Palestinians and supporters take to streets in Bay Ridge to protest New York officials’ participation in the Israeli Day Parade

June 6, 2018 Ariama Long
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Community members were out by the dozens on Tuesday, June 5 at a protest organized by Within Our Lifetime (United for Palestine) and the An-Noor Social Center to condemn state and city officials for participation in the Sunday June 3 Israeli Day Parade.

The small but passionate youth-based group who gathered outside the center at Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street — made up largely of Palestinians accompanied by members of the Hasidic community — was enraged that city and state representatives didn’t acknowledge recent violence and demonstrations in Gaza.

The protesters carried large signs, Palestinian flags, banners and mock coffins with pictures of slain loved ones. The chants of “Free, Free Palestine” led the drivers of cars passing by to honk in time and join in the chants.

Within Our Lifetime (United for Palestine) Co-Chair Nerdeen Kiswani, 23, said, “These officials just acted like we didn’t exist. So we’re here today to call them out as the Palestinian community, as the Arab community in Bay Ridge, to condemn them for these actions.” Kiswani live-streamed the speakers, who often switched from Arabic to English and back in their speeches, on a popular channel in Palestine.

Each year since the Nakba, the anniversary of dispossession of Palestinians following the 1967 six-day war, a Palestinian counter-protest forms against the celebration of the establishment of Israel. When President Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, both Arab and Muslim communities voiced outrage.

The U.S. embassy ceremony officially opened in Jerusalem on Monday May 14, an event that was followed by a spate of bloody violence.

About 60 Palestinians were killed, including several teenagers and Laila Anwar al-Ghandour, an eight-month-old Palestinian girl. In addition, the New York Times reported more than 1,350 related injuries. Razan Al-Najjar, a 21-year-old unarmed nurse, was shot in the back by an Israeli sniper three days ago. Pictures of these victims were seen on the cardboard coffins and posters at the rally.

“It’s really deplorable that at the Celebrate Israel Day Parade all of our elected officials marched,” said Dan Cione, 23, another youth organizer, “Theoretically, they claim to represent this community, and they are marching alongside a country that has killed hundreds of people, people that this community knows.”

The Israeli Day parade celebrated the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding. Both the mayor and governor marched. Their offices did not immediately respond to a request for comment, however Gov. Cuomo’s office did issue a press release the day of the parade.

“Israel is a reliable ally in a very dangerous part of the world. And especially with the international atmosphere, it’s important that we keep that alliance strong,” he said in the statement, “They’re part of New York, they’re part of the fabric.”

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