More than 100 people gathered at the Capitol building Saturday morning to peacefully protest and stand in solidarity with Palestine, leading to a brief confrontation with an Israel supporter.
The rally — which called for an end to the ongoing Palestinian struggle with Israel — came as a response to the most recent onslaught of violence between Palestine and Israel, which has reportedly left more than 100 Palestinians, including at least 40 children, six Israeli soldiers and 1 Israeli child dead.
The most recent confrontation was sparked after a series of events, including when Palestinian protesters and Israeli police clashed at the Al Aqsa Mosque and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem during the holiest month in Islam, Ramadan.
Since then, the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, has fired rockets at Jerusalem, to which Israel has responded with overwhelming and massive airstrikes in the densely populated Gaza. Protests have erupted worldwide, including the one in Madison.
Several organizations hosted the protest, such as the Wisconsin Muslim Civic Alliance, Black Umbrella Global, Reshaping Madison Together, the Democratic Socialists of America – Madison and more. Many Palestinian-Americans and allies spoke at the Capitol building in solidarity with Palestine.
“Israel has no legal jurisdiction over the occupied eastern part of Jerusalem according to international law, but nevertheless continues to illegitimately advance their racist agenda in a continuation of the state’s broader settler, colonial Zionist project,” a representative from the Democratic Socialists of America – Madison said. “The millions of Palestinians still living in the occupied West Bank in Jerusalem face constant home demolitions, illegal evictions, police and settler violence and apartheid. And Israel continues to expand its Jewish-only colonies, also in settlements.”
“My goal is helping people understand that our struggles here and in Palestine are connected,” said Palestinian-American Ashley Hudson. “That solidarity is absolutely critical for liberation and that you have a right to resist. …For too long, all we ever heard was news about the Palestinians terrorizing the Israelis and Israel defending itself, and that’s pretty much a lot of what we still hear. But the main thing that this narrative is made of [is the] ‘progressive’ shift to talking about both sides. Frankly, I’m tired of hearing the Israel-Palestine issue being infantilized, reduced to the idea of simply two [little kids] who like to fight and can’t be controlled.”
Hudson emphasized the importance of marching to show unification with Palestine.
“I do know that our standing up here today in solidarity with the Palestinians and Palestine will only strengthen their resolve, knowing that we see them, we’re with them, and that they’re not alone,” she said.
In addition to the speeches, the names of some of the children who’ve died were read.
“It’s disappointing that I even have to recite the names of these children, but this is why we’re here,” the person who read their names said. “We’re here to protect them, we’re here to fight back for them. And their deaths will not be in vain, as we are here to protect them and many more. So let’s do all we can to make sure that their deaths are not in vain. And that there are no more victims of this cruel behavior brought on by Israel. Free Palestine.”
As protesters set off to march around the Capitol building, a car with the Israel flag waving through the sunroof drove up on East Washington Avenue, which led to a brief confrontation between the protesters and an unidentified person standing through the sunroof who said they were “there to have a conversation.”
The person and several protesters began to yell at one another, before protesters started chanting “racists go home.” After a few minutes, the car turned around and drove off.
The marching continued on around the capitol, where people were urged to maintain their support for Palestine as the struggle continues.
Protests occurred nationally and internationally on Saturday as well.