May 21, 2021 By Allie Griffin
A large crowd is expected to turn out in Sunnyside Saturday for a pro-Palestinian rally that comes after nearly two weeks of conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas.
The rally is being organized by Within Our Lifetime (WOL), a Palestinian-led, New York City-based group that put together a similar protest in Bay Ridge last week that drew thousands.
The event will take place following a cease-fire that went into effect Friday and was brokered by Egypt. The halt to hostilities comes after more than 230 Palestinians — including over 60 children — have been killed in Israeli airstrikes and 12 Israelis killed in rocket attacks launched by Hamas, the New York Times reported.
The Israeli airstrikes have also left thousands of Gazans without a place to live, and critics of Israel say its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank needs to end.
Meanwhile, pro-Israel supporters argue that the Israeli government is just defending its people from Hamas, which it deems a terrorist organization whose goal is to destroy Israel. Hamas fired 4,000 rockets into civilian areas of Israel.
Nerdeen Kiswani, the Chair and Co-founder of WOL, told the Queens Post that her organization has been flooded with calls from Queens residents calling for a rally in support of Palestine in the borough.
“People have been reaching out to us for a while now from Queens, from Staten Island, from the Bronx asking to bring the Palestinian cause to their neighborhood,” she said. “Especially Queens —the most diverse place in the world — and it’s always been the people of the world who support Palestine, so we know there’ll be massive support for people there.”
WOL is encouraging attendees to come to Sunnyside and bring flags, signs and keffiyehs to the rally at 1 p.m.
🚨NYC ALL OUT FOR PALESTINE🚨THIS SATURDAY 5/22 @ 1:00 PM. QUEENS BLVD AND 46TH STREET, SUNNYSIDE QUEENS! #DefendPalestine #SaveSheikhJarrahh pic.twitter.com/6SZ5sF183W
— Within Our Lifetime (@WOLPalestine) May 17, 2021
Many young, progressive leaders in western Queens have expressed support for the plight of the Palestinians in recent times, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani of Astoria and State Sen. Jessica Ramos of Jackson Heights.
Conversely, support for Israel is stronger among elected officials in central Queens.
A pro-Israel rally was held in Forest Hills last week attended by Council Members Barry Grodenchik, Karen Koslowitz and Jim Gennaro. They urged the public to stand with Israel, and speakers said that Israel has every right to defend itself from the onslaught of indiscriminate rocket attacks aimed at its civilians, reported the Queens Chronicle.
A number of western Queens officials will be attending the Sunnyside rally — dubbed Defend Palestine — Saturday.
Mamdani and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents western Queens, told the Queens Post that they plan to attend. At least five candidates running to represent the 26th Council District said they are going.
Mamdani, who attended the Bay Ridge rally as well as one in Manhattan, said he feels the tide is shifting in favor of the Palestinian cause.
“As somebody who got into organizing because of the issue of Palestinian solidarity, this moment right now feels fundamentally different from any one that I have been a part of in the past,” he said.
The recent uptick in violence in the Middle East — combined with the Black Lives Matter movement last summer — has led many Americans to voice their concerns regarding the Israel Palestine conflict, Mamdani said.
He said that a growing number of people are no longer afraid to speak out against the Israeli government. In the past, he said, people feared that there would be repercussions for doing so.
“Right now, we’re at a moment where that threat of consequence is losing its power,” he said, arguing that people are now speaking up now because there is this “a realization that if we do not speak up, then this will only continue to escalate.”
Mamdani, who is an ardent supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, said the vast majority of his constituents support the movement as well.
Every single one of my constituents that has written to me about Palestine has supported my call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions on Israel.
Every single one.
The tide is turning. The fight for justice is here. The moment is now.
And there’s always room for you to join.
— Zohran Kwame Mamdani (@ZohranKMamdani) May 14, 2021
Some critics and pro-Israel supporters, however, have called the BDS movement anti-Semitic.
Mamdani said that charge is completely inaccurate.
He added that attempts to label BDS or any critique of the Israeli state as anti-Semitic are purely a means to silence any criticism.
“I can tell you that as somebody who has advocated for Palestinian rights for many, many years, I am sadly very familiar with this charge because it seeks to conflate any critique of Zionism, with a critique of Judaism,” he said. “And that is not those two things are not the same.”
We pay our electeds with our tax $$$ to represent us but they go on paid-for trips to Israel.
We have 3 letters for them: #BDS
Every elected must be pressured to stand with Palestinians, oppose Apartheid & assert that the fight for dignity knows no exception.#FreePalestine pic.twitter.com/xczCuhTnyn
— Zohran Kwame Mamdani (@ZohranKMamdani) May 12, 2021
Legislators, he said, are also more inclined to speak up on the conflict as well as on the U.S.’s role in aiding Israel.
“For a long time Queens elected officials marched in lockstep with pro-Israel propaganda and that era is over,” he said. “It’s not because we have a new crop of legislators that have their own ideas — it’s because we have legislators who actually reflect the values of their constituencies.”
Ocasio Cortez, whose district includes much of western Queens including Sunnyside, has boldly condemned the Israeli government in a series of tweets over the past two weeks.
Apartheid states aren’t democracies.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 15, 2021
She also introduced a resolution this week to oppose a $735 million sale of American-made weapons to the Israeli government.
A representative for Ocasio-Cortez was unable to confirm on Wednesday whether she would attend the rally.
Meanwhile Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who will be out campaigning Saturday for Queens Borough President, said he would stop by.
Van Bramer said he believes in a two-state solution, and condemned the Israeli government for bombing a building that housed the Associated Press newsroom and apartments.
“Israel and Palestine both have a right to exist and their people deserve to live in safety…,” he said in a statement. “Bombing the building that housed news organizations is wrong. Killing innocent people and dozens of children in Gaza is wrong, and it always will be.”
State Sen. Mike Gianaris and Assembly Member Cathy Nolan — both of whom represent districts in western Queens including Sunnyside — didn’t respond to inquiries asking if they planned to attend the rally.
However, several candidates running for to represent the 26th Council District, will be attending.
Candidate Badrun Khan, a first-generation immigrant and the daughter of Bengali parents, said she plans to attend Saturday and is urging her family and friends to join her.
“I am promoting this event to all my family and friends because I believe this is an important cause,” Khan said in a statement. “I’m glad people are finally starting to take notice of these humanitarian crimes.”
“Hundreds of innocent Palestinians have died, Israel is using our [military] resources to target media outlets, schools, and hospitals,” Khan said. “We know this is wrong and we must stand for justice. We have a responsibility to protect human rights.”
Amit Bagga, who is also running to represent the 26th Council District, said that he will participate in the rally Saturday. He issued a statement about the conflict.
“Both things can be true: Israel has a right to exist, and the Israeli State’s occupation of the Palestinian people has never made it safer,” he said. “Israel’s only path to the peace and security is to comply with the legally binding U.N. Article 242 of 1967 (which led to its own peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan), and to end the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank immediately.”
Candidates Jonathan Bailey, Emily Sharpe and Steven Raga also confirmed that they planned to attend.
Raga, who lived in the Middle East in 2009, said he saw the devastation in Palestine firsthand while there.
“The images and videos coming out of Palestine have been heartbreaking,” he told the Queens Post. “I’m glad we have this opportunity to demonstrate our solidarity for the people of Palestine right here in Queens.”
Typical liberal, socialist SUNNYSIDE Post. Nothing about the anti-Semitic hatred from the Arabs. Hey Murray do you even know what a Jew is?
Hey Joe, you must be new here you obviously haven;t seen SSP other articles on anti semtism neither do you know that the person your speaking to is jewish or has jewish family. I also wouldn’t consider Sunnyside Post to be in the liberal or socialist category. HAhaha
FYI: I think he does. https://sunnysidepost.com/sunnyside-kids-bar-mitzvah-project-brings-detroit-and-new-york-little-league-teams-together-for-big-game
Sunnyside Post is liberal???????? Far from it!
This isn’t a ‘conflict’ as both sides are not equal with equal power and weapons. One is the oppressor. The other is being oppressed. And it’s not Israel vs Hamas. It’s Palestinians vs their oppressors fighting for their LIVES. Hamas just happens to be only group stepping up. Whether the Palestinians like it or not. And many do not.
Close to a thousand were gathered but the main stream media showed a 2 second clip of it without interviewing anyone. We all know who runs the main stream media.
Oh is it the jooooooos whom you hate so much ? Nice hate fest you had
Wow, we all know anti-Semitic comments when we read them.
I’ll try posting again, since my comment about Asli’s quote “we all know who runs the main stream media” was not posted before. We all know an anti-Semitic comment when we read it. Enough!
This will be a deciding factor of how certain minority groups vote for local offices. Very smart move by the organizers and attendees running for office.
The rally was a huge success,
I have never been prouder of my fellow Queensites.
From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free!
I’m embarrassed to live in queens where people call for the extermination of the Jews
Mamdani is a disgrace
Much love to the thousands of people that came!
I will have my popcorn ready.
There are five good pics posted of the anti-Semitic attackers from the Times Square attack. Won’t be long before they are arrested for hate crimes.
I am sure it will be “peaceful.” Pro Palestinian supporters are the majority in our districts.
Everything you need to know about Palestinians can be learned from watching them celebrate in the streets during 9/11.
Absolutely. They danced with delight while Americans were pulverized to bits and incinerated by jet fuel. For that alone I can never support them.
Wrong those were the Saudis not Palestinians.
And their anti-Semitic comments.
I wonder if the group Within Our Lifetime is referring to a Palestinian state within our lifetime. Well not unless you’re a vampire. Get it!
Take your rally and all these wannabe politicians some where else. Like in front of the un. I work hard and like to relax at the weekend. Take that middle east drama away.
There is a cease fire in place, and we don’t need a protest here to escalate tensions and whip up more anti-Semitic violence like this week’s attack in Times Square.
Jewish lives matter
I wish for peace, both in the Middle East and in Sunnyside.
Sen. Mike Gianaris and Assembly Member Cathy Nolan might end up attending. Or at least they should tweet something about supporting Palestinians. There districts are full of Muslims and the way to win an election is to find a commonality that will get people to vote for you that typically do not vote or scatter their votes among candidates. Yangs polling numbers dropped significantly after he was confronted by pro Palestinian supporters at Astoria park and did condone the Israelis missile attacks.
Yay for people of color, communities of color and anything else of color. Teslas for everyone. The hell with paying back student loans or rent. More unemployment and welfare benefits!
I’m sure there will be people speaking up for both sides of the conflict here, but I’m disgusted how gutless the defenders of Israel are.
There will be people on the streets in Sunnyside advocating for the destruction of Israel by terrorist organizations, and no organization is sending counter-protestors, or even speaking up. This is a city with the largest population of people claiming Jewish heritage…
This is how this country will become a communist police state, through the activism of loud minority and silence from the majority who hold opposite views but are too chicken to voice them. This is exactly how AOC with her radical views got elected in our own backyard, through indifference of the majority and rabid support from the tiny sliver of activists.
This is asking for trouble, and for no good reason. A rally in Queens isn’t going to have an effect on Middle East policies.
AOC really has liberals in her grasp. They will do anything she says.
When you launch rockets at a country, expect a military response.
Imagine some puny guy in a bar deliberately tosses his beer on some burly, six foot, muscle-bound dude and then wonders why the big fella punches his lights out.
Disgusting and violent supporters of Hamas who scream “death to the Jews” and hunt down Jews in Manhattan; now they want to do it in Queens and Van Bramer, Sharpe, et al and the Mamdani character from Astoria have no problem with that; after all, weren’t we told that “words lead to violence”. Hating on the Jews chic in Queens
Wow. I was going to vote for Emily Sharpe, but not anymore.
I guess pandering little Jimmy is not looking for Jewish votes.
Now I know how not to vote for; these guys support Hamas. It is disgusting and I hope the police protect our Jewish citizens and houses of worship. shame on Jimmy Van Bramer!