See photos from the protest at bottom
Report back from Matthew:
On May 15th, over 1,000 people assembled in front of the Boston Public Library for a rally and march towards Israel’s Boston consulate. The goal of the rally was to protest recent efforts made by Israel to murder Palestinian civilians and children on the traditional date to remember the Nakba, when 700,000 Palestinians were violently chased from their homes so that they could be given to Israeli settlers. The event was co-sponsored mostly by several local university Students for Justice in Palestine groups, local Palestinian groups, Boston DSA, and PSL’s front group, the ANSWER coalition. While I did not see them on the co-sponsor list, there was also a heavy presence of anti-Zionist Jewish organizations.
PSL’s involvement is particularly notable considering their past support of the Assad government, which is responsible for the shelling of Palestinian refugees during the Syrian Civil War. Also of note was the lack of any union involvement in the organizing of the event. The struggle for Palestinian liberation in the imperialist US absolutely must include union struggle. Not only to follow in the spirit of working class internationalism, but to materially benefit and lift up our solidarity work in the US. Getting unions to sign on to boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) Israel is an essential step in making BDS measures sting the Israeli economy and pressure Israel to stop their settler colonial efforts. We cannot rely on businesses to adopt BDS measures by themselves, we need workers and unions to refuse to work to produce and trade commodities with Israel. Also worth noticing was the lack of any Democratic Party apparatus at the event, which is a positive sign.
The rally started with Arabic music played through speakers as people gathered in front of the library. It seemed that a large segment of the attendees, even large majority, were Arab or Palestinian. As more folks gathered, a lone Zionist counter protester showed up with American and Israeli flags to harass the rally attendees. Several protesters surrounded the Zionist to shout him away. Things got physical, there was some shoving and a few punches thrown before the Israeli flags were reappropriated and burned while the genocide apologist fled the scene. Cops were present on the periphery, but did not intervene. Throughout the confrontation, rally leadership used their speakers to ask the protesters to leave the Zionist alone in order to “not give them a platform,” but were largely ignored. This was definitely a political error, and reminiscent of similar reformist/liberal rhetoric to ignore fascist activity to not draw attention to their politics. All this would have done is give the Zionist room to threaten the crowd with their message of ethnic cleansing, and the Boston Revolutionary Socialists stands firm on ejecting bigots and reactionaries from public space to remove their politics of hate.
The organizers of the rally started off by reading out stories of martyred Palestinians before opening it up to the crowd to speak. The rally was energetic and emotional, with dancing, music, and flag waving. After occupying the square for a while, we marched on to protest the Israeli consulate in Boston. While BRS members were at the consulate at least there were no more speeches given, but there were some after we had to leave. Several folks climbed street lights and even the awning of the consulate building to wave Palestinian flags and direct slogan chanting.
Overall, the political energy of the crowd was amazing. There was no Democrat presence, and everyone was firm on a one state solution for a liberated Palestine.
Long live the intifada!
Report back from EH:
BRS members handed out flyers put together by the Revolutionary Socialist Network at the protest in front of the Boston Public Library. While BRS is a rather new organization and recently started showing physical representation at protests and rallies, this was the first time in all my organizing history that I can remember people literally asking me for flyers! I had some good conversations with folks when handing them out. One group of young girls, who were starting many of the chants carried out by the protest contingent, were delighted when I handed them a flyer and asked if they were interested in socialism. They told me they were all for revolution and seemed excited to check out our website. Nearly every person I spoke to when handing out flyers was visibly interested when I mentioned revolutionary socialist organizing. And that’s a great sign! It was clear in Boston on May 15th, 2021, that not only are larger demographics in the US coming around to support Palestinians’ freedom and recognizing the Israeli state as an oppressive ethnostate, but also that more and more people are seeking a solution to the world’s problems caused by capitalism.
I was very impressed by the sheer size of the crowd and lack of police presence and counter-protestors. The event was created on Facebook just five days before the protest took place. The independent journalism on the ground in Sheikh Jarrah and Gaza and the myriad video evidence exposing the bloody atrocities and forced evictions at the hands of the Israeli police and IDF spread like wildfire in the days before the protest, leading to a culmination of well over a thousand protestors in Boston on May 15, and several thousands in other US cities and around the world.
“Free, free Palestine!” was the chant that carried the protest and the march all the way through to the end. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” was the other most notable chant. The march started at Copley Square and ended at the Israeli Consulate of Boston, with protestors scaling street lights and the awning in front of the building, waving the Palestine flag proudly. Once we reached that destination, Palestinian music was being blasted out of the PA system, and the crowd was joyously dancing and singing (in Arabic). It was very uplifting to see, and truly evoked the sentiment that liberation is within reach!