Brooklynites rally for Palestine after United States moves embassy to Jerusalem

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Hundreds of Brooklynites waived Palestinian flags and held signs reading “right to return” and other slogans at a pro-Palestinian protest in Bay Ridge on Monday — hours after the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem, and Israeli soldiers opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators at the border with Gaza.

One of the protest’s organizers said the neighborhood’s large Palestinian community welcomed the display of solidarity.

“A lot of people poured into the protest walking out of restaurants,” said Nerdeen Kiswani. “Seeing people who felt the same sentiments was amazing.”

The protest commemorated the Nakba — Arabic for “catastrophe” — which is how Palestinians refer to their displacement following the creation of Israel 70 years ago this week, and the subsequent Arab-Israeli conflicts.

Israelis celebrate their independence on May 14, while Palestinians typically mark the day with protests.

Monday’s demonstration on the corner of 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue was particularly charged after developments in Israel earlier that day. As the United States opened its embassy to Israel in a disputed Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers shot and killed 60 Palestinian protesters, mostly by gunfire, who were marching on the fence separating the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Israel. Some threw stones and tried to break through the barrier, according to Agence France-Presse.

The images of Trump administration officials celebrating the embassy’s opening in Jerusalem while the violence raged on in Gaza angered many at the Ridge protest.

“Ivanka and Jared were sipping champagne, and Jared was talking about peace while they were massacring people,” said Kiswani, who grew up in Bay Ridge.

Several pro-Palestinian groups organized the protest, including Within our Lifetime United for Palestine, which Kiswani cofounded. Around 300 attended, among them Bay Ridgites, activists, and even some Jewish groups, including Neturei Karta, a movement of Orthodox Jews who oppose the founding of Israel on religious grounds.

Palestinian activism is not new to Bay Ridge. Several of the country’s most notable activists are from the neighborhood, including Linda Sarsour, former head of the Ridge-based Arab American Association of New York. Displays of solidarity with the Palestinians are the norm there, said Kiswani.

“Bay Ridge is a stronghold of Palestinian identity,” he said. “It’s expressed in Bay Ridge much more than other places.”

One Borough Park protest attendee from the Workers World Party, a Marxist-Leninist group that supports the liberation of Palestine, said she feels support for the Palestinian issue is gaining momentum in the borough and around the country, especially after May 14.

“Even pro-Israel groups had no choice but to speak out,” said Kayla Popuchet. “People are learning more about Palestinian history.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.
Posted 12:00 am, May 18, 2018
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Reader feedback

Ben Dover from Brooklyn says:
Brooklynites rally for Palestine???
May 18, 10:18 am
Jeff from Brooklyn says:
You must like the United States if you are living here. If you don't, then go back to Palestine. You never had it so good coming to this country.
May 18, 2:32 pm
Alex Lapin from marine park says:
Dear Editor:

I was absolutely appalled by your story "Brooklynites rally for Palestine after United States moves embassy to Jerusalem"

By Adam Lucente. Such writing and journalism I have not seen my freshman class of Journalism 101 at a community college. There are so many inaccurate points here that i don't know where to begin. I only have enough space to address a few errors.

First Lucente, who clearly is bias, since he didn't bother to include anything from the other side, writes that the protestors were carrying sighs reading "right to return." Israel has never refused Palestinians the right to entry. There are thousands of Palestinian and Mulsim Arab people living and working in Israel every day. Now, if their intention is to enter to inflict harm and blow up stores and busses in them, then that's another story. Then Lucent writes the stupidest line ever: h "ours after the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem, and Israeli soldiers opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators at the border with Gaza." So Israel just opened fire on these poor victims for no reason? How about the fact that they were trying to break down the border wall with the open intention of killing Israeli? What about the fact that they were throwing Molotov cocktails and burning tires over the border while shouting "Death to Israel"? Would you let these ppl in? Israel, like every country on the planet, has a right to decide where they place their embassy (btw, congress approved this move 20 years ago, but no pres until Trump had the courage to finally do it) Why do they have to justify where they place their capital?

Lucente quotes someone saying that Ivanka and Ja red were sipping champagine while Palestinians were being massacred. What farce! Hamas, which controls Gaza, was instructing people (openly on FB), and paying them to go out and injure and kill Israeli's. They even wrote that if someone dies or is hurt to ignore them and just keep on fighting. They have been known to purposely put young children in the front liens to make for a compelling story and photo op-, and you bought it line and sinker.

If you really want to learn about Palestinian history, as Lucente ends off, you cannot. It never existed as a state. Find me 1 Palestian history book written prior to Israel's formation. Better yet? Find me a Palestinian leader or pres., a Palestinian official language or coin? artifact? Nothing exists. Stop believing the propaganda and let Israel do what every other country is allowed to do, defend it's innocent civilians against these people.

jut curious to know why all these Palestinian Bay Ridgers left their wonderful country that they laud about.

Alex Lapin
May 27, 7:27 am

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