Yesterday’s emergency demonstration for Palestine in Augusta, Maine was transformative. Organized by the Maine chapter of the Party for Socialism & Liberation, it drew 200 people, average age about 30 I’d guess (only a few of us old timers), and about 20% people of color. Many Arabic speaking college students were part of the crowd.
Luke Sekera-Flanders spoke about stolen water rights in Palestine and was brilliant as usual. And an indigenous organizer (I think it was Darren Ranco) spoke about the parallels between dispossession of the Wabanaki people and Palestinian people.
Chanting “Free, free Palestine, long live Palestine” with 200 people is energizing!
One thing I learned from a Palestinian student who spoke is that the kufiyah I’ve been wearing is not Palestinian (it may be Jordanian or Egyptian). Holding up his kufiyah, he explained the iconography (fishing net, the Mediterranean Sea, and the historic role of Palestine as a bridge between Africa and Eurasia). I found a source in the U.S. that partners with organizations in Palestine and have ordered a few.
Why do I say transformative?
I arrived early and tied a banner (seen here in action in Brunswick on Thursday) to the fence. But there were soon so many people gathered that it was no longer visible from the street! To draw a crowd that size outside of Maine’s larger cities and outside of business hours is remarkable. Events supporting Palestine and drawing crowds have now become almost daily occurrences in Portland, but Augusta hasn’t been like that at least in my experience.
This is consistent with what happened at Bowdoin College this week when a Students for Justice in Palestine teach-in drew 300 and had to be moved to a bigger auditorium.
Also consistent with the impactful action by Jewish Voice for Peace in Washington DC where 500 sat in and chanted in the capitol rotunda, many were arrested after failing to disburse, and tens of thousands rallied outside the building in support of their civil disobedience. Read that again: tens of thousands.
Meanwhile comes news that U.S. State department staff is increasingly unhappy with their boss’s unconditional support for Israel’s violent occupation. Some have quit, some are threating to quit, and moral queasiness is spreading through the department like a stain.
Genocide in Gaza will no longer receive the tacit support of young people globally. And its enablers should heed the writing on the wall.
Counterparts in Arab governments are telling State Department officials the U.S. is at risk of losing support in their region for a generation[emphasis mine], a U.S. official told HuffPost.
My generation blew it, but the kids are all right.
If you’re reading this post on the day I published it, Saturday October 21, join us in Skowhegan at 1:30pm today to say:
We’ll be on the Margaret Chase Smith Bridge for an hour, rain or shine.