Edit: The history of Israel and Palestine is wrought with conflict and varying accounts of major historical events. To read more about the basics and learn about recent clashes, check out Vox’s guide to understanding the issues here.
ITHACA, N.Y. — In the Ithaca Commons Tuesday afternoon, activists erected three six-foot tall panels made of fencing and cardboard, spray painted to represent the barricades that divide Palestinians and Israelis. Attendees posted the names and ages of those killed within the past few weeks in the Gaza Strip, along with a Palestinian flag on the wall. People placed rocks at the base of the panels in the Jewish tradition of memorial.
The gathering, which was planned since last week, coincided with the day after the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Israel’s 70th anniversary. Palestinians call the day “Nakba”, meaning “catastrophe”, and remember how 700,000 Palestinians were uprooted when Israel became a country, creating a refugee and humanitarian crisis that is still not resolved.
About 60 miles from where officials, including Ivanka Trump, celebrated the opening of the embassy, at least 6o people were killed in border protests, making it the deadliest day in Gaza since the 2014 war with Israel.
“The intention of the event (in Ithaca) is to call attention to what’s happening in Israel with the ongoing blockade of Gaza, the oppression to Palestinians, and U.S. complicity with the Israeli military and political actions,” said Deirdre Silverman, who is a part of The Jewish Voice/Ithaca Committee for Justice in Palestine.
She said that as a Jewish woman she and others want to stand in solidarity to say that the actions of the Israeli government are not representative of all Jewish people.
“Not in my name,” she, and others, said at the gathering.
Beth Harris, who is on the national board for Jewish Voice for Peace, said, “Our Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have nothing to say about these atrocities. The slaughter of Palestinians and U.S. support for these war crimes has to stop and a first step is to demand our senators join senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Patrick Leahy in speaking out against this killing and maiming of Palestinians.”
She and others called for the U.S. government to stop providing resources to Israel, whose army, Harris said, is committing war crimes.
A woman named Amal, who is Palestinian, tearfully spoke at the microphone about the abuses against Palestinians. She requested that her last name not be used because she is going back home in a few weeks and fears for her safety.
Amal addressed a crowd of more than 50 people, saying that the youngest of the people killed was an eight-month-old baby girl named Laila Anwar al-Ghandour. Gaza’s Ministry of Health has said that the baby died of tear-gas inhalation.
After the gathering, she said that the deaths in the Gaza Strip were not about the embassy and to say so is a mischaracterization of events.
“It’s about human rights. It’s about dignity. It’s about human movement,” she said.
Related: Laila Anwar al-Ghandour becomes the face of Gaza carnage
Featured photo: M. Zaman Marwat, Imam/Director of the Islamic Center in Horseheads, speaks during a public gathering Tuesday. Activist and Cornell Professor Russell Rickford stand in solidarity with him, also joined by Amal. (Photo by Jolene Almendarez/The Ithaca Voice)
More than 50 people attended a public gathering Tuesday in the Ithaca Commons to recognize Palestinians who’ve been killed in the Gaza Strip over the past few weeks and publicly call for government condemnation of Israel’s actions. Photos by Jolene Almendarez/The Ithaca Voice