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Protestors return to the streets to demand San Antonio pass Gaza ceasefire resolution

Protestors march through the street holding signs calling to end border walls in the U.S. and Palestine, and condemning the U.S. for its complicity in the death of thousands of children in Gaza.
Josh Peck
Protestors marched in the downtown streets of San Antonio on Saturday to demand the city council pass a ceasefire resolution.

More than 150 protestors rallied and marched in downtown San Antonio on Saturday in front of the Bexar County Courthouse. Protestors demanded that the city council pass a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and for Mayor Ron Nirenberg to end San Antonio’s friendship city status with Tel Aviv.

The Israeli military has killed more than 15,000 people in Gaza in less than two months, the majority of whom have been women and children. The assault began after Hamas killed 1,200 people in Israel on Oct. 7, the majority of whom were also civilians.

San Antonio for Justice in Palestine (SAJP), Jewish Voice for Peace, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the UTSA Muslim Student Association, and Students for Justice in Palestine co-hosted the protest.

Moureen Kaki, the founder of SAJP, explained to the crowd why they were there.

“We are here to hold our elected officials accountable for their complicity in genocide,” she said. “It’s that simple.”

Moureen Kaki stands on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse speaking to protestors.
Josh Peck
Moureen Kaki speaking to protestors in front of the Bexar County Courthouse on Saturday.

Kaki said public pressure has worked on other elected officials, and it will eventually work on city council and Nirenberg.

“They are already moving. We have moved [Congressman] Joaquin Castro, we have moved [Congressman] Lloyd Doggett, we have moved District 1 [Councilwoman Sukh Kaur],” she said. “We have the power in our voices as long as we refuse to relent. And as long as Palestinians in Gaza can hold up their dead children to the world and tell them that they’re still here despite that, despite 1.7 million being displaced, despite thousands killed, we can also continue to stand.”

She said people need to keep showing up at city council’s weekly Wednesday public comment sessions, where residents have spoken directly to council demanding that they call for a ceasefire and end San Antonio’s friendship city status with Tel Aviv, and where Palestinian Americans have described the loss of their loved ones in Gaza.

After Kaki’s speech ended, she walked to Judith Norman, the chief organizer for the San Antonio chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. Norman, who is Jewish and a member of SAJP, spoke at the rally before Kaki.

“We are essential here,” Norman said. “Our actions matter, and if the violence in Palestine has been unprecedented, so has been our response.”

The protest was also advertised as a call to boycott. Norman said in an interview before the protest that they wanted to reiterate their public support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, also known as BDS, despite the fact that it has been denigrated by politicians in both major political parties as an antisemitic or counter-productive campaign.

Judith Norman speaks to the crowd of protestors in front of the Bexar County Courthouse on Saturday.
Josh Peck
Judith Norman speaks to protestors on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse on Saturday.

“I think that there’s been so much propaganda and spin that’s gone on to demonize these perfectly innocent and nonviolent slogans and strategies,” she said. “I mean, boycott was a respectable nonviolent strategy that was used against the apartheid regime in South Africa. And BDS is a movement that’s taken explicitly from the success of boycott strategies on South Africa.”

The BDS movement calls on the global public to boycott specific companies it says are supporting the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, like the hummus company Sabra, the sneaker brand Puma, and the computer company Hewlett-Packard, also known as HP.

The ultimate goal of the movement is to pressure the Israeli government to end what BDS supporters say is an apartheid system under which Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens.

Norman said that when states like Texas or national congressional bodies legislate against BDS, they are making the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories worse.

“I think that cutting off avenues for nonviolent resistance is an absolute disaster,” she said. “And it helps give comfort and aid and cover to violent resistors.”

Kaki and other protestors said the stakes are too high for them to stop.

“As long as Palestinians in Gaza can hold their dead children up to the world and tell them that they’re still here despite that, despite 1.7 million being displaced, despite thousands killed, we can also continue to stand,” Kaki said.

Nirenberg and the majority of city council have continued to resist protestors’ demands. After the most recent public comment session on Wednesday, his spokesperson said the mayor stood by his previous comments that rejected the demand to end the Tel Aviv relationship and which lacked a call for a ceasefire.

City councils in Seattle, Detroit, Oakland, and other U.S. cities have passed ceasefire resolutions in recent weeks.

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