As violence spikes between Israel and Palestine, Grand Rapids group gathers in protest –

Posted By on May 18, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- Protesters in downtown Grand Rapids called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel as the countrys ongoing conflict with Palestine flared into a new round of violence this week.

About 35 people gathered at the corner of Fulton Street and Division Avenue for a protest called Free Palestine: Stop U.S. Aid to Israel.

They hope to raise awareness about the conflict and Israels occupation of Palestinian areas, considered illegal by many. They say Palestinians are suffering disproportionately to any loss by the Israelis.

Both the Israelis and Hamas, the leadership in Gaza, have traded artillery strikes in recent days. But the Israeli technology is more advanced and, so far, a reported 119 Palestinians in Gaza, including 30 children, have been killed. Eight Israelis have died in rocket attacks.

In 2020 the United States provided $3.8 billion to Israel, according to a memo from the Congressional Research Service, which accounts for about 20 percent of the countrys defense budget.

Barbara Howard, an organizer of Saturdays event, said the aid is simply not acceptable and described Israels actions as war crimes.

We are resisting because its our tax dollars that are doing this, she said. We send so much aid to Israel.

Were here to say were not in favor of this and that people should not just blow it off or ignore it, because it is our doing. We are complicit, she said.

Saturdays gathering included several people with Palestinian ties. A 30-year-old man and his mother, who immigrated to the United States from Palestine, showed up.

I think the biggest misconception is that, when people pay attention to these things, they pay attention to these flare-ups and they think this is the point of when the conflict started. But the conflict has been going on for the last 73 years, said the 30-year-old, who didnt want to be named for fear of retribution if he travels to Palestine.

The latest violence, by most accounts, was exacerbated by an ongoing attempt to evict seven Palestinian families from an East Jerusalem neighborhood.

Howard said that after she scheduled Saturdays event on social media, Grand Rapids area people with Palestinian backgrounds contacted her, saying they wanted to attend.

She said it was good for them to be visible at the protest.

They are our neighbors here in Grand Rapids and around the world, she said.

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As violence spikes between Israel and Palestine, Grand Rapids group gathers in protest -

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