Thousands fill Times Square in support of Palestinians
Palestinian supporters march with signs and chant in protest as the Israel-Hamas war continues, Friday Oct. 13, 2023, in New York. | Bebeto Matthews / AP

NEW YORK—Last Friday, Oct. 13, thousands massed here to demand an end to the ongoing assault on Palestine by the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

An international wave of mass protests has materialized as the Israeli military continues to relentlessly bomb Gaza. There have been at least 1,799 deaths so far, among them 583 children and 351 women, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza. An additional 7,388 people have been injured. Around 1,400 Israelis have died in the war, mostly during the initial Hamas attack of Oct. 7.

The solidarity demonstration came in the wake of Israel ordering 1.1 million Palestinians on Thursday to evacuate northern Gaza. The United Nations declared such an evacuation impossible and warned of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Manolo De Los Santos, co-director of the People’s Forum and a lead event organizer, emphasized the need for international solidarity with Palestine, saying, “We join other social justice groups and the millions of people organizing around the world for the liberation of Palestine. We stand with Palestine.”

He said it was important to organize demonstrations in the U.S. and to demand “that all $3.8 billion dollars [of U.S. aid] to Israel be cut,” because it is allowing “this act of mass extermination.”

Prior to the Oct. 13 demo, the NYPD and the administration of Mayor Eric Adams announced they would be on guard to respond to any outbreak of violence. Present at the rally were not only hundreds of police officers but NYPD helicopters and drones for heightened surveillance, as well.

On Oct 8, another protest occurred in Times Square. After one demonstrator was photographed holding up a swastika, Adams attempted to claim it represented the whole march and denounced the entire action, saying it was “disgusting that this group of extremists would show support for terrorism.”

The Adams administration has direct ties of cooperation and collaboration with the Israeli state when it comes to security policy. The same technology used by Israeli forces to surveil Palestinians, for instance, has been deployed by the NYPD, and there have been joint meetings between agencies in the two countries, sponsored by Israeli lobbying groups. One such security exchange involved the NYPD special informant task group labeled “Mosque Crawlers,” which was explicitly modeled on Israeli surveillance of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

The large police presence at the Oct. 13 action in New York resulted in a number of protesters being arrested by the NYPD. Undeterred though, one New Yorker emphasized that the demonstration was about more than just marching as a sign of basic support.

“It is about the people of New York City refusing to ignore the ongoing suffering and fight of Palestinians and the overall state of oppression” by the Israeli government. Another protester led a chant, “In the millions in the millions, we are all Palestinians.”

A woman who attended the protest with her child pointed to the importance of solidarity. “I am here because I think it’s important for my small child to grow up knowing that we cannot stand by quietly while a massacre of such great proportions unfolds on the same Earth we stand upon.”

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Jacob Buckner
Jacob Buckner

Jacob Buckner writes from New York. Jacob Buckner escribe desde Nueva York.

Khadija Haynes
Khadija Haynes

As a Trinidadian-born Afro-Caribbean woman poet and writer, her life’s work, and ultimate goal, is to help people better understand how their own socioeconomic and psychological problems, are directly related to the oppressive nature of this system and not a result of individual shortcomings. As an organizer with the Communist Party USA & Young Communist League, Brooklyn Eviction Defense, Crown Heights Tenant’s Union, Sisters In The Struggle, and Flatbush Tenant’s Coalition, Khadija Haynes’ heart lies in lifting her community and all working-class people out of the conditions capital breeds.