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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Thousands of Protestors March for Palestine in Forest Hills

Protesters march on Connecticut Avenue on March 2 in support of Palestine in the war between Israel and Hamas. Typically protests occur in downtown D.C., but this was an unusual occurrence as it was closer to the Israeli Embassy and Israeli Ambassador’s Residence. (Naomi Breuer/International Dateline)

A giant Palestinian flag hangs over the crowd as they make their way up Connecticut Avenue. A person with a loudspeaker on a truck leads a chant. Two men stand on the sidewalk selling T-shirts reading, “Free Palestine.” Two people dressed in traditional Orthodox Jewish attire stand on top of a bus stop with a sign declaring, “Judaism condemns the state of ‘Israel’ and its atrocities.” Drums echo through the residential streets of Northwest D.C. 

Typically, protests in D.C. take place on the National Mall or in front of the White House. But on March 2, thousands of people gathered at 1 p.m. in front of the Embassy of Israel in the Forest Hills neighborhood of D.C., a largely residential area, and marched their way to the residence of the Israeli Ambassador. Called the “Millions March For Palestine,” members of the D.C. community and elsewhere protested for the end of the war between Israel and Hamas, and Israel’s violence against the Palestinian people since Oct. 7, 2023. 

“Every day [that] there isn’t a ceasefire is another person dying,” protestor Zahra Malek, 25, said. 

Malek expressed frustration at siding with Israel as to not seem anti-Semitic. 

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“Being anti-Zionism is not being anti-Semitic,” she said. “That’s the biggest argument that everyone uses, and that’s the biggest narrative that we have to dissolve.”

Protestors waving Palestinian flags in support of Palestine in the war between Israel and Hamas. (Naomi Breuer/International Dateline)

Malek came to D.C. from New York specifically for the protest. She believes President Joe Biden is not doing enough to help the people of Gaza. 

“They’re eating animal grain while he’s just enjoying ice cream like, ‘Oh yeah we might have a ceasefire,’” she said. “The depravity of that is insane.”

Malek says the protest in D.C. is much less “chaotic” than the ones she has attended in New York City and the police are much less intimidating. 

“I feel more safe here than at the New York protests, but it’s the same level of solidarity and love and activism,” she said. 

Hunter, 28, who did not share a last name for privacy reasons, described the mood of the protest as “somber” due to the thoughts of the “abject horror of genocide” and “violence of U.S. imperialism” hanging over people’s heads. They also expressed frustration about the U.S.’s lack of care for Aaron Bushnell’s death. Bushnell set himself on fire in protest of Israel on Feb. 25. They were very heartened to be around others who care about the same issues. 

“I feel like, through everything that is going on, it’s really important to be in community with other folks who are committed to a radically different vision of the kind of world that we could have,” they said.

Natalie Boland, 30, believes the U.S. needs to take more action to stop the violence in Gaza. She says that the Flower Massacre and the death of Aaron Bushnell sparked the March 2 protest. 

“This has really come to an unbelievable point,” she said. “The violence and the level of death, destruction and suffering that is happening in that region is just unspeakable. It’s completely atrocious.” 

Boland believes that the events in Palestine are just as relevant to people in the U.S. 

“We’re not going to stop until we free Palestine because all of our freedom is dependent on their freedom,” she said. “None of us are free unless they’re free.”

Protestors on top of a bus stop on Connecticut Avenue during the “Millions March For Palestine” protest on March 2. People dressed in traditional Orthodox Jewish attire carry pro-Palestinian signs. (Naomi Breuer/International Dateline)

Hunter said holding the protest in Forest Hills is extremely valuable. 

“We have the opportunity to spread out the locus of protest and reach residential areas and people who maybe aren’t immersed in what is going on,” they said. “[We can] force people to disrupt their day-to-day life and to really let the pain and the hurt sink in, because that is what will radicalize people.”

Norman, 26, who did not wish to disclose his surname for privacy reasons, also found the location of the protest powerful. He has been to several protests in D.C. since the war began but says the experience was different this time as a result of the location. 

“I think it’s great that it’s in a different location, closer to the Israeli Embassy,” he said. “I think that sends a powerful message.”

Protests are important to build communities and coalitions, as well as to educate people about current societal problems, according to Hunter. 

“Even though this is an issue of global importance, it’s also a local and community-based issue,” they said.

Boland found the speakers at the start of the protest especially moving. She says that protesting is crucial at this time. 

“I’m here as a human being along with the rest of human nature to say that no matter whose children they are, their lives matter,” Boland said. 

By Naomi Breuer

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About the Contributor
Naomi Breuer
Naomi Breuer, Editor-in-Chief
I am Editor-in-Chief of Dateline this year. As a junior last year, I was a Publications Editor and Middle School News Advisor. As a sophomore, I was WIS News Editor, and Arts Editor as a freshman. Other than Dateline, I enjoy baking, playing guitar, biking and participating in Model UN.

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