Protesters support Palestinians to rally on Church Street
By KATE ALBRIGHT and DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
About 50 people gathered at Church Street and Bloomfield Avenue on Friday evening, seeking to end the Israeli attacks on Gaza and other violence in the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
The vigil and a march along Bloomfield Avenue were organized by New Jersey Peace Action, the Palestinian American Community Center, American Muslims for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace. It is a site where New Jersey Peace Action has for years organized weekly protests in response to September 11, the Iraq War and several other conflicts.
“We see police breaking into mosques. We see the police putting their knees on people’s necks and these are exactly the same things we experience here as a black American, ”said Imani R. Oakley, a political organizer for Montclair. “So anyone here can say that black lives matter, they could also look out there, overseas, and say that Palestinian lives matter just as much, because over-militarization and state violence are never acceptable. “
Wassim Kanaan, American Muslims for Palestine, implored those gathered to seek not only to support the Palestinians, but the struggles of “oppressed peoples of all kinds in many parts of the world.”
“Today we are in the land of the Lenapi people,” he said. “And so when we talk about Palestine and the forced removal of the Palestinians, we should start by recognizing that we are benefiting from the land, the land of a people who are also ethnically expelled and cleansed.” And he said that people all over the world have the “absolute right to resist oppression and unequivocal ethnic cleansing.”
The current violence began in early May, amid a series of conflicts as Israeli courts agreed to evict six Palestinian families from homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, so that the families could Jews can move in. Hundreds of Paelstinians and dozens of Israelis Police officers have been injured in clashes at the site which Jews know as the Temple Mount and which Muslims know as the home of al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock – considered a major holy place for both. The month saw violent clashes between Arab and Jewish residents of several Iraelian towns, rocket attacks against Israel by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, and Israeli tank fire and airstrikes on Gaza. According to Reuters, as of Sunday, the death toll in Gaza was 181 people, including 47 children; 10 people were killed in Israel, including two children.
Shinobi Adept, also from Montclair, said, “I walked out today because Americans need to know their taxes are paying for genocide all over the world and settler colonialism.”
Sam Ramadan, of Paterson, visits his family in the area twice a year, but was unable to do so during the coronavirus pandemic.
“My cousin sent me an SMS. She sent me a Snapchat a few moments ago and this is my home in Palestine. And that’s where the bomb is right now. They just hit him, ”Ramadan said, pointing to people in a photo on his phone. “Here are all my cousins, my family, they are all here. And then the military trucks come out of this bridge. They’ll drop a bomb. They will start to shoot. They’ll run back to the bridge.
Ramadan said he believes there is nothing he can do to help except attend vigils and rallies, and talk about the struggles his family and people are suffering.
“Because we’re fighting, it’s killing Earth, and we’re killing each other for no reason.” I don’t get anything out of it, ”Ramadan said. “So I hope that when we stand together it makes a difference and it speaks to everyone rather than the Palestinians. I hope that a whole community will join us and that we will make a difference. ”
Ali Aljarrah, from Little Falls, said that as an American Arab it was important to show solidarity with other Arabs in the Middle East.
“I think removing people from their land is a horrible thing. And as an American, we saw what happened with Native Americans, ”Aljarrah said. When his children and grandchildren ask him what he did during “the withdrawal of the Palestinians from Palestine,” he said, “I want to be able to say, well, I protested as much as I could. I tried to educate others about what was going on and tried to bring solidarity.
Joe Attamante, a 1966-1968 Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, said the United States should stop funding Israel.
“So we are funding apartheid,” said Attamante, a member of Veterans for Peace and Jewish Voice for Peace. “We are financing the disaster that is unfolding now. It has to stop. Hope this is the case.
Jeff Hoey, director of advocacy for New Jersey Peace Action, also called for an end to US support for Israel.
“We are here in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Palestine to try to end the violence against them and all the violence in the Middle East, while we are there,” Hoey said. “There have been too many, too many back and forths, too many false statements from the press about what is going on there. And we’re trying to right some wrongs, educate some people and show our support at the same time.
New Jersey Peace Action resumes its regular Friday night vigils at Church Street.
“We’re a small number of people, obviously,” Hoey said. “However, there is a lot of mobilization around this issue, so it is only a gathering of hundreds of people across the country. So if you put all of these people together, yeah, I believe we have a voice. Absolutely.”