PHILADELPHIA: Tens of thousands of Americans took to the streets of US cities on Saturday to demand justice for Palestinians.
The main demonstration took place at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, and there were at least 15 smaller protests in states including Iowa, Illinois, California and Texas.
Organizers of the Washington event described it as “a historic march for Palestine.” Protesters said that they “need to increase our pressure right now for Palestinian liberation. It is time for Israeli settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, military occupation, and blockade to be dismantled now.”
Nihad Awad, a member of the organizing coalition, told Arab News: “We are rallying in Washington to express our support for the Palestinian people’s legitimate struggle for liberation, and support the Sanction Israel Campaign to demand that our government hold Israel accountable for its war crimes.”
Hanna Hannia, who addressed the protesters on behalf of Palestinian American organizations, told Arab News that efforts must continue for Palestinian rights. “With the progress we have made in the past few months in Congress and with public opinion, we need to continue in this effort until Palestinian people get justice and freedom.”
John Dabeet, director of Americans and Palestinians for Peace based in Iowa, told Arab News that Americans and Palestinians must work together for peace and justice. “We are taking steps and we have an obligation to support our brothers and sisters in Palestine in their struggle against the Israeli occupation and we are urging the US Congress to support Palestinian rights,” he said.
Shifting American attitudes toward the Middle East have been illustrated in a new poll, which suggests a majority of Americans support a Palestinian state, and restricting aid to Israel if it builds settlements in contravention of US policy.
The poll, conducted by the Arab American Institute, indicates that while American attitudes are shifting toward a more balanced view, US Democrats are much more supportive of Palestinian rights than Republicans.
Almost 80 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans said Palestinians and Israelis were equal, and entitled to equal rights. Nearly half of all respondents said an independent Palestinian state should be part of a two-state solution, with only 12 percent disagreeing.
The shift had been building for some time, institute chief James Zogby told Arab News. “American media has been opening up to Palestinians, Congress has been giving space to pro-Palestinian speakers and even the most pro-Israeli Democrats are tempering down their language as a new generation of Americans is leading this change, which has even included young evangelicals who are moving away from the traditional pro-Israeli positions,” he said.