Protesters Pack Scudder Plaza in Princeton to Protest War in Gaza


More than 600 people took to the streets of Princeton this afternoon to voice their support for Palestine and protest Israel’s recent military strikes on Gaza. A temporary cease-fire is slated to end late Monday.

Protesters peacefully marched down Nassau Street, and then gathered at the Scudder Plaza in front of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University for a rally. Many of the protestors carried posters calling for peace and freedom for Palestine. The protesters chanted as they marched, shouting slogans like “Free, free Palestine, killing children is a crime”, “Brick by brick, wall by wall, Israeli apartheid must fall” and “Obama, Obama don’t you know, the siege of Gaza has got to go.”

IMG_6380The event, one of the largest protest rallies in Princeton in more than a decade, was organized by Princeton for Palestine, a new group of local academics, students, activists, and community members.

Close to 2,000 Palestinians have been killed – most civilians – and more than 10,000 people have been wounded since the war began July 8, according to United Nations figures. In Israel, 67 people have been killed, all but three soldiers. Israel says the blockade of Gaza is necessary to prevent arms smuggling. Israel is also is demanding that Hamas be disarmed or be prevented from re-arming, something the militant group has rejected.

The march to support Palestine and the Gaza blockade was supported by numerous area groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace, the Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War, the Green Party of New Jersey, Philadelphia Jews for Just Peace, the Christian-Jewish Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, American Muslims for Palestine, the Islamic Society of Central New Jersey, Muslims for Peace, the Princeton University Muslim Life Program, the Princeton Committee on Palestine, and CAIR NJ.

Several members of the group led chants, Occupy Wall Street style, and then half a dozen people gave speeches, including Princeton resident and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, and political scientist and author Norman Finkelstein. 

“We are here to give voice to the voiceless, to the innocent Palestinians who have been displaced,” said one of the chant leaders. “What is happening is Gaza is not justice. It is not a conflict. It is a conquest. The bullets and bombs raining down on the innocent are paid for by U.S. tax dollars — your dollars. Enough is enough. The blockade must come to an end. These are humans. They bleed like we bleed.”

Shadee Elmasry, director of education at the New Brunswick Islamic Center, said the killing of innocent people in Gaza goes against the beliefs of all three Abrahamic religions — Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

“Jerusalem does not belong to any one of the three faiths. It is something we share in common,” Elmary said, accusing some Jewish people of distorting their faith and comparing them to Muslim militants who are distorting the Muslim faith in Iraq.

IMG_6466Kingston resident Sereen Hashem, a local Palestinian-American teacher who just returned from her annual summer trip with her daughter to visit relatives in Palestine, talked about how afraid her daughter was that they were going to be killed while they were there.

“She couldn’t sleep all night, Hashem said. “She was afraid Israel was going to attack. She was traumatized.”

The protesters observed a moment of silence for everyone who has been killed in recent conflicts around the world, and voiced solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Mo.

Finkelstein said in his speech that it is impossible to predict at this point how the conflict in Gaza is going to end.

I’m afraid it’s going to end badly for the people of Gaza,” he said. “But whichever way it ends, if Israel didn’t completely get its way, it really is because of the heroic, the honorable, the dignified, the indomitable people of Gaza.”

“We demand justice for all those who suffer in Gaza and Palestine, ” journalist Chris Hedges said, quoting Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

“Israel has tanks and drones. All we have is our hearts and voices,” he said. “But we will keep working, praying, and protesting.”



  1. Apparently it’s fine for Hamas to send a continuous stream of explosives at civilians. That doesn’t call for any protest by these so-called advocates for peace and justice. They are just biased hypocrites.

    1. Sorry Dewey, but protesting the massacre of over 2,000 civilians and the carpet bombing of Gaza isn’t being a hypocrite, it’s being a human!! Perhaps it would have served you well to attend the rally and listen to academics and scholars that actually have in-depth knowledge of the conflict, so you don’t make these simpleton and cliched statements without knowing the full context.

      1. It’s not that complicated,.Iram. So you’re saying Hamas has not been
        firing rockets at Israeli towns in an effort to kill any residents
        there, including children? You’re saying this is OK?

        1. It’s not ok. Neither is it ok for Israel to bomb children. One wrong does not negate the other. Js

          1. A nation has a right to defend itself from terrorists trying to kill innocent people. Israel shouldn’t defend itself?

              1. You’re just intentionally misrepresenting what’s going on there. Hamas places its weapons within civilian areas putting Palestinians at risk because Hamas doesn’t care. Isreael protects its children – Hamas does not.

                1. Oh Dewey, by now you have spewed out almost all of the regurgitated, spin-doctored statements that are getting really old at this point. I have no problem engaging in a civil discussion with people on this topic, but will waste no more of my time on someone who hasn’t bothered to educate them self regarding this issue.

                  Have a great day!

                  1. And this is why peace is just a dream. Education means being open-minded to the facts as the rest of the world acknowledges they exist. You have some work to do.

                    1. Dewey – You’re missing a huge fact here. Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian land. The world agrees on that, yet Israel has not been bombed by anyone for doing this other than various militia from the Palestinian people. They have gone through every legal channel and argued ad nauseam and despite 46 UN resolutions against Israel, no one has lifted a finger. So it’s up to people like Hamas to be the resistance against the continued expansion of illegal settlements and the dehumanization of innocent Palestinians. Israel needs to remove those illegal settlements and then they wouldn’t be in any danger. It is Israel that is using their second class imported citizens as human shields and then claiming self defense as an excuse to murder thousands of people. The numbers speak for themselves. Hamas has killed nearly 70 Israeli’s – all but 3 are soldiers. Israel has killed 2000 – 75% of those are civilians and 50% are children. Who is being careful to not harm civilians ? Gaza is a small slither of land. The Palestinians are not allowed to have an army, navy or airforce. So where do you think they are going to put their weapons ? Do you think they have room to build a base or an airstrip?

                      At the core of this is OCCUPATION and ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS. Get out of Gaza, get out of the West Bank, Get out of Jerusalem, and Israel will have nothing to fear. But that’s not what they want. They want it all, and Israel and the US Zionists are continuing to stoke this fire until there are no Palestinians left. the world is wiser now and this will not happen.

            1. So the new euphemism for killing 2,000 innocent civilians, with a good number of them being children, is “defending itself”. Wow!

              1. You have an agenda and are being intentionally obtuse. You know Israel is not trying to kill children. It is trying to stop the terrorists and their weapons that are trying to kill Israeli children Those Hamas “men” place themselves and their weapons among those children – like cowards, they hide behind those children and don’t care if they die. If Israel doesn’t stop them, its own children are killed. The choice is obvious to anyone willing to see.

        2. This protest was about Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment against the civilian population of Gaza with its sophisticated weaponry, not sparing hospitals, ambulances, 6 UN schools where people were seeking shelter because they were fleeing from their homes to escape IDF’s onslaught, as well as countless civilian infrastructure.

          1. Why aren’t you protesting Hamas’ indiscriminate bombing of civilians? Why aren’t you protesting Hamas’ placement of weapons within those “hospitals, ambulances, 6 UN schools where people were seeking shelter.” Hamas has no regard for its own people and sacrifices them for political gains. Why aren’t you protesting this? I don’t wnat to see innocents die but Hamas started a war – this is what happens.

  2. What the reporter should be asking is how can so many children be so misinformed about what’s happening in the middle east? Princeton Teachers say they want a raise, given the geopolitical, historical ignorance of so many of the youth I encounter in Princeton, I’d say whatever we are currently paying them is too much.

  3. In addition to “Pulitizer Prize winning journalist,” Chris Hedges has added a new honorific: “Serial plagiarist.”

  4. Palestinians, for all practical purposes, are in giant prisons or reservations. Their ability to travel, to work and to live decent lives is restricted and ham strung by Israel. Israel constructs new settlements that gobbles up more Palestinian territory. Israel has a right to exist but what about the Palestinians. I would agree that Palestinians would be better served by peaceful protests, not firing rockets into Israel. Violence begets violence, peaceful protest would be the way to go even given the horrible conditions under which the Palestinians have to live because of Israeli policies. Sadly, the rabid Palestinian haters are not even willing to admit that Palestinians are humans; the Palestinians are the subject people or virtually occupied people not the Israelis. I certainly do NOT condone the violence, terrorism or hate mongering of Muslim extremist groups.

  5. Excellent coverage of this rally, thank you. The energy was electric. A start of things to come in Princeton as the movement for Palestinian self-determination grows around the country.

  6. 3,000 rockets shot into Israeli territory BEFORE war even began;
    The use of building materials to build . . .
    Tunnels built to send terrorists to kill and kidnap Israeli citizens (as opposed to shelters);
    Teaching their children to kill all the Jews;
    Suppression, punishment and death to any citizen that disagrees with them;
    . .
    That is the record of Hamas-led Gaza.
    Israel are more than happy to let Palestinian-Arabs (Jordan, etc) live in peace, when they allow Israel to live in peace.

    1. Doug – Let’s be frank here. the rockets are a symbolic resistance only and as the numbers prove, have caused no actual physical harm. They are a response to an 8 year siege that Gaza has been under, and add to that a 50 year illegal occupation and a continued settlement expansion that has eaten most all of a viable contiguous Palestinian State. Stealing someone’s land, disregarding International Law, locking 1.8 million into a concentration camp (yes it is, and Holocaust victims can relate to this, and thousands of Holocaust survivors and families have protested this treatment of Palestinians), placing volatile imported Israeli citizens right next to Palestinian towns, destroying their trees, crops and demolishing their homes – This is how Israel shows that she wants peace. Who are you trying to fool ?

      Let’s turn the tables and look at Israel’s policies:

      500,000 tons of munitions dropped from air, sea and land during Operation Protective Edge…

      The use of any material on earth to build more weapons of mass destruction….

      F16s, Apache Helicopters, Abrams tanks, Howitzers built to kill Palestinian civilians….

      Demolishing entire towns and forceful eviction of complete families….

      Teaching Israeli kids that all Arabs should die..(yes I’ve witnessed it and it’s evident to the rest of the world)…

      An apartheid state that completely dehumanizes Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims & Christians and mandates that no rights be given to anyone other than Jews…

      This is the record of the Jewish state of Israel over 60 years.

      131 UN resolutions passed against Israel and no one has bombed them.

      2 resolutions passed against Iraq, and the country gets invaded on fake evidence of WMDs.

      You tell me why the Palestinians should have any confidence in the UN working this out? What would you do if someone came in and divided your land into quarters and gave you one quarter, whilst people from all around Europe started arriving by the boat load and taking your house?

    2. Perhaps the solution (sort of “final” don’t you know?) would be for all the Jews in Israel to “go back to where they came from” as Helen Thomas helpfully suggested?

      There are many Palestinian Arabs who live in Jordan, which was created at the same time as Israel, but it’s just too convenient to blame “the Jews” (otherwise known as the Zionists) who had been living in the Middle East for a long, long time as the source of Palestinian Arab’s plight.

      Hence the fortress mentality of Israel that refuses to accept that Hamas’ rockets are simply “symbolic resistance” when we read over and over again, that Hamas wants to kill every Jew in Palestine . . . and if a a couple thousand of their children have to die protecting their weapons, so be it.

      Per Indian television:


      1. Doug – You can bring in whatever quotes you want, it doesn’t change the fact. Not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews. Lord Rothschild persuaded Lord Balfour to help carry out the Zionist Agenda (see Theodor Herzl) to create a Jewish State and with continued acts of terrorism against the British forces by The Stern Gang (many future Israeli PMs were part of this), they went ahead and unilaterally drew up partition plans of Palestine. The maps clearly shows the outcome. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians Arabs were forced to leave and driven out by ethnic cleansing and terrorism by the newly arriving Jews from Europe. So how could they have been there “for a long, long time”? The indigenous Arabs are semites and have been their for thousands of years. At some point, they may have been pagan, Jews, Christians and eventually Muslims. Israeli policies of dehumanization of indigenous Palestinian Arabs (Christians and Muslims), continued expansion of ILLEGAL settlements and annexation of Arab land has been the MO of Zionists since the beginning.

        FYI – HAMAS is a by product of Israeli policies. If 60 years of legal struggle is ignored in the League/United Nations, some extremists are likely to garner support as 3 generations of Palestinians see their land stolen and rights stripped. What would you do?

        Please don’t twist the facts – it’s well documented, and no matter what the Zionist controlled media tell us, the rest of the world knows how we have been put in this situation. Zionist agenda is to continue to change laws to favor them, control the media and spew out lies to change history. In doing so, they have endangered the world population and divided countries, cultures, religions and people who have lived in harmony for millennia.

        This issue needs to be resolved immediately and the US and Israel have proven they are not capable of this as they have dragged it out and created conflict for 60 years. The US needs it’s UN veto stripped (as do the other 4 members) and a real World Democracy needs to come up with a far and viable plan. The US has used it’s veto 79 times with more than 40 to protect Israel. How is that being an honest broker?

  7. To hold a rally against Israel without including facts and figures on Hamas terrorism is irresponsible. Arguments that their endless stream of rockets fired indiscriminately at civilian populations (without warnings, one should add) is not really harmful is absurd. Without Iron Dome, these missiles would have found their deadly targets. You are not furthering the search for peace (or at least, compromise), if you refuse to air Hamas’ dirty laundry in the process.

    1. The Palestinians (and the world) has given more than warnings. In fact UN resolutions have been passed dozens of times documenting Israel’s flagrant theft of Palestinian land. What more of a “warning” do they need? Get out of occupied lands, move back to Israeli land and you will not be harmed. Since the UN has been blackmailed by the US to do nothing, it’s up to a militia to fight for their rights. Showing a symbolic resistance by firing homemade fireworks into illegally occupied settlements is all they can do. What would you do after 60 years of this? I don’t think you would last a month or two if someone came and stole your house and your garden, then “gave you the garden shed” to live in but didn’t let you leave without going through a checkpoint. If you decided to throw a rock out of the shed, you would be labelled a troublemaker and would have your shed reduce to rubble.

      Facts and figures about how these poor people are standing up and fighting a super power isn’t going to bring peace. Accepting the injustice that has been placed on these people through now fault of their own, and finding a REAL solution is the only path to peace. Off course the war mongers do not want this which is why there is perpetual and continued antagonizing.

  8. The people of Gaza had the opportunity to improve their lives when Israel took an enormous national risk by entirely withdrawing from Gaza several years ago. Instead, Gazans opted for a radical Islamic jihadist group, Hamas, to control their destiny, which has been plagued by nothing but war, destruction, poverty, and misery. It could have been much different for Gaza, but they made their decision. The Charter of Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel, the expulsion of Jews from Israel, and the rule of Islam throughout the area. Those who continue to deny that Hamas murders its own children by forcing them into known targets do not want to recognize the truth. From many of these pro-Islamic jihadist comments, it is clear that Hamas supporters either do not want to know the truth about Hamas or they are deliberately attempting to deceive the American public about the fundamental evil of Hamas.

    1. Or perhaps the “Pro-Palestinians” don’t really think Israel should exist at all?

      I am 95% against Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but, Hamas wasn’t really fighting against those were they? I won’t hold my breath waiting for these ISIS-brethren (that almost the entire Arab world has turned their backs on) to negotiate a mutually a beneficial peace.

      Tragic that so many of their children had to die, but that’s a key part of Hamas’ agenda, yes?

      1. Jim: Israelis have the right to live anywhere in Israel, including the so-called “West Bank” which they won from Jordan in 1967. Are you an American? How many children had to die in Dresden and in Hiroshima so that you and your family don’t have to speak German or Japanese? On what Native American tribal land is your home? The Lenape?

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