Boston demonstration denounces US stance on Jerusalem

By Elisa Cabral
26 December 2017

On December 17, several hundred people gathered in Boston, Massachusetts to denounce the U.S. declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The speak-out was co-sponsored by alestinian and religious organizations, local peace groups, several chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Party of Socialism and Liberation. Trump’s declaration on December 6 was a direct attack on the indigenous Palestinian population living under the brutal Israeli occupation, and was met with international condemnation.

Hagar Assi, a lead organizer and member of the The New Generation Club of Boston, demanded the self-determination of Palestinians and liberation from U.S. influence in Palestinian affairs. “The significance of the rally was to protest the colonization of the indigenous Palestinian people and the fact that the United States does not have the right to make decisions concerning other countries other than their own. Jerusalem is occupied land and has been claimed by two states. Since there was no peace treaty over the land, it is not the place of the U.S. to make that decision.”

The morning was chilly but spirits were high as families gathered in solidarity with those in Palestine. The crowd was spotted with Palestinian flags and guided by cultural programming. There were attendees as young as 11 and 13 years old, many of whom were eager to speak up for justice in Palestine. “We’re here to support our country and we want Palestine to be free of Israel. It’s not fair for them to take land. It’s like saying “get out of your home, it’s now ours.’ Now that they made (Jerusalem) the capital, there has to be a protest against it. We have to speak up. It really started when (they) started the war. But then people started saying that we are terrorists and stuff like that. But we’re actually not. We just want peace,” said one youth.

Additionally, there were numerous protestors from the U.S.who assumed a staunch position against U.S. aid to the Israeli regime. Jeff Klein, a convener of the Palestine working group in Massachusetts Peace Action, asserted that the role of people from the U.S.in building solidarity with Palestine is to prevent their own government from continuing its financial and military aid to Israel.

Liberation News spoke with Klein and he shared his thoughts on the matter. “We see our main job here in the United States [is] to change U.S. policy toward Israel and Palestine. Because, first of all, this is where we live. But also because U.S. policy is what enables Israel policy. It’s hard to envision a liberation of Palestine without at least the U.S. backing off from its total support of Israel…We don’t have the the solution for Palestine. It’s the Palestinian themselves that have to fight for their liberation as they see it. But our fight is to get the U.S. off their neck.”

In the U.S. Congress, both Democrats and Republicans demonstrate unequivocal support for Israel’s illegal settlements. On the other hand, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement in the last decade has gained traction in its quest to end international support for Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. Recently, an anti-BDS bill has been introduced at the state level with the goal of stifling and demonizing anti-Israel activists. Klein further elaborated on the ways in which U.S. support for Israel threatens democratic processes in U.S. by pushing for a bill that attacks the civil right to boycott. “This [anti-BDS campaign] was a campaign that started in Israel. Most of the pro-Israel organizations in the United States effectively take their orders from Israel. And they see BDS as a threat, [so] they told organizations in the U.S. to organize state by state, because they’re already influential in Congress. But they wanted to make this seem to be a grassroots movements in every state, so that these anti-BDS resolutions have been introduced all over the United States. It’s a sign of the shakiness of the pro-Israel support among Democratic states…we’ve been organizing with other groups, and there’s a good chance we will be able to stop this. And it would a good demonstration that the pro-Israel lobbying is not unstoppable, and that politicians can oppose them and survive, so to speak. This is a defensive struggle, but it lays the groundwork for a more offensive work to change U.S. policy.”

Liberation News also spoke with Rabbi Dovid Feldman, who is a representative of Neturei Karta-Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism, an international organization opposed to Israeli occupation of Palestine. At the speak-out, Feldman raised many important points about the absurd claim often made by pro-Israel advocates that anti-Israel sentiments are anti-Semitic, emphasizing the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. “We raise the voice of Judaism, of the Jewish religion, which is in total contrast and total opposition to the state of Israel and all actions it’s doing…Speaking up against the crimes being committed against the Palestinian people in no way should be considered anti-Semitism.”

He continued: “On top of this occupation, on top of all expansions throughout these seven plus decades, when we are having this question of whether Jerusalem should be recognized, as the capital of what? As the capital of this illegal state of Israel. The capital of this disastrous movement that causes catastrophe on not only the Palestinian people, but to the Jewish people as well. Jewish people are also suffering from this occupation. Jewish people lived in Palestine with Muslims and Christians in peace. We didn’t need a state of Israel to protect us. This is a danger to the Palestinians and to the Jews. And in the addition to all of this, mind you, many people don’t know that this same criminal state of Israel that occupies Palestine, and oppresses the Palestinian people, is the same movement that oppresses anyone who stands in their way, who might be Jews as well. We have religious Jewish people in Jerusalem and many other parts of occupied Palestine–they are being harassed, intimidated, brutalized. Why? Because they speak against their regime of Israel.

“No one should ever think that the state of Israel is a protection for Jewish people. It is a protection for a political movement that is looking for support. But it is not support for the Jewish people. The Jewish people do not need a state of Israel. The Jewish religion doesn’t need a nationalism. Judaism is a religion. We need to remember the difference between Judaism and Zionism. Judaism is a religion and Zionism is purely political movement,” Feldman emphasized.

The rabbi concluded, “We have to have citizens of our country to wake up and understand that all what is going on totally wrong. It is wrong for the Palestinians. It is criminal according to international law. And it is truly criminal according to Jewish religion. We need to understand where all of this comes from, and when we understand that this is illegal, that it is religiously anti-Jewish and there is no justification to any of these crimes that state of Israel is committing, then we should wake up and understand that we should not support Israel. We should stand up for what is right and just.”

The continuation of the brutal occupation of Palestine and settlement expansion is part of a colonial project that has killed and displaced thousands of Palestinians for decades. The U.S. does not have the right to make legal decisions for another nation, much less on stolen land. Progressive and revolutionary people should continue to build a movement against imperialism and neocolonialism in Palestine and around the world.