From Brooklyn to Chicago, supporters of Palestinian rights organized actions in solidarity with besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip this month. This summer marks five years since the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza and 12 years since the imposition of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
This year, the American Friends Service Committee issued a Gaza Appeal to help seniors in dire need of support to meet their basic needs. Many elderly Gaza residents require medicine, sanitary products, and other specialized items to maintain dignity that are not provided through standard aid programs. Many organizations and individuals responded to the call of the appeal.
This summer, Democratic Socialists of America in New York City organized a benefit concert to raise donations for AFSC’s Gaza Appeal. Jehad Abusalim of AFSC spoke at the benefit, explained the goal of the appeal and expressed AFSC’s gratitude for the DSA for organizing the concert. Local and independent artists and bands including Phil from Accounting, Noods, Slight Of, and DJ SAPHE performed at the concert.
Sailing for Gaza’s Freedom in Chicago
Later this month, US Boat to Gaza, joined by Voices for Creative Nonviolence and AFSC-Chicago organized three days of action to call for an end of the blockade and aggression on the Gaza Strip. The actions included a public event entitled “Lifting the Siege: Why Gaza Matters to Us,” in which Retired Colonel Ann Wright, of US Boat to Gaza alongside Jehad Abusalim of AFSC spoke to launch the “Free Gaza Chicago River Flotilla.”
Eighty people from and beyond Chicago gathered to hear the speakers. In her introduction, Jennifer Bing, AFSC’s Palestine-Israel program director, provided a brief overview of AFSC’s work in and around Palestine since 1948. Bing talked about the Gaza Unlocked campaign, and how the campaign has been a vehicle for shifting opinion and raising awareness on the predicament of Palestinians in Gaza.
In his talk, Abusalim talked about the heavy burden of the trauma from 2014 war in its fifth anniversary. “Palestinians in Gaza and beyond haven’t gotten the chance yet to process the trauma and pain of the 2014 war,” he said. Abusalim also reflected on why Gaza matters to Palestinians and non-Palestinians by highlighting the role Palestinians in Gaza played historically, alongside with their fellow Palestinians in and outside Palestine, in preserving the political nature of the Palestine question. Gaza has been and will always be a stage for resisting solutions and formulas imposed from the outside that do not take Palestinian self-determination, rights, and connection to the land into consideration, Abusalim explained.
In her talk, Retired Colonel Ann Wright talked about the history of the US Boat to Gaza initiative. Wright talked about her experience participating in four international flotillas to Gaza and the preparations for the fifth one next year. The flotillas, according to Wright, seek to challenge the Israeli naval blockade imposed on Gaza’s shorelines, shed light on the blockade, and let Palestinians there know they are not abandoned and left alone.
The following day, people participated in an action outside BOEING’s corporate offices in Chicago, the large weapons-manufacturer for profiting from war and conflict that result in thousands of civilian deaths. Demonstrators read the names of 1,254 Palestinians killed in Gaza in 2014. The action started outside the Israeli consulate in Chicago and continued to BOEING’s corporate offices.
Prior to the BOEING protest, Ann Wright and Jehad Abusalim were interviewed by Jerome McDonnell on his show Worldview on Chicago’s WBEZ.
On the third day, participants in the action sailed in the Chicago river in boats and kayaks, wearing “Gaza Unlocked” t-shirts, and carrying signs that called for an end of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.