Major turnout expected for Saturday march in Washington against Israel's 'genocide' of Gaza

Major turnout expected for Saturday march in Washington against Israel's 'genocide' of Gaza
A march in support of Palestinians in Washington, DC this weekend is expected to draw around 100,000 nearly a month after a surprise attack by Hamas, which Israel has responded to with continuous airstrikes on Gaza.
3 min read
Washington, D.C.
03 November, 2023
A Jewish-led demonstration in support of Gazans on 16 October in front of the White House. [Brooke Anderson/The New Arab]

A march in support of Palestinians in downtown Washington, DC, this weekend is expected to draw around 100,000 nearly a month after a surprise attack by Hamas on Israel on 7 October, killing around 1,400 Israelis, followed by continuous Israeli airstrikes, killing about 9,000 Palestinians in Gaza.

"We expect it to be the largest demonstration for Palestine in US history," Walter Smolarek, media coordinator for ANSWER Coalition (which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), a protest umbrella group, told The New Arab.

"The movement has been massive. It will easily be in excess of 100,000. We have buses coming in from all over the country -- Florida, Chicago, Detroit," he said, adding that more than 200 organisations have endorsed the march and other similar demonstrations will be taking place around the world on the same day.

The White House has firmly stood by Israel since the beginning of the conflict, with US President Joe Biden requesting a massive aid package that would include around US$14 billion in funding for Israel (the US already sends around US$4 billion in aid to Israel in addition to about US$1 billion for its Iron Dome missile defence system).

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Israel and the US are facing growing criticism from human rights advocates around the world, who are calling for a ceasefire and are raising concerns over a genocide from Israel's military assault and from Gaza largely being cut off from food supplies and basic services. 

"We will be directing our demands against Israel and the Biden administration," said Smolarek. The main demand will be for a ceasefire, which, so far, few US elected officials have supported.

Since the outbreak of the conflict, activists urging for a ceasefire have staged sit-ins in lawmakers' offices and major public spaces, including the Capitol Rotunda and Grand Central Station in New York City, resulting in more than a thousand arrests.

Some of the main organisers of these demonstrations to date have been from progressive Jewish groups, who have said they don't want harm to Palestinians to be done in their names. In addition to Ceasefire Now. Now in Our Name has been a common slogan at the demonstrations over the last month.

Many critics of the recent wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations have called activists demonstrating for Gaza antisemitic, despite much of the movement being Jewish-led, and despite multiple studies finding that most antisemitism, as well as Islamophobia, come from the right wing of the political spectrum. 

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It has recently been reported that neo-Nazi groups have been trying to infiltrate and hijack pro-Palestinian demonstrations to drum up antisemitic conspiracy theories. Smolarek said they will be "absolutely unwelcome."

The range of representation on Saturday will include artists, musicians, and healthcare workers (in support of the depleted healthcare resources in Gaza), in addition to the progressive Palestinian and Jewish groups that have been leading the demonstrations since the beginning of the conflict. 

Demonstrators will meet at Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington, DC, at 2 p.m. on Saturday.