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Minnesota protests Israeli massacre on 70th anniversary of Al Nakba

By Meredith Aby

Minnesota protest demands end of all U.S. aid to Israel.

Minneapolis, MN – Over 100 people protested outside Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office at the intersection of Interstate 35W and Washington Avenue in Minneapolis on May 15. The protest was originally called to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1948 Al Nakba massacre, “The Catastrophe” in Arabic, but it was overshadowed by the Israeli massacre in Gaza the day before, where at least 58 Palestinian protesters were killed by the Israeli military.

Last month, Palestinians in Gaza began “The Great Return March,” a plan to engage in six weeks of protest. The march began on Land Day, March 30, and continued to the anniversary of Al Nakba. An estimated 30,000 Palestinian men, women and children participated on the first day of demonstrations. Palestinians are camping out in tents along the northern and eastern edges of the Gaza Strip to highlight their right to return to their homes. Israeli soldiers opened fire on the unarmed protesters on Land Day and there have been casualties mounting over the six weeks. However, the May 14 attack was the deadliest since 2014, with 58 people killed and 2271 wounded.

Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) board member Sara Jane Olson was the first to address the crowd. “Today, on the anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel and, for the Palestinians, the observance of the Nakba or ‘the catastrophe,’ the world sees the colonizing and punitive aspects of the Zionist government of Israel as it was 70 years ago when it massacred itself into existence with the forcible takeover of land, and as it is today, mowing down peaceful protesters with live ammunition, demonstrating policies of political murder, continuing land theft and strangulating occupation.”

Lina Abdenabi, a Twin Cities Palestinian activist, gave a moving speech to the crowd, “Us Palestinians, we don’t have a billion-dollar lobby industry to advocate for us. And I don’t believe we need that to convince people we are on the side of truth and justice. But Zionists invest billions of dollars in trying to convince the world that Israel is a normal state, a democracy. The funny thing is, it’s not working. All this money they are spending on propaganda and yet support for Palestine is stronger and increasing every day. See, our oppressors don’t actually have a lot of allies. Israel has to have the U.S. bully and blackmail other governments into supporting it. Literally the U.S. threatens to cut off aid to countries that critique Israel. Palestinians do not have to bully other nations to support us! We have natural allies in other nations that have been colonized and we need to focus on them rather than trying to convince our enemy of our humanity. Our demands are simple. We want to return to our land – all of it – not parts of it! And we want to decide our own fate! We demand the US stop funding Israeli terror against Palestinians!”

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the U of MN won an important victory this spring. They had a successful Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) resolution pass the student body and it is now before the Board of Regents. Leila Bensaad Johnson, a member of SJP at the University of Minnesota also addressed the crowd, “We will continue to educate and promote the Palestinian narrative on campus in the U and across the U.S., but not only are people unwilling to consider the U.S.’ unwavering support to Israel, we’ve turned a blind eye and continue to support it with our taxes and complacent reporting.” The crowd got excited when she called out mainstream media coverage of the massacre in Gaza, “A massacre is not a ‘clash,’ BBC and CNN. We support the protesters in Gaza who are bringing attention to the Palestinian plight while being punished for it.”

The protest was co-sponsored by the Middle East Committee of Women Against Military Madness and the MN Anti-War Committee. It was endorsed by the MN Peace Action Coalition, Students for Democracy UMN, and MN BDS Community.

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