Palestine Solidarity Movement in the US
by Surya Tamarai

Support for the people of Palestine has grown substantially amongst the US population in the recent past. Historically, this has not been the case. Everything changed after the October 2023 Israeli bombing and military attack of Gaza with the full support of the imperial powers of United States of America (USA) and Europe. 

A large and diverse coalition of groups are shutting down highways, organizing major protests and rallies, mobilizing students, and conducting numerous civil disobedience actions. 

On November 4th, a national protest march was organized for the liberation of Palestine. It demanded an immediate ceasefire, end to the US funding of apartheid Israel, and an end to the occupation. The 300,000 strong march was the largest demonstration for Palestinian freedom ever held in the US. It was organized by several Palestinian organizations and the ANSWER coalition. After rallying, protesters marched to the White House to tell Joe Biden, rightly referred to by many in the crowd as “genocide Joe.” In San Francisco, 50,000 took to the streets on this day. 

At the end of October, Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) led an occupation of Grand Central station in New York, where thousands of people participated in the largest sit-in protest in more than two decades. The participants included elected officials, rabbis and academics. 

A massive rally in support of the Palestinian people was organized in Boston on November 12th where more than 10,000 protesters demanded “Stop the genocide in Gaza!” and “End all US aid to Israel.” The 30 organizations, which comprise the Boston Coalition for Palestine, walked over a major bridge to show solidarity with students who are being targeted at universities such as Harvard, MIT and Brandies. 

Israel has been the largest recipient of military aid from the US. In the last 75 years, Israel has received $130 billion to become one of the most advanced militarized states in the region. In addition to the military aid, the US has supported Israel's economy with the total foreign aid amounting to $263 billion (from 1946-2023). 

The annual bilateral trade between US and Israel reached $50 billion in 2022. Since October 7th, the U.S has moved advanced Navy warships to the Eastern Mediterranean. Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives passed a military package amounting to $14.5 billion. 

Human Rights Watch has verified that white phosphorus has been used in some densely populated areas in Gaza. Chemical warfare with this agent has been shown to cause horrific burns leading to long term excruciating pain and suffering. 

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which are student groups in major Universities, that are coordinating with Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) actions such as the November 17th International Day of Student Struggle called Shut It Down for Palestine. Organizers in Seattle will protest Amazon’s Project Nimbus, which is a contract providing Israel with advanced cloud and AI technologies that aid Israeli apartheid. SJP is a rainbow coalition of African, Latinx, European and Asian American students. 

Native Americans have also been joining the protests with the demand of decolonization and land back as the only forms of justice for the crimes of settler colonialism. 

The Unite All Workers for Democracy caucus (UAWD), which is part of the United Auto Workers (UAW), amid a fierce strike, called for a boycott of Israel. Several human rights, racial justice, faith-based organizations, and labor unions are supporting the demand for a ceasefire such as Rabbis for Human Rights, American Postal Workers Union, Chicago Teachers Union, Restaurant Workers United, Unemployed Workers United, Massachusetts Teachers Association, American Federation of Teachers - Oregon and more.

In the latest Data for Progress survey shows that 66% of likely voters agree that "the U.S. should call for a cease-fire and de-escalation of violence in Gaza." A small fraction of US Congress has backed this demand. 

On October 16, 2023, Congresswomen Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib, along with André Carson, Summer Lee, and Delia C. Ramirez, introduced House Resolution 786, the Ceasefire Now Resolution. This resolution urges the Biden Administration to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire as well as to send humanitarian assistance to Gaza. One month later, this resolution has 18 cosponsors and has served as a springboard for a growing coalition of 34 members of Congress, including a United States Senator, across 21 states.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib is the only Palestinian American member of Congress. The House voted to censure Rep. Tlaib on Nov. 7th for supporting a free Palestine. She had mentioned this slogan in her tweet “From the river to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” This slogan calls for a free Palestine where everyone, no matter their religion or background, has equal rights and privileges. All Palestinians, who have been violently displaced, have the right to return. This was one year after she was elected for a third term to represent her many African American, Latinx, Arab and other constituents in Metro Detroit. Her censure had the backing of 22 Democrats and all but four Republicans.

On November 16th, the first legislation to block $320 million guided bombs to Israel was introduced by Rep. Ilhan Omar, a member of the US House of Representatives from the Democratic party.

In November, Rabbis for Ceasefire organized a week of protests. The founding co-chair of Jewish Voice for Peace and Rabbis for Ceasefire, Rabbi Alissa Wise, said “You know, there has been an effort over the past number of years to conflate critique of Israel with antisemitism. … There is nothing inherent in critiquing the Israeli state as antisemitic. The thing that we have to remember is that states must be held accountable when they violate human rights.”

Protesters also continue to organize civil disobedience actions against weapons companies that produce weapons for Israel. Recently, they spoured red paint at the offices of Elbit Systems, an Israeli defense electronics firm.

The demand for an immediate ceasefire, cutting all aid to Israel, and lifting the siege on Gaza is growing fast. The US establishment is getting increasingly concerned that this might grow into a major movement to end complicity with war crimes and demand for a free Palestine.

Palestine Solidarity Movement in the US