On Aug. 2, thousands of Texans gathered in front of the Capitol at the Texas Stands with Gaza protest to speak against the crimes being committed in Gaza. From Dallas and Houston to Corpus Christi and Lubbock, they arrived with a single purpose — to stand with Palestine against Israeli aggression and the massacre of innocent civilians.
Their cause did not discriminate. Sheikh Islam Mossaad, Minister Jim Rigby and Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb each spoke on a single theme — ending Israeli war crimes in Gaza. On July 30, 21 Palestinians who sought safety in a United Nations camp in Jabaliya were killed in a series of air strikes. On Sunday, 10 people were killed by an Israeli missile that ripped through a United Nations safe house for Palestinian civilians in Gaza. So far, 1,822 Palestinians, at least 1,033 of whom were civilians, have been murdered by the Israeli regime in its so-called “pinpoint” operation. The reality that Israeli missile strikes now blatantly target civilians spurred not only the protest here in Austin, but also around the globe.
Protesters carried a sea of posters — with messages ranging from “Palestine will be free” to “End the siege on Gaza” — as they marched from the Capitol to Austin City Hall. Many signs addressed a crucial, and infuriating, topic: U.S. aid to Israel. The billions America is sending to Israel has sparked outrage for multiple reasons. First, for those who stand against the genocide that is currently taking place, watching the U.S. grant Israel access to its “strategic stockpile” of ammunition could only mean one thing: more civilian deaths. And second, for fellow Americans who choose not to pick sides, watching the U.S. sign off on another $225 million to fund Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system while an average of 72,000 Americans are cut off from unemployment insurance prematurely every week is just as enraging.
Frustrated citizens are taking matters into their own hands with the rapidly growing, nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Modeled after the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, BDS is a global initiative established in 2005 that allows “people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.” The strong belief that individuals can effect change has allowed this movement to flourish and continuously expand.
Protests around the world will not stop until Israeli brutality stops. And until the total economic blockade of Gaza is lifted and the Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank are afforded their basic human rights, Texans will continue to support the Palestinian call for BDS and a just peace. No justice, no peace.
Hussein is a neurobiology sophomore from Austin.