(Alex Rogals/Staff Photographer)

A week ago Monday, over 130 people from Oak Park/River Forest/Forest Park, Chicago and other west suburban towns came together in Scoville Park to demonstrate their solidarity with Palestinians, their condemnation of the Israeli government for the bombings of Gaza and killing of over 225 people, for Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights and freedoms, for the matrix of discrimination and control that Israel imposes on every facet of Palestinian life, and the ongoing inhumane blockade of Gaza. 

We were Jews, Christians, Muslims, secularists, young, old, students, homemakers, faith leaders, elected officials and veteran activists as well as individuals and families who had never spoken out about the Israeli atrocities occurring in Palestine.

We demanded that the U.S. government stop its support of the violence and the killing. The U.S. provides Israel with $3.8 billion annually in unconditional military support, and President Biden recently proposed to sell Israel an additional $735 million in precision-guided weapons, which will certainly be used on Palestinians in Gaza, whether now or in the future. 

Over the past few weeks, Palestinians have experienced an increase in aggressive Israeli actions in East Jerusalem (especially in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old City during Ramadan), provocative and violent policing tactics and support of violent marches by Jewish Israeli extremists, and planned forced removal of families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood (an Israeli-annexed Palestinian area of East Jerusalem). 

None of these human and civil rights violations by Israel are new. Palestinians have been imprisoned without charges for years and indiscriminately maimed and killed; their homes have been demolished, their land stolen, their fields of olive trees destroyed, and their access to water and electricity reduced to inhumane levels. Palestinian lives have been made intolerable for decades. 

The Israeli settler movement has mobilized an armed insurgency across Palestinian towns, and has reached newfound heights of political power. This has led to Jewish extremists shooting Palestinians on the street, several public lynchings, and throwing Molotov cocktails into Palestinian homes. In Sheikh Jarrah, two settler-organizations were the drivers behind the expulsion of Palestinian families: Nahalat Shimon and Ateret Cohanim. Both of these organizations are receiving charitable donations from the U.S., under the legal status of 501(c)(3) tax exemption. 

As was the case during last year’s spring uprisings in the U.S., we are again witnessing an awakening on the part of people around the world, and specifically here in our communities, to the Israeli violence and oppression that have been destroying Palestinian lives and communities. People are finding their courage and their voice to join in the calls for the U.S. to stop supporting Israel’s violations of U.S. and international law. People are pushing back on the threat of being called anti-Semitic for speaking out for human rights for all human beings. Standing up for human rights is anything but anti-Semitic. Indeed, we are seeing a growing movement of faith-based human rights, feminist, immigrant, and racial justice organizations coming together to say, “We Stand Together against apartheid, against ethnic cleansing, and for true democracy and human rights for all.” 

If you want to join with us, please contact us at http://www.cjpip.org. Add your voice to this movement for justice.

Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine (CJPIP)

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