Thousands of New Yorkers are taking to the streets today in an emergency rally and march across the Brooklyn Bridge to call for an end to the bombing of Gaza and the occupation of Palestine. Chanting “From Palestine to Mexcico/Border walls have got to go” and “Netanyahu you can’t hide/ we charge you with Genocide,” upwards of 7,000 protesters are marching from the Brooklyn Museum to the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan.
Despite the peaceful nature of today’s protest and despite the fact that many Jewish people are participating in the march and have been speaking out in support of Palestine, the New York Post and other media outlets have used this demonstration in particular to discredit the Pro-Palestinian movement as antisemitic and to stir up racial animosity and divisions, dishonestly suggesting that the protests today would be a threat to the large Jewish population that lives in Crown Heights, which is near where the march began. Indeed, the New York Police Department said that it was sending an incredible 1,500-1,800 police officers to respond to the protest, and reports suggest that the police presence is huge. But, as the massive Jewish Voices for Peace rally at Grand Central station last night emphasized, anti-Zionism is not antisemitism, and criticism of the state of Israel is not a threat to Jews. On the contrary, the struggle for Palestinian liberation and the end of the occupation is something that all people of conscience support, regardless of their faith; and the fate of Jews and Arabs in Israel and the occupied territories are intertwined and neither can be free without the other.
The rally, which is still underway, is taking place less than a day after Israel launched one of the deadliest attacks on Palestinian civilians in decades, sparking an outcry from people all over the globe, an attack that almost immediately followed a failed United Nations vote on a resolution calling for an “immediate and sustained humanitarian truce,” which was subsequently vetoed by the United States.
The bombing has been so great, in fact, that it has destroyed international communication lines, and much of Gaza is now without power and cut off from communication with the rest of the world. This has made it all but impossible to offer medical care to injured people in Gaza, has hampered rescue coordination, and made it impossible to calculate the full extent of the invasion or how many Palestinians have been killed in the recent bombings. However, we do know that since October 7, when Hamas launched an incursion into Israeli territory, more than 7,000 Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli bombs. Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians have been killed and wounded in fighting in or near the West Bank as Israel’s war threatens to spread the conflict even further into neighboring territories. Israeli Prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who claims that the Israeli Defense Forces have “killed thousands of terrorists,” said last night’s bombing and ground invasion marks the beginning of the second phase of what could be a very long war, one that will only bring more death and destruction to Palestinian civilians.
Today’s protest, one of the biggest pro-Palestinian protests in New York since the most recent conflict began, comes amid a rising global wave of support for Palestine and calls to end the Israeli bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza. In London today, more than 100,000 protesters marched to demand that Israel “stop the war on Gaza,” while ten thousand people turned out in Rome and close to ten thousand more came out in Berlin, even though pro-Palestinian protests have been banned by the German government.
Meanwhile, in New York last night, at least one thousand protesters organized by Jewish Voices for Peace shut down Grand Central Station during rush hour to demand an immediate ceasefire. Several hundred protesters wearing shirts that read “Not in our Name” and “Jews say Ceasefire Now” were eventually arrested. These protests and the increasing outcry over Israel’s crimes, are a clear indication that, despite mass repression and threats of retaliation, resistance to the occupation and Israel’s endless war on Palestine is growing. While a majority of those polled in the United States said they supported Israel, 66 percent agreed that the U.S. should call for “a ceasefire and de-escalation of violence in Gaza,” At the same time, support for Israel among young people (Gen Z and Millennials), in particular, has fallen to less than half, and 51 percent of those under 35 said they do not support sending weapons and military equipment to Israel.
Today’s marches around the world and last night’s protests at Grand Central Station show unequivocally that there is a growing and increasingly dedicated and organized multi-ethnic and multi-religious movement against Zionism and for Palestinian liberation. Building this movement in the United States and across the imperialist world, in particular, is one of the most powerful tools we have to end the occupation and to bring an end to the decades of oppression, war, and conflict that have created so much suffering and taken the lives of so many. The demands to end the bombing of Gaza and the defense of a ceasefire are significant and progressive, as are the actions of the dock workers in Italy, who have responded to the call of Palestinian trade unions to stop the shipment of arms to Israel, and who are demonstrating how we can take these struggles into our workplaces as well as the streets. Students, workers, Jews and Muslims, and many other oppressed groups are showing the way forward by rallying all around the world to defend Palestine. This incredible international support is an important part of the broader fight for the liberation of Palestine and the creation of a single, secular, socialist state where Jews, Arabs and all minorities can live in peace with equal democratic rights.