WASHINGTON (Middle East Eye) – Thousands of protesters have rallied across the United States Sunday to raise awareness about the Nakba, or catastrophe, in reference to the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians at the hands of Zionist paramilitaries in 1948.
The annual demonstrations are usually a melancholic affair, but demonstrations in New York City and Washington were layered with additional tragedy in the aftermath of the death of Palestinian veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot by Zionist troops last week.
In New York, around 2,000 people from all walks of life packed on Sunday the streets of Bay Ridge. Protesters gathered in large numbers, draped in keffiyehs, holding a multitude of signs and waving the Palestinian flag.
“Palestinians have been resisting for 74 years. And we have a legacy of resistance and we need to make sure that that legacy is upheld and nurtured by the youth here, by the older generation,” Tamar, an organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), told Middle East Eye.
“We just want our land back. We just want to return to our homes. We just want the settlers to give us our homes back. We want to be able to live in the villages that we’ve lived in for generations. That’s all we want.”
Lema Majdalawieh, a 21-year-old Palestinian student in New York, recalled how her grandparents had been forced out of Yafa in 1948.
“What Palestine means to me is that we say ‘Ana dami Falastini’ (‘my blood is Palestine’) all the time, but it’s definitely in my blood. I always had that feeling to research and see what was happening in my country and I definitely feel like it’s a part of me,” she told MEE, grinning as her Palestinian flag gently unfurled against her face.
The Palestinian Youth Movement said they had organized, in partnership with several groups including American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a total of 15 protests in cities all over the U.S. and Canada.
In Washington, hundreds gathered at the Lincoln memorial, just blocks away from the State Department and in view of the U.S. Capitol building.
Protesters stood holding banners reading “Free Palestine” and “Stop Ethnic Cleansing” at the Reflecting Pool, the site where Martin Luther King Jr gave his “I Have A Dream” speech during the Civil Rights Movement nearly 50 years ago.
“It’s my family’s suffering. I’m here because of that. Seventy years ago, my dad was in Haifa. And he was expelled out of his house because of the Zionist terrorist groups and militias who kicked out 750,000 Palestinian families,” Ahmad Krayem told MEE.