983 to 2019. Today, Wolf is a trade union organizer and socialist living in Brooklyn and is a member of the Tempest Collective.

Hank Kennedy is a Detroit area socialist, educator, and longtime comic book fan.

Denée Jackson (she/her) is a bi-racial (black and white) queer woman with Jewish ancestry. She is based in Los Angeles and has organizing roots in Tucson. She's a member of the Tempest Collective and Black Lives Matter LA; she also practices transformative justice in community settings.