New Yorkers protested on Friday, 17 February outside the Best Buy in Union Square to demand freedom for Palestinian prisoners and stop the persecution of Palestinian activists and political leaders in occupied Palestine ’48. Demonstrators highlighted the case of the persecution of Basel Ghattas, a Palestinian member of the Knesset accused of smuggling mobile phones to Palestinian political prisoners. The protest also emphasized the growing international campaign for the boycott of Hewlett-Packard (HP) corporations, demanding HP end its services to Israeli prisons, detention centers and other infrastructure of colonization and occupation.
The protest, organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, highlighted the persecution of Ghattas as part of the systematic suppression of Palestinian political activity and expression through nearly 70 years of occupation. They demanded the ongoing investigation and accusations against Ghattas be dropped, alongside the persecution of As’ad Daqqa in the same case and the isolation of long-serving Palestinian prisoner Walid Daqqa. Walid Daqqa, 55, has been held in Israeli prison since 1986; a leader in the prisoners’ movement, he has been held in solitary confinement until 25 January and his isolation was extended until 8 March.
Protesters handed out leaflets and flyers on the struggle of Palestinian political prisoners, as well as information about HP’s profiteering from contracts for occupation identity card systems used at checkpoints, as well as database systems used by the Israel Prison Service. There is a growing international campaign to boycott HP and demand the corporation end its contracts with Israeli occupation infrastructure.
Demonstrators had lively discussions about the situation of Palestinian prisoners with passers-by, including one prison abolition activist in New York, who works with the Friends of Island Academy, an organization that works to support incarcerated youth in New York City jails. He discussed the involvement of corporations like G4S and HP in both U.S. and Israeli prisons, as well as the ongoing flow of strategies and expertise between the U.S. and Israeli governments to build repressive systems of policing, imprisonment and colonization.
The event took place only two days after Samidoun activists joined Palestinian and Palestine solidarity organizers from a wide range of New York-based organizations to protest against the Trump-Netanyahu meeting. Hundreds of marchers and protesters gathered for a rally organized by the NY4Palestine coalition and a march organized by Jewish Voice for Peace. “We’ve been against the establishment of Israel since it was created over 70 years ago! People are just now waking up because it’s Trump’s face and not Obama doing the same exact thing. It didn’t start with Trump, but it starts with American imperialism!” said Nerdeen Kiswani of NYC Students for Justice in Palestine.
Samidoun in New York City is organizing a series of upcoming events and actions in support of the Palestinian people and Palestinian prisoners, including a protest on Tuesday, 14 March outside the New York Hilton Midtown against the “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces” annual gala, where fanatical Zionists gather each year alongside Israeli soldiers to raise tens of millions of dollars to support Israel’s political imrisonment and other war crimes against occupied Palestinians. The protest will take place at 5:30 pm outside the hotel and is endorsed by a number of organizations, including Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, the Committee to Stop FBI Reception NYC, International Action Center, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, NY4Palestine and the United National Antiwar Coalition.