Over the past two weeks, the Carleton Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a progressive student organization, organized three rallies downtown in support of Palestine. A rapid response rally on Wednesday, May 12, and a larger rally on Saturday, May 15 showed solidarity for Palestinians in the face of recent intense escalations of violence in the region. A third rally was held on Saturday, May 22, according to DSA’s Facebook page.
DSA coordinated the rallies with the local group Northfielders for Justice in Palestine, drawing support from some St. Olaf students, Northfield residents, and a broad coalition of Carleton student groups, such as Divest Carleton and the Indigenous Peoples Alliance.
“People are rightfully very angry about this,” said Henry Brown ’21, a leader of DSA, noting higher-than-expected turnout for the protests.
Brown said that protesters stood against what they see as “wave after wave of mass repression that is aimed toward wiping out [Palestinian] people and replacing them with settlers.”
May 15 was the anniversary of the Nakba (the Arabic word for catastrophe), the day marking the beginning of Palestinians’ violent and permanent displacement from the region during the foundation of the State of Israel in the 1940s, when over 700,000 Palestinians lost their homes, Brown explained.
“The really horrifying thing is that, on this anniversary of Nakba, we see that it’s never really ended; it just keeps going and going and going.”
Brown does not agree with characterizations of the violence as Israeli-Palestinian conflict because of the power imbalance between the two groups. “You really just can’t compare the two sides here. One is trying to wipe out the other,” he said.
DSA encourages more students to get involved as a matter of responsibility.
“The rights of Palestinians are intrinsically linked to the rights of other colonized people in the world, so you can’t believe in one struggle and not another. It really is all connected,” said Brown.
Nina Denne, another leader of DSA, said she did not get involved with the issue for a long time, in part because it is portrayed as a really complicated conflict in the media.
“What helped me understand better is that it’s fundamentally a conflict between a colonizer and an oppressed group of Palestinian people, and that’s very clear—from the numbers of deaths that we’re seeing, from the numbers of injuries that we’re seeing. That’s been true for as long as this has been going on, and I think that helped me put the issue in perspective,” she said.
DSA hopes the rallies will encourage students to pressure Congresswoman Angie Craig to support bill HR2590, which has a stated goal of “promot[ing] and protect[ing] the human rights of Palestinians” by limiting uses of U.S funding by the Israeli government.
Update: May 23, 2021 — this article has been updated from the version that appeared in our May 21 print edition with the new context that the May 22 rally has already occurred.