On Saturday, November 11th, the Ad-Hoc Coalition for Justice in the Middle East and DRUM (Desis Rising Up & Moving) held a workshop in Manhattan highlighting the parallels between the wall on the US-Mexico border and the Apartheid Wall in Palestine. The workshop was immediately followed by a spirited march through Manhattan with protesters carrying a long black cloth “wall” as they snaked through the crowded New York City streets.
Dena Qaddumi of the Ad Hoc Coalition introduced the workshop by noting that the event was being carried out in conjunction with the International Week Against the Apartheid Wall called by Stop the Wall: Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. She added, “It is wonderful that we can do this event in New York, focusing on the Apartheid Wall in Israel and the border wall between US and Mexico, connecting issues and bringing communities together to create movements that challenge racist policies. Similar events protesting Israel’s Apartheid Wall are happening all over the world this week.”
Fahd Ahmed and Fernando Reals from DRUM provided first-hand accounts of their recent visits to Palestine and Arizona. Their presentations focused on the similar repressive measures adopted by the Israeli and US governments against indigenous peoples, the devastating impacts the walls have on communities, and the forms of resistance that communities adopt to challenge the oppressive measures being utilized against them. Through moving photos from Palestine and Arizona, the DRUM activists showed the links between the struggle for immigrant rights in the US and the struggle for freedom in Palestine, including the common fights against racist travel bans, against militarized borders, and for dignity.
Fernando Reals explained that “migration isn’t only about people coming to places, chasing the American Dream, but it is also about people being pushed out of places.” He also spoke about the Palestinian children he had met during his recent visit, saying that if we possessed the same level of dignity and courage which these children have, we would achieve real strides in challenging racist policies here in the US.
Following the workshop, over 100 people marched around Washington Square Park and through the streets of Greenwich Village in Manhattan carrying two 6 ft. cloth “walls” covered with slogans calling for an end to the Apartheid Walls from Palestine to Mexico. The protesters hampered the normal flow of traffic and attracted a lot of attention with the walls, signs, flyers and chants. The lively chants in Spanish and English included: “From Palestine to Mexico, All the walls have got to go,” and “Bush, Escucha, Estamos en la lucha!!!”
Activists distributed information sheets highlighting some of the connections between the Wall being built by Israel and the Wall proposed in the Security Fence Act 2006 signed by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2006. Since 2002, Israel has been building a 400 mile long Wall that is preventing tens of thousands of Palestinians from reaching their places of work, school, health services, land for farming and sometimes even family members, usurping large tracts of land from the Occupied West Bank in Palestine. The Secure Fence Act signed by Bush authorizes the building of 700 miles of double-layer border wall between the United States and Mexico. Elbit Systems, Ltd., an Israeli company building and profiting from the Wall in occupied Palestine, has been awarded a contract to help build the US wall. The proposed multi-billion dollar U.S. wall will further separate border communities, break apart families, and increase the number of deaths on the border as immigrant workers are pushed deeper into the desert.
To express solidarity with the popular struggles in Palestine and Mexico against racism and state-sponsored violence, the march ended at the memorial service for NYC Indymedia journalist Brad Will who was murdered by government-backed paramilitaries in Oaxaca, Mexico, while he participated in and reported on that struggle for self-determination.
The event was organized by DRUM, Desis Rising Up & Moving, which organizes low-income South Asian immigrants and family to end detention, deportation and policing of immigrant communities, and the Ad-Hoc Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, which is comprised of a number of New York based organizations including The New York Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, Jews Against the Occupation - NYC, International Socialist Organization, Action Wednesdays Against the War, International Solidarity Movement - NYC, Solidarity, Socialist Action, the National Council of Arab-Americans, the Network of Arab-American Professionals of NY-PC, The Queens Anti-War Coalition, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the WESPAC Foundation. The event was endorsed by ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), NYU- Students for Justice in Palestine, United for Justice and Peace (UFPJ) and the Arab Muslim American Federation.