More than 300 protesters in Providence call on US to stop funding military aid to Israel
More than 300 protesters gathered in Burnside Park on Friday, holding up signs reading “US Aid Kills Palestinian Children!” and “Solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people”.
The protest was organized to demand that “the four federal lawmakers of Rhode Island co-sponsor a joint resolution of disapproval for a sale of $ 735 million in bombs to the IDF, and to end the $ 3.8 billion a year government in military aid to Israel, ”according to a press release from the Act Now to Stop War & End Racism Coalition, an anti-war and anti-racism organization.
Rhode Island for Palestine hosted the event, which was co-sponsored by over 15 organizations including Black Lives Matter Rhode Island Political Action Committee, Providence Democratic Socialists of America, ANSWER Coalition, Sunrise Providence, Brown Students for Justice in Palestine, RISD Students for Justice in Palestine, Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement and Party for Socialism and Liberation Rhode Island.
The purpose of the protest was to stand in solidarity with Palestine and raise awareness of the issue, Rhode Island organizer for Palestine Rasha Abousalem told the Herald.
After 11 days of violence between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, a ceasefire was called early Friday morning. At least 240 people were killed, most of them Palestinians in Gaza. Israel and Hamas have won the victory in this last conflict.
Abousalem, who has personal ties to the cause – her parents are Palestinian refugees who were part of the 1948 Nakba, a mass exodus during the 1948 Palestine War – is happy that many are beginning to recognize the weight of the conflict in Palestine. .
“Through social media, people are becoming extremely aware of the truth and facts of what is happening in Palestine under Israeli apartheid,” Abousalem said. “For a very long time people avoided describing the Israeli government in this way, but it is apartheid … and ultimately our taxes completely fund it.”
Members of various protest cosponsors addressed the crowd and called for a free Palestine.
Satya Mohapatra of ANSWER Coalition spoke about her support for the people of Palestine and Afro-Asian liberation.
“I’m not a Muslim, I’m not a Palestinian, I’m not a Jew. I am Indian. So why am I here today? Because Palestine is a matter of colonial occupation by settlers, ”Mohapatra said. He stressed the importance of showing international solidarity with Palestine and of mobilizing the US government.
BLM RI PAC Political Director Enrique Sanchez and BLM RI PAC Executive Director Harrison Tuttle spoke out to mobilize people of color and those from LGBTQ + communities to support Palestine.
BLM RI PAC supports those who are fighting for an end to “Western imperialism and colonialism, from the streets of Chicago and New York… to the complete and utter liberation of Palestine,” Sanchez said.
Jackie Goldman of Providence DSA spoke about their Jewish identity and their education in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I am here to introduce myself as a Jewish person and explain why we need to stand up for anti-Zionism,” Goldman said. As a socialist, Goldman calls for solidarity from everyday workers and says they can’t wait for lawmakers to act.
Subsequently, Abousalem and another organizer read the names of each child killed in the Israeli airstrikes, highlighting the young age of some of the victims and the number of these children belonging to the same families. The crowd then reserved a minute’s silence for the victims.
Protesters then marched to the world headquarters of Textron, an industrial conglomerate that has a tower in downtown Providence and ties to the Israel Defense Force. As the demonstrators marched, they chanted: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
Textron declined to comment on the protest in response to a Herald investigation.
The group then proceeded to the office of US Senator Jack Reed, head of the Senate Weapons Committee, and participated in a die-in where they lay in the street in front of the building. At the protest, Rhode Island State Representative David Morales MPA ’19 urged leaders to responsibly use their platform to protect human rights.
“They say they’re going to listen to people,” Morales said. “I want to be clear, the people are here and we are making our requests very clear.”
In a May 11 declaration, Reed said, “Israel has the right to defend itself against these attacks. … This outbreak of violence only underscores the importance of achieving a two-state solution, where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security.
He later called for a ceasefire in a joint statement with 28 other senators, and he praised President Biden for helping to negotiate the ceasefire.
“I urge both sides to respect the ceasefire,” Reed said in a May 20 statement. declaration. “The international community must seize this moment to play a constructive role and help bring a just and lasting peace to the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
Reed previously defended the $ 735 million arms transfer from the Biden administration to Israel, a sale from a private company that had been growing for months and that some House Democrats had pushed to delay before the epidemic in violence. Democrats who supported the on-time sale noted that the transfer machines are guided with precision, an important feature in reducing the death toll of civilians in Israeli strikes against Hamas.
“JDAMs are designed to make weapons precise. In this conflict, it seems to me to be a reasonable transfer. ” Reed told Politico before the ceasefire was called. “Frankly, this is not a pity supply. It was something they ordered regularly.
Reed’s office did not respond to a request for comment from the Herald.
Abousalem and Sterk Zaza, another organizer, concluded the protest by expressing their anger at Reed and Biden for using US public funds to support Israel.
“Divestment is one of the main demands of the Palestinians,” protester Mona Malone ’24 said. “By not showing support, you are immediately complicit. As Brown students, we have a responsibility… our tuition fees (and) everything we do impacts the lives of people internationally.
In March 2019, 69% of students who responded to the referendum of the Brown Divest student coalition voted for past he. The referendum asked whether the University should “cede all stocks, funds, endowments and other monetary instruments of companies complicit in human rights abuses in Palestine” and also “put in place a means to implement transparency financial and student supervision of University investments ”. 44% of undergraduates voted in the 2019 election – the highest turnout in three years – and 39.9% of students voted in the referendum.
After the adoption of the referendum, President Christina Paxson P’19 responded in a college-wide letter in which she expressed her opposition to divestment and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. In March 2020, the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies advised to Paxson and the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, that the University separate itself from “any business that profits from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.”
“We demand that we get rid of this violence that we have supported endlessly since the 1940s,” Morales said. “But to do this, our leaders must support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.”