FARGO — A crowd of roughly 400-500 people gathered in support of Palestine at Fargo City Hall on Sunday, Nov.12 at 3 p.m.
The mood was generally lighthearted, children laughed and ran around while demonstrators spoke with each other as they congregated in the grassy area between the parking lot and city hall.
A prepared statement was given to The Concordian, regarding the purpose of those who were attending the demonstration.
“Today I stand in solidarity with the victims of 75 years of violent Israeli occupation. I am using my voice to join a movement of hundreds of thousands of people across the world to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Over 10,000 innocent civilians have been slaughtered by the IDF over the past month in the name of Israel ‘fighting terrorism’. These acts of bombing hospitals, churches and schools do not fight terrorism. These are acts of terrorism themselves. We in the Western world have too often allowed genocide to be carried out under our noses, so it is time for change. I call for my local and state representatives to support bills such as H.R. 3103, H.Res 388, and H.Res 786. I hope that soon from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean sea, Palestine and its people will finally be free.”
House of Representatives bill 3103 is an act that was introduced on May 5, titled “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act”.
House resolution 388 is a resolution introduced on May 10, titled “Recognizing the ongoing Nakba and Palestine Refugee Rights”.
House resolution 786 was introduced on Oct. 16, titled “Calling for an immediate deescalation and cease-fire in Israel and occupied Palestine”.
Some attendees also individually voiced their support for Palestine.
“My compassion is with the people who are suffering so much of late, listening to the news items about the children who are dying,” retired Catholic priest, Duane Pribula said. “I understand that those who are deeply involved are saying that we need to help the Palestinian people who are scattered between Gaza and West Bank to have a national identity.”
Demonstrators present at the assembly seemed to have a cohesive idea of why they were there, condemning the violence committed by the Israeli government and calling for a ceasefire.
“Ceasefire. That’s the minimum. Get the innocent people to a safe place where they can have a decent life, water, healthcare, food, the basics things for life. That is the minimum we are asking for,” said Shadi Alian, who was attending the demonstration with his wife and two children.
“(My hope is) that there is a ceasefire and the U.S. stops sending aid to Israel,” said Kelsey, a social worker.
“I’m protesting for Palestine, with all the death, all the dead children and genocide happening there. All the innocent people that are dying. It’s just sad seeing all these people losing their homes, their kids, their families,” Alian. said
At roughly 3:30 p.m., a total of eight speakers took turns addressing the crowd.
Some opted to not disclose their name while others provided a first name only.
The crowd was solemn when they gave their attention to speakers, yet were energetic during calls to action.
One speaker told the crowd that members of her family had been killed at the hands of the Israeli government back in Oct., and she spoke regarding both her family and the countless others that have been killed.
“They are not numbers, these were not nameless individuals,” she said.
One speaker likened the ongoing struggle that many Palestinians face to Native Americans facing American colonialism.
“Native people and nations face the same settler colonial violence that has descended upon our Palestinian relatives,” said another of the speakers.
Another speaker spoke to the demonstrators about the issue of medical aid to Palestinians hurt by Israeli missiles. She introduced herself as Amira, an occupational therapist.
“Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have had to ration their medical supplies because the humanitarian aid that’s coming in is very light and the aid that does come in is very close to its expiration date,” Amira said.
“At the bare minimum, ceasefire now,” Amira said, as she concluded her speech amid cheers of support.
Fanan Nizam, diversity, equity and inclusion lead commissioner at Concordia, also spoke. She condemned United States tax dollars being used to supply aid to Israel.
“Blood from the genocide of Palestinians. Funded by American taxpayer money. We say, not in our name. We call representatives to say, not in our name, we boycott to say, not in our name,” Nizam said.
Nizam also argued that neutrality on this issue is comparable to siding with the Israeli government.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you are taking the side of the oppressor,” Nizam said.
The last speaker addressed the crowd with a rousing call to action.
“We know that president Biden and congress are feeling our pressure. They fear that we won’t stop. They will call for a ceasefire if we don’t give up, if we keep pushing, keep marching, keep informing. We must keep fighting and showing up for Palestinians. We must continue to fight against the genocide and ethnic cleansing. We must make Israel answer for every war crime they have committed. We must fight against our tax dollars going towards genocide and those war crimes. We must fight against the $14.3 billion dollars that we, the American people, are sending to Israel to exterminate the Palestinian people. We must demand a ceasefire. Ceasefire now,” the speaker said.
The crowd broke into chants of “Ceasefire now.”
After the speakers finished, the crowd was led towards downtown Fargo amid chants of “Free free Palestine”, “Ceasefire now” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
As protestors moved through the streets an unidentified man yelled and made vulgar hand gestures at the demonstrators, as another man on a bicycle did the same.
The crowd walked for about 20 minutes before finishing the demonstration near Fargo City Hall.
At the end of the protest, organizers called for a moment of silence for demonstrators to sit and pray in solidarity.