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Orange County mourns 20,000 Palestinian martyrs

By Diana Terreros

Crowd wearing Palestinian flags, seated and standing, listen as a speaker talks up front.

Anaheim, CA – On Sunday, November 26, close to 200 people gathered at a vigil organized by the Palestinian American Women’s Association and co-sponsored by over 15 organizations to mourn the 20,000 Palestinians who have been martyred since October 7. In some cases, entire bloodlines have been wiped out and more than a million have been displaced from their homes.

Candles were lit and flowers were laid out to honor the martyrs whose names were displayed on a banner. Many spoke about the personal impact the occupation of Palestine and genocide being conducted by Israel has had on their families. One speaker was present during the Nakba of 1948.

Shaheen Nassar, a community organizer with the Council on American-Islamic Relations stated, “Unfortunately, I’ve lost family in almost every major bombing campaign of the Gaza strip, including more recently my eight-year-old relative who was killed in one of the bombing campaigns. And inshallah, we will vindicate all our martyrs with the dismantlement of the apartheid system.”

The role of the United States in the genocide of Palestinians was also highlighted throughout the vigil.

Ayah Shiadah, program manager at the Arab American Civic Council, declared that “the U.S.-made weapons of destruction used in this conflict must not continue to bring death and despair to the people of Gaza and Palestine. We must hold accountable those who have aided in this endless occupation and rampant genocide.”

A speaker from the Palestinian Youth Movement spoke about the millions that capitalists and politicians make by spilling Palestinian blood and asserted “we will continue to disrupt the flow of profit for those who get richer with every single weapon or technology they send to Israel. For every business deal they make with Israel.”

In the past week, protests and die-ins have taken place at malls and defense companies to demand an end to U.S. aid to Israel, including a protest that shut down a Lockheed Martin subsidiary in Minnesota and a protest held in Los Angeles at a Raytheon facility.

Palestinian youth ranging from eight to 12 years old also spoke at the vigil, reading poems and leading chants of “Free, free, free Palestine!” and “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes!”

Dr. Melina Abdullah, director of Black Lives Matter Grassroots and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, spoke about the long history of solidarity between Palestinians and Africans and African Americans, stating, “I am coming to you standing on the shoulders of my African ancestors who since 1948 have stood in solidarity with the Palestinian people. See, Black people have always understood that our struggle here, our struggle worldwide mirrors in so many ways the struggle of Palestinian people.”

David Pulido, co-founder of Community Service Organization Orange County, spoke about what the Palestinian resistance means for Chicanos and other oppressed nationalities. “For the people, Operation Al-Aqsa Flood means that it is right to struggle against your oppressor. It means that the only path to liberation is to recognize your enemy and struggle against him.”

Pulido ended his speech with a statement of solidarity: “The resistance of the Palestinian people inspires me and we in CSO OC stand in unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian liberation movement. While the particulars of our struggles as Chicanos and Palestinians are different, our main enemy is the same: U.S. imperialism.”

The mass demonstrations that have taken place across the country were highlighted throughout the vigil as a sign and a reason that the tide is turning against Israel. Kareem Youssef of the US Palestinian Community Network encouraged attendees to keep up the fight. “We must continue to organize and fight against Israel, the United States, and all who support genocide. We are on the right side of history. We are the ones teaching civility. We have defeated Israel these past 50 days and we must do whatever it takes again and again and again until one day Zionism is but a thing of the past and Palestinians have finally won their liberation from the river to the sea.”

#AnaheimCA #FreePalestine