Rhode Island stands with Palestine

By Shaun Joseph

PROVIDENCE, R.I.--About 200 people turned out downtown for the "Rhode Island Stands with Palestine" demonstration on February 7.

The event began with a rally featuring speeches from leaders of the local Arab and Muslim community, anti-Zionist Jews, campus organizers and several Palestinians. The speeches were notable for their uncompromising solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinian freedom struggle more generally.

The speaking program also featured songs of struggle and poetry contributed by members of the Providence Poetry Slam. Several members of Neturei Karta, a movement of anti-Zionist orthodox Jews formed in 1935, traveled from New York City to participate.

Endorsers included the RI Mobilization Committee to Stop War and Occupation, the American Friends Service Committee, Campus Antiwar Network and Students for Justice in Palestine at Rhode Island College, Common Ground at Brown University, the International Socialist Organization, the Muslim Students Association at University of Rhode Island, the RI Council for Muslim Advancement and many others

The demands of the protestors included: ending the siege and blockade of Gaza; respecting Palestinian self-determination; ending U.S. aid to Israel; and divesting from Israel.

The rally led into a spirited march through downtown Providence to the headquarters of the defense contractor Textron, which produces weapons used by Israel against the Palestinian people. A native of Gaza spoke about how he lost eight members of his family during Israel's recent massacre. Thirteen roses were laid in front of the building, each one representing more than a hundred Gazans killed since December 27.

Event organizers were thrilled at the large turnout--the event was put together in only two weeks--and felt that the antiwar movement had taken a big step forward by addressing the issue of Palestine so confidently. The success of the protest will be a strong answer to some in the antiwar movement who opposed it because it did not condemn the use of violence by the Palestinian resistance. Taking the side of the oppressed is not only right, but politically effective.