Pro-Palestine peace activists protest Joe Biden in Tampa

Free Palestine flag
Free Palestine flag held by protester against Joe Biden in Tampa. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (23 April 2024).

President Joe Biden came to Tampa Tuesday to speak about abortion rights. He spoke at the Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry campus.

On the edge of campus, more than one hundred anti-war demonstrators protested Biden.

They took issue with the Biden administration’s support of Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

They chanted things like “Cease fire now!”

Mari Marks is the policy manager at CAIR Florida.

Ali Abdel-Qader is an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation. PSL’s presidential nominee is Claudia De la Cruz. Video and transcript are below:

Pro-Palestine protesters against Joe Biden in Tampa
Pro-Palestine protesters against Joe Biden in Tampa. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (23 April 2024).
Palestinian flag criticizes Joe Biden
Palestinian flag held by protesters against Joe Biden in Tampa. It reads: “Biden Biden you can’t hide. You signed off on genocide.” By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (23 April 2024).
Pro-Palestine protesters against Joe Biden in Tampa
Pro-Palestine protesters against Joe Biden in Tampa. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (23 April 2024).
Law enforcement at pro-Palestine protest against Joe Biden in Tampa. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (23 April 2024).

Transcript of WMNF’s interview with Ali Abdel-Qader, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation:

“The Party for Socialism and Liberation is a socialist party that stands for a completely new political economic system here in the US. That puts the needs of people over the needs of profit. And we stand for the liberation of all oppressed people around the world. That includes the Palestinian people. We want to see a free Palestine from the river to the sea, and we want to see the US out of the Middle East, we want to see the US out of the global South in general.”

WMNF: A lot of people have criticized the expression you just used, “from the river to the sea.” What’s your response?

“I think that this criticism comes from a place of not understanding. It comes from a place of ignorance.

“First of all, Zionism is an ideology that believes that the land of Palestine, which is a land that was inhabited by the indigenous Palestinian people, belongs entirely to the Jewish people. And it’s not just a pro-Jewish ideology. It’s actually a pro-European-Jewish ideology. Because Ethiopian Jews, Arab Jews are not first-class citizens in Israel.

“So they use the expression “from the river to sea” in a much more sinister way. They want to complete the ethnic cleansing that the State of Israel was founded on. The state of Israel was founded on the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes. Including my family on my dad’s side. My family comes from the village of Ramin, and they fled to Kuwait in 1948, along with 700,000 Palestinians, in what is now known as Israel, but what we refer to as 1948 Palestine. Because before 1948 it was Palestine.

“Now, when we say “from the river to the sea,” what we mean is that we want to see a liberated Palestine.

“We want to see people who were forced out of their homes, who were ethnically cleansed, who still carry the keys to their homes to be able to return.

“This is called antisemitic, out of a misunderstanding of what Zionism is. Anti-Zionists are not anti-Semites, there are many, many, many anti-Zionist Jews. In fact, there are many leading anti-Zionist Jewish organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace. I can’t remember the name of a few other ones, but Jewish Voice for Peace is the main one. There is a large contingent of anti-Zionist Jews.

“We are an indigenous people that is seeking to have our sovereignty restored. That is fundamentally what it is about. And I think that this is kind of erasing the history of the Nakba, erasing the history of the genocide of our people.

“When people say this, conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism is actually very dangerous. Because we have the ADL calling our protests anti-Semitic, calling criticizing Israel, antisemitic. Calling what Israel is doing in Gaza a genocide, antisemitic. And when they do that, they water down actual antisemitism that is happening in this country. Like attacks on synagogues, like attacks on Jewish places of worship. This is antisemitism. This is what we need to all be united against. And we are united against that, absolutely.

But by conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism, you are erasing the Palestinian people, which is the goal of Zionism ultimately. And that’s, that’s not surprising to me. But we have to fight against that.”

WMNF: Why are you here on this corner today?

“We are here because Joe Biden is coming to Tampa. Joe Biden, who has been funding the genocide in Gaza. Who has been arming the Israelis, who has supported them all the way through this process. Joe Biden, who if he wanted to, could — with a stroke of his pen — stop sending weapons to Israel, force Israel to do an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

“He is complicit in this. He is complicit in war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

“All of the tens of thousands of people who have died, the millions who are currently starving in the Gaza Strip, he is complicit in that.

“And now he is coming to Tampa to talk about how he cares about women — about how he cares about women. Give me a break, he does not care about the women in Gaza.

If he thinks that he’s gonna win Florida, while he’s supporting the genocide, he has another thing coming.

“We are here to say, ‘No, genocide. Joe, you’re not welcome here in Tampa, and we’re gonna remind you of that fact, we’re not gonna let you forget it.'”

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