New Yorkers gathered on Friday, 2 July in a protest to defend Silwan and defend Palestine. The protest was organized outside the offices of the “Friends of Ir David,” one of multiple U.S.-based and -registered tax-exempt organizations that fundraise for the colonial settler organizations currently engaged in displacing Palestinians in order to build illegal, exclusively Jewish colonies on occupied Palestinian land. In Silwan, these organizations are working hand in hand with the Israeli regime to forcibly displace over 1,500 Palestinians from their homes and lands in order to construct a religious theme park, the so-called “City of David,” atop their destroyed homes.
Despite the blatant illegality of their actions under international law, organizations like the Friends of Ir David continue to enjoy tax-exempt status in the United States, raising funds to further enable these colonial projects, on top of the $3.8 billion in direct aid given to the Israeli regime by the U.S. government every year.
The New York City protesters gathered outside the building where the Friends of Ir David are headquartered, standing in support of the 130 Palestinian families in Silwan struggling to defend their homes and their presence in occupied Jerusalem. The protest was organized by the NY4Palestine Coalition, including member organizations Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition; American Muslims for Palestine – New Jersey; Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and Within Our Lifetime – United for Palestine. A contingent of the Neturei Karta, Orthodox Jews strongly opposed to Zionism, joined the demonstration.
Participants chanted outside the offices, demanding New York State Attorney General Letitia James stop enabling the tax-exempt status of these organizations funding occupation, colonization and apartheid. “It is right to rebel! Israel, go to hell!” and “There is only one solution – Intifada, Revolution!” rang out through the Manhattan streets.
Joe Catron, U.S. coordinator of the Samidoun Network, spoke outside the Friends of Ir David building. “Every crime being committed against the people of Palestine, in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Gaza and across the entire country, is not only being enabled by the $3.8 billion dollars being sent by every U.S. administration to the Zionist military, but also the millions of dollars being funneled through this building to displace the people of Jerusalem, where they have lived for centuries,” he stated. “Today is the beginning of a long struggle, not only against the Joe Biden administration…but against every other level of government that enables this criminal enterprise.”
Following the rally outside the settler organization’s office, demonstrators marched to the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, demanding an end to U.S. aid to Israel and ongoing support for Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity. They denounced Schumer’s lengthy record of anti-Palestinian rhetoric and action.
“Senator Schumer must stop supporting and cheering on the Israeli government’s ongoing human rights violations against the Palestinian people. He needs to immediately and publicly demand the Israeli government stop committing these crimes…Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Zionist crimes!” demonstrators affirmed, vowing to return and continue to organize until Palestine is free, from the river to the sea.
Photos: Al-Awda NY