WASHINGTON – More than 1,000 people rallied Saturday in Washington in support of Palestinians and called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel.
The demonstration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial came as a cease-fire that ended 11 days of intense fighting between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip has held.
“We are hoping to send a clear message to the United States government that the days of supporting the Israeli state without repercussions are over,” one of the demonstrators, 39-year-old Washington lawyer Sharif Silmi, said as he stood in the crowd where many protesters held red, white, green and black Palestinian flags.
“We will stand against any politician that continues to fund weapons to Israel. We will oppose them, we will vote against them, we will fund their opponents, until we vote them out of office,” Silmi said.
Lama Alahmad, a resident of neighboring Virginia who is of Palestinian origin, said that U.S. public opinion is turning in favor of the Palestinian cause.
“There is a huge change” going on in the U.S. with regard to the Palestinian cause to secure a sovereign homeland, Alahmad said.
“We just want the world to recognize that we are human beings. We are not terrorists,” said Alahmad, a 43-year-old stay-at-home mother who grew up in the United Arab Emirates before moving to the U.S. about 20 years ago.
Silmi insisted there was growing opposition in the U.S. to how Israel treats the Palestinians, which he likened to apartheid in South Africa.
“People have now woken up, and we’re resisting. Whether young Jews, young Muslims, young Blacks, young whites, there is a generational shift. And people are working across ethnic groups, racial groups, to work for change and freedom and liberation for Palestinian people,” Silmi said.