Last week Palestine made the news in more ways than one. On Thursday, David Friedman’s controversial confirmation hearing took place in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Ever since Trump announced his selection of Friedman as new US Ambassador to Israel, there has been constant and significant, and completely warranted, backlash from the pro-Palestinian and anti-Occupation movements. Friedman’s positions not only represent an extreme far right wing approach to Israel/Palestine, but also alienates so many of us who are on the left, Palestinian-American, or simply advocates for human rights. Additionally, there has been a noticeable rift within the Jewish community surrounding Friedman. Despite the horrific effect Friedman’s appointment would have on the Palestinian people, the silver lining here is the clear sense of solidarity that goes beyond differences in religion, gender, or background.
Friedman’s confirmation began with excitement. Several activists, not just one or two, stood up in protest with signs, wearing t-shirts and holding Palestinian flags while loudly exclaiming Freidman’s anti-Palestinian views and how he doesn’t represent them. These protesters were Palestinians, Jewish Americans and members of other groups coming out to oppose the appointment. These groups included the American Muslims for Palestine, Code Pink and a Jewish group called IfNotNow. Known as a left-wing anti-Occupation group, IfNotNow members disrupted Friedman’s opening remarks by blowing a horn, singing Jewish songs of peace and adding their own perspective to the shouting. Here is a quick video clip showing this part of the protest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcezeSIGnXI
All I have to say is….wow.
Standing up for the rights of others, of men and women in the US and Israel/Palestine who will be negatively affected by Friedman’s right-wing policies, of Palestinians – and doing so in such a public way – is so impressive and something to be admired. Capitol Police arrested six people after escorting them from the room for protesting. We have seen the protests on the streets and on campus across the country, but this takes it to a new level. Though they may not stop the confirmation, these actions show the Senate, the public, and perhaps most importantly, David Friedman, that there are voices to be heard that cannot be ignored.
So, what’s next? How will this confirmation affect those of us here in the US – Arab-Americans, Palestinian-Americans, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, White Americans – and what does this mean for our brothers and sisters over in Palestine? Will our voices continue to be shut out so we can no longer express our feelings, our concern, our discontent over what is happening? NO. We must find new ways to protest, new ways to resist, new ways to stand in solidarity side-by-side to fight for what is right!
Here are some of the many articles I found covering the protests and hearing:
- Another video showing more of the protest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je4KAJh906s
- American Muslims for Palestine: http://www.ampalestine.org/newsroom/amp-staffers-arrested-protesting-david-friedman%E2%80%99s-hearing-at-senate-foreign-relations
- Vox overview: http://www.vox.com/world/2017/2/16/14640558/trump-ambassador-israel-david-friedman-controversy-kapo-jews-anti-semitism
- Mondoweiss overview: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/02/exciting-disruptions-friedman/
- CNN overview: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/16/politics/david-friedman-trump-israel-ambassador-confirmation-hearing/
- Protests from Washington DC to Tel Aviv: https://972mag.com/taking-protests-to-the-frontline-in-the-u-s-and-israel-palestine/125323/