500,000 march in Washington, DC for Palestine

Hundreds of thousands of people in the US marched on Saturday for the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation and to decry the support of their government for Israel

November 06, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Protesters converged in Washington DC to demand a ceasefire now, end to all US funding of Israel, and an end to the siege on Gaza. Photo: Bratton Young

Over 500,000 people poured into Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, on November 4, in the largest Palestine solidarity demonstration in US history. The unprecedented demonstration comes in the wake of Israel’s ongoing genocide in the Gaza Strip. Organized by a wide range of Palestinian, Arab, and anti-imperialist groups including the Palestinian Youth Movement, the ANSWER Coalition, the Peoples Forum, Al-Adwa: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and National Students for Justice in Palestine, hundreds of thousands rallied and then marched to the White House, demanding an end to US funding for Israel, and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Protesters yelled chants such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” and “Ceasefire now!” Some brought long lists of names of those killed in Gaza in this past month by Israel.

This 500,000 strong march occurred in the heart of Israel’s most significant backer, the United States, despite the fact that people in the country have been faced with various forms of persecution for supporting Palestine. The Virginia Attorney General just opened an investigation into American Muslims for Palestine looking into allegations against the group for “benefiting or providing support to terrorist organizations”. Students who organize in solidarity for Palestine, especially those in local Students for Justice in Palestine chapters, have been doxxed and have had job offers rescinded.

“We’re all afraid, but this fear does not compare,” said Palestinian poet Mohammed El-Kurd, speaking from the podium at Freedom Plaza. “They want us to think that we are paying personal prices, but we have our community. They want us to think that we are alone, but we have our people supporting us. If they come for you, if they take your job, if they fire you from school, if they expel you, do not think of yourself as a casualty. You are not a casualty, you are fuel for the movement, you are part of the struggle.”

“Empire does not reward silence. It will crush us anyway, it will swallow us anyway, we will not sit in the corner quietly as they kill our people.”

The US has contributed around USD 130 billion in military aid to Israeli occupation since the creation of the state in 1948. In the wake of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, the House of Representatives passed a massive USD 14.5 billion military aid package to further support the occupation. The bombs that Israel drops are largely US-made. “It is not lost on us that the US government sends its military advisors and soldiers, it’s aircraft carriers and rockets, its weapons of mass destruction to support the genocide of our people,” said Mohammed Nabulsi of the Palestinian Youth Movement. “It is not lost on us that this same government mobilizes its repressive vehicles in the US to surveil, suppress, and criminalize our communities in the movement for Palestinian freedom.”

Brian Becker, executive director of the ANSWER Coalition, brought up how similar numbers showed up many decades ago in solidarity with the struggle against South African apartheid. Despite the US government’s support for the South African government at the time “forty years ago this month… thousands of people came together in Washington DC to say that the racist fascist apartheid regime in South Africa must fall, and we will help it fall, and within a few years, it did fall.”

“We make the change, the change comes from us, and right now sisters and brothers—we are sending a message, a very strong message to Joe Biden: if you stand with genocide we hold you guilty of genocide.”