Taking it to the Streets. Hundreds rally in San Francisco for a ‘free Palestine’

Freed from the constraints of  the Pandemic San Franciscans took to the streets on a sunny day in late May to show their love and support for the Palestinian people. The marchers included a number of Jews who support the Palestinians and deplore the recent military actions of the Israeli government in occupied Gaza.

The 11 day assault on the people of Gaza by the Israeli military supplied with weaponry by the American government is an outrage.

San Francisco has consistently shown its support for the people of Palestine whose land was taken from them in 1948 when the State of Israel was created after the Holocaust and World War II.

The living conditions for people in the occupied territories of Palestine are grim. There is not much of material value we in San Francisco can do.  By showing its support the world knows that San Francisco has the people of Palestine in its collective heart.

San Francisco Chronicle 5.22.2021

A ceasefire is in place — for now — between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, but the international conflict prompted yet another outpouring in the Bay Area on Saturday, as hundreds of people rallied for the Palestinian cause in San Francisco.

A diverse crowd chanting “Free, free Palestine” and carrying signs marched from the Mission District to Civic Center Plaza, where they promised to keep demonstrating for a peaceful resolution to the latest military clash. A protest last Saturday drew several thousand in San Francisco, while one in front of the Israeli embassy on Tuesday attracted several hundred.

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Up top showing support for the Palestinians

The demonstrations arose, in part, because of the heavy casualities sustained on the Palestinian side since the fighting began more than a week ago during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

Lisa Rofel of San Francisco, a national board member of Jewish Voice for Peace, said the organization has 18,000 members and supports boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel as nonviolent means “to bring Israel to finally negotiate the end to their occupation.”

“The Israeli government claims to speak in our names as Jews,” she said. “We have the right and the responsibility to speak back, to support the end to the violent occupation. Jews need to speak out for justice for Palestinians just as we spoke out for justice for African Americans, for Native Americans.”

Dozens of Jewish people also showed up to say that being Jewish doesn’t mean they support the actions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“It’s painful to see my Jewish identity weaponized against the Palestinian people and used to justify atrocities,” said Sarah Small, a UC Davis law student and San Francisco native.

The ceasefire that took effect Friday paused 11 days of combat in which Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire left 248 Palestinians dead, including at least 66 children and 39 women, according to the latest estimates from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Rockets fired by Hamas forces killed at least 12 in Israel, two of them children.

Protesters said the temporary stoppage in fighting wasn’t enough.

“A ceasefire does not end or resolve any of the issues we’re dealing with,” Bazian told The Chronicle. “There’s still the siege, still the suffering that has been visited upon the people.”

The contentious dispute over who has rights to occupy an area east of Israel on the west bank of the Jordan River that contains a number of Jewish holy sites goes back decades. But it also involves a nation, Israel, that has been defending its right to exist since its creation in 1948, and a group of people, Palestinians, advocating for their own nation state.

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Palestine supporters in front of San Francisco City Hall

Local demonstrators said on Saturday that they felt a surge of multiracial and multi-ethnic support for the Palestinian cause, as they marched down Van Ness Avenue alongside Black and Jewish allies.

Ahmina James, a 30-year-old legal assistant from Oakland, carried a handmade sign with gold letters reading “Black power for Palestine liberation.” She said she that support for Palestinian human rights dates back the Black Power movement.

“Before Black Lives Matter,” she said, “with the Black Power movement in the ‘70s there was huge solidarity with the liberation of Palestine. That solidarity is surfacing again.”


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May 2021 – A brave Palestinian faces down the Israeli military in occupied Gaza