The demonstrators broke the peace in downtown Princeton on Sunday, May 20. Around 60 people marched through the streets on May 14, chanting the names of the 62 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. The tragedy coincided with the move from the US Embassy in Jerusalem and marks the bloodiest day in the Gaza Strip since 2014. May 14 also marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel, a historic holiday for Israelis and a catastrophe for Palestinians. The "funeral march" organized by the Jewish Voice for Peace ̵
The march began at 3:30 pm at Hinds Plaza, winding its way through downtown Princeton, rested briefly at Palmer Square, before passing the FitzRandolph Gate to Thomas Sweets and back to Hinds Plaza. All along, protesters sang the names of the 62 slain, including Laila Anwar Al-Ghandoor, an 8-month-old baby. The names were occasionally sung with songs of "Why did they die?" What have you done? What was her crime? They were Palestinians! That was her crime!
Professor Mark Taylor, who teaches Christian theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, waved the Palestinian flag before the procession, explaining the importance of keeping the memory of the massacred Palestinians alive.
"I understand that this event is about remembering and not letting the witnesses and protest of the 60+ Palestinians die. "" They are not terrorists. They are people in an external prison. They are locked up.
He said that while many Christians uncritically support Israel, there are others like Him who insist on speaking out, noting that many people of different faiths – Jews, Muslims, Christians and non-religious people – are joining the rally were present.
The May 14 protests in Gaza were part of a larger six-week series of protests called the "Great March of Return". The protests began on March 30 in memory of the Diet, when in 1976 six Arab citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli troops for protesting against the confiscation of their country. The protests were to culminate on May 15, the 70th anniversary of the Nakba – which means "catastrophe" in Arabic. They refer to the eviction of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948 to found the Israeli state. Jewish Voice for Peace executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson described the massacre on May 14 as part of a "running nakba" in a statement released on the same day. Today, there are more than 5 million Palestinian refugees – defined as displaced Palestinians and their descendants in 1948.
Tzvia Thier, a 74-year-old Israeli-American organizer who fled with her family to Israel at the age of six War II War II, has been active in the Jewish voice for peace in recent years. The National Left Activist Organization focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and supports an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. It supports, inter alia, the Palestinian "right of return". All people, whether they identify as Jewish or not, are welcome in the organization.
"I want people to understand what's really going on," she said. "First and foremost, there is no conflict, conflict is between two equal parties, they are not equal parties, there is the oppressor and the oppressed."
Thier talked about how the current situation in Palestine is the result of profound bias. She said that growing up in Israel meant she was constantly exposed to anti-Arab ideology.
"The indoctrination is so deep," said Thier. "I'm not surprised that most Israelis just do not care [Arabs] .I know what I've been told, I'm told that Arabs are primitive and cruel, they want to throw us into the sea."
Thier's girlfriend Amala Awad, a Palestinian, read the names of the 62 defeated and in Arabic during the march.
Awad said she was happy that the march had made people aware of the plight of the Palestinians since the US Embassy moved to Jerusalem. However, she said she believed that the violence was part of a prolonged massacre of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers in response to the Great Return March.
Awad explained that the protest is an exercise of freedom and privilege that is not granted to the Palestinians. 19659003] "We are here because we can talk," she said. "Over there, when people protest, they're shot and we could get a counter-protest here."
The chants were also led by two little boys, brothers aged 12 and 8, who were brought to protest by their father were. Her young voices pierced the air and her cries of "Free Palestine!" And "Free Gaza!" Walked quite far and reached inquisitive spectators.
Some passers-by who had not heard of the march before were well-intentioned. An elderly woman said that although she would not join the demonstrators, she agreed that the Palestinians were in a tragic situation. University students who passed the march said that this is in contrast to pro-Israel activism on campus.
Students involved in pro-Palestinian activism on campus told how their work is a tough fight.
As Sarah Sakha & # 39; 18 The former editor-in-chief of the Daily Princetonians, who for the first time had heard of the rising death toll in Gaza since March 30, felt numb, she said. Unarmed Palestinians who died in the hands of Israeli Army soldiers heard them all too often, and she found that the people who drew attention to the subject were the same ones who had always cared.
Mohamed El-Dirany & # 39; 18 The former President of the Princeton Committee for Palestine was not surprised when he first heard that the residents of Gaza had been massacred by IDF soldiers a few weeks ago.
"It happens all the time and people ignore it," he told the "Prince."
"Working with the Israeli-Palestinian legal profession means getting used to people who die from innocent Palestinians and do not care."  Even outside of Princeton, it can be difficult to feel the Palestinian struggle close to home, familiar and urgent, Sacha said.
"There is a world gone, there is physical distance, there is cultural distance," she said. "We can not imagine living in the largest open-air prison in the world that is Gaza."
Despite the feeling of hopelessness that can accompany Israel-Palestine activism, members of the Princeton community said they were "marched" by the "mourners" of the Jewish Voice for Peace.
Lamar Fair, a manager at a nearby restaurant who attended the rally, liked the educational nature of the march
"People do not know what's going on in the world." he said. "I'm the kind of person who is researching, so if I look at it now, I'll probably go online and research more about these issues."
Yeou-Shiuh Hsu, one of the organizers of the march, emphasized the importance of this Let's not just educate ourselves about Palestinian oppression, but also demand responsibility from the US government for helping them give Israel. He said that Mercer County was giving over $ 7 million to Israel in 2018, based on statistics from the US campaign for Palestinian rights.
About a dozen university students took part in the march. Nicky Steidel, a member of Princeton Young Democratic Socialists, described his reaction to the events of May 14.
"I'm here because the massacre of innocent people is absolutely unscrupulous, and it's even more ruthless when it's literally people trying to escape the world's largest concentration camp," said Steidel. "Literally 97 percent of the water is poisoned," he said with statistics confirmed by reports from a hydrologist advising the Palestinian Water Authority.
"UN human rights records report that Gaza is literally unstoppable to its standards," said Steidel
Families were present along with demonstrators and students. A middle-aged couple, Mohammed and Azmina Salyani, brought their three daughters on the march. As a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace, Mohammed arrived after receiving an e-mail, thinking that the march was something the family could do together.
As observant Muslims, they fasted for the month of Ramadan and were particularly upset to see Muslims die during the holy month.
"It's time for them to enjoy this month and not worry about being bombed or killed next," Azmina said. "We are in solidarity with the Palestinians."
Hsu ended the march by requesting demonstrators to believe in the power of organizing and education.
"One person tells a person and that person tells another person," he said. "So we will talk about Gaza, each of us can be an educator in this matter."