Hundreds of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators are expected at a march in Washington, D.C. on Saturday at 1p.m.; among them will be many Massachusetts residents who say they’re hoping to send a message to politicians in the nation’s capitol.
Nabeel Khudairi of Malden is planning to be there, and he said he feels that “we have to put a stop to American support for the Israeli atrocities [in Gaza].”
"I feel that standing out there ... I’m basically doing my part to honor these poor victims and to make it known that I am one out of many, many, I'd say even millions of people who have a lot of frustration and disappointment that [the Biden] administration is not helping the Palestinians get reprieve,” Khudairi said.
Organizers of the march say they expect it to be the largest pro-Palestinian event in the U.S. since the war in Gaza began in October.
Among the organizers is the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. The executive director of CAIR Massachusetts, Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, says she believes at least 400 people from around the state are traveling to Washington, D.C. for the march.
“What I'm seeing and hearing from the community is that there's both a dual sense of this feeling of helplessness and this feeling of empowerment,” Amatul-Wadud said. “The sense of helplessness comes from watching the social media accounts of the brave men and women who are reporting on and being killed in Gaza, and feeling like we live a world away and we can't stop it, that each and every day you will see some very graphic demonstration of death and dismemberment and brutality and not feeling that you can do anything about it.”
Amatul-Wadud said CAIR is calling for “a permanent, immediate ceasefire.”
Lauren Colodny of Somerville says they’re going to the march; he’s an activist with the Boston chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a progressive anti-Zionist group.
"Speaking as a proud and practicing American Jew, we know what it's like to face genocidal violence, to face ethnic cleansing, these massive systems of oppression,” Colodny said. “And, I think I, like many others, was taught growing up, never again, never again will we let this kind of violence occur ... So for us as Jews, it is a practice of our principles as a people and as a religious group, that we not in our names, allow these horrific acts of violence to go on.”
Amatul-Wadud said she thinks Massachusetts community members attending Saturday’s march in Washington will come back energized.
“The beauty of being in community is that it inspires and motivates us. That is also a prophetic teaching in Islam,” said Amatul-Wadud. “We had a staff meeting the other day, and we talked about the fact that we anticipate getting more calls next week once people return from D.C., because we anticipate they'll want to do more actions, they'll want more legislative advocacy. They'll ask us about volunteering with us. They will be continuing to make demands to move the needle on what's happening in Palestine.”