Thousands protest Biden’s support of Tel Aviv in Washington


Published: 2024-06-16 20:36

Last Updated: 2024-07-13 05:30

Editor: Laith Weinberger

Protestors lay on the grass of the National Mall in front of the Washington Monument holding a symbolic red line
Protestors lay on the grass of the National Mall in front of the Washington Monument holding a symbolic red line

On Saturday, June 8, thousands of pro-Palestinian activists — between 75,000 and 80,000, according to one estimate — marched in Washington, D.C. to demand an arms embargo, an end to U.S. military aid to Tel Aviv, an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Protestors chanted “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “we want justice; you say how” as they walked through downtown D.C., carrying Palestinian flags and donning keffiyehs. In addition to chants, there was music and dancing, and protestors carried oversized cutouts of the faces of Biden and other politicians.

Over 200 organizations endorsed the march, and the ANSWER Coalition, the Palestinian Youth Movement, and the People’s Forum organized buses to take protestors to Lafayette Square and the White House, which they picketed. Protestors fanned out into surrounding streets with a two-mile-long red banner to symbolize the metaphorical red line that Biden set last month when he said he would halt weapons deliveries to Tel Aviv if it attempted to invade Rafah.

While the White House claims Tel Aviv has not crossed Biden’s red line, many argue that the government has already gone too far. Taher Dahleh, an organizer of the demonstration with the Palestinian Youth Movement, criticized Biden for not responding to the killing of Palestinians, including in a school in the Gaza Strip, by stopping armaments.

A protestor holds a “we are the red line” sign, which resembles Bansky’s “Flying Balloon Girl” mural in the West Bank depicting a girl flying above the wall built around a Palestinian enclave.

“You don’t set the red line; we set the red line,” Dahleh said in an interview with Roya News, referring to Biden’s statement. “And our red line isn’t just Rafah; our red line is all of Gaza and all of Palestine.”

After the protest disbanded, at about 4:00 PM, legal scholars delivered an indictment of politicians and high-ranking government officials in Washington and Tel Aviv, reading first-hand testimonies from Gazans and telling stories of Palestinians denied medical care, being displaced, and starving.

Demonstrators traveled from across the country to Washington; buses came from Iowa, Indiana, Florida, and Kentucky as well as nearby cities like New York and Philadelphia. The protest is a continuation of others, including a November 4 demonstration held in Washington, and is a part of grassroots activism by hundreds of organizations among their members and on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. A May conference held in Detroit concluded with a call for this June 8 demonstration.

“These last eight months have seen a genuine people’s movement emerge…unlike anything we’ve seen before in the United States,” Walter Smolarek, a media coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition, said in an interview with Roya News.

“I think that massive mobilizations like these should be a cause for hope that the occupation can end, the genocide can end, and that the people of the world in increasing numbers…support the Palestinian people and are ready to mobilize in solidarity with them,” Smolarek said.