Protesters call on Biden to ‘defund Israel’ during visit to Ford’s Dearborn plant

Under a park pavilion not far from the auto plant where President Joe Biden tested the new Ford F150 electric pickup truck in Dearborn while refusing to answer questions about Israel On Tuesday, nearly 300 pro-Palestinian protesters chanted and marched.

Biden was the center of Ford’s red electric vehicle talking about the electric vehicle’s impressive acceleration. A few miles away, Sahar Faraj, a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement from Detroit, called the president a “Zionist pig” as she spoke to a crowd about the news that his administration was approving a $ 735 million in arms sales in Israel, where fighting with the Palestinians in Jerusalem, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza continues.

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At a nearby picnic table, dressed in a peach-colored scarf, Safa Abufarha, 57, spoke about her cousin, who is treating a gunshot wound to her leg that he recently suffered during an encounter with Israeli police in the West Bank.

Abufarha moved to the United States in her late twenties and now lives in West Bloomfield. She still has daily contact with relatives living in Palestine.

“My grandparents on my father’s side, they were expelled from Palestine in 1967,” Abufarha said. “So they went to Jordan.

Israel forced an estimated 300,000 Palestinian refugees from their homes in 1967 following the Six Day War during what is known as the Palestinian exodus.

“They left everything behind,” said Abufarha. “They left all their land. They left all their things. They just walked with nothing.

Abufarha said she did not tolerate violence on either side, but felt there was no comparison between Israel’s military might and Hamas “homemade missiles”.

“Speaking to my friends who have relatives in Gaza, they tell them that they have nowhere to hide,” Abufarha said. “Everything was bombed. Mosques have been shelled, churches have been shelled, hospitals have been shelled, homes have been shelled, schools have been shelled.

“I’m here because I don’t want my taxes used to bomb innocent civilians. Hope our voice is heard, I hope this stops and we will continue to do this until something happens.

Having received nearly $ 150 billion in economic and military aid since 1947, Israel has been the largest recipient of US foreign aid since World War II, according to Congressional Research Service, which provides non-partisan analysis to members of Congress.

Israel was due to receive nearly $ 3.8 billion in military funding and missile defense assistance in the last year of President Donald Trump’s administration. After taking office, the Biden administration announced in April its intention to restore nearly $ 235 million of the $ 350 million in aid to Palestinians who were cut off under Trump. Two-thirds should go to UN agency helping Palestinian refugees, the BBC reported.

Many pro-Palestinian attendees at Tuesday’s rally in Dearborn hope the government will stop funding what they perceive to be unbalanced Israeli military attacks on Palestinians.

The United States has repeatedly blocked UN resolutions expressing concern over civilian casualties in Gaza and calling for a ceasefire, but Biden on Monday expressed support for a ceasefire during the ‘an appeal to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the Associated Press.

According to a May 15 New York Times report, the death toll had reached at least 222. Israeli airstrikes killed 212 people in Gaza and Hamas rocket fire killed 10 in Israel. There have been 20 more Palestinian killings in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and two Israelis have died as a result of civil unrest in Israel, the New York Times Reports.

Biden during his speech at the Ford plant acknowledged US Representative Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, who spoke out against the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and what she calls apartheid in the Palestinian territories. Tlaib is a daughter of Palestinian immigrants.

“I admire your intellect, I admire your passion, and I admire your concern for so many other people,” Biden said, addressing Tlaib during the speech.

“And it is with my heart that I pray that your grandmother and your family will be well. I promise you that I will see everything to see that they are, in the West Bank. You are a fighter and God thanks you for being a fighter.

Tuesday’s protest also involved activists calling on Biden to stop funding Saudi military attacks on Yemen.

As the crowd of several hundred turned towards a street near the park where the march had started, dozens of Yemeni and Palestinian flags fluttered along the sidewalk. An American flag hung from a large flag pole within a yard of it hovered in the air above.

“Abolish Israeli apartheid”, “Defeat Israel”, “End the blockade of Yemen” and “Don’t do to them what Hitler did to you”, read some of the signs as the drums beat and the rally chanted in unison:, Free Palestine. “

Nadiya Ramlawi, 49, from Ann Arbor, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee, attends a pro-Palestine protest in Dearborn on May 18, 2021.

Nadiya Ramlawi, 49, of Ann Arbor is also the product of the Palestinian exodus of 1967. Her father was born in East Jerusalem and said he had to flee villages and live in refugee camps before he left. settling in the United States in the 1960s, settling in Westland.

She remembers growing up in the United States during the Iranian hostage crisis and being called a “n **** r” and a “camel jockey”. People were “so angry with the Arabs,” she said. The racist bullying was so persistent that she once asked her father if the family could move out.

“He was like, ‘Hey, stay strong,’” Ramlawi said. “Where I come from, my elementary school has exploded. No, I’m not going to leave my house.

Ramlawi’s parents opened the Jerusalem Garden restaurant in Ann Arbor in the 1980s. It remains open and family-owned today.

His father’s family had strong ties to Jerusalem, Ramlawi said. They operated a butcher, hairdresser, and grocery store, “but it all disappeared” when Israel was formed in 1947 and the Palestinians were forced to leave their homes.

“It’s genocide,” Ramwali said of what she sees happening even today. “I mean these are kids who just live in poverty.

“The American needs the money. We don’t need to send it there, just to have links to the Middle East. “

Ramwali said many of the people she associates with either don’t quite understand what’s going on between Palestine and Israel or just don’t care to speak up.

“All you have to do is see the map and how much Israel has taken over,” she said, “how big was the map in 1948 and how small it is today.

“They can’t even work. There is no water. It’s just war-torn year after year.

While many protesters were adamant that they would continue to do what they can to influence change, they also seemed unsure of the impact their voice would have on multinational politics with billions of dollars at stake.

Ghadah Mozeb, a 20-year-old from Hamtramck of Yemeni descent who has attended three pro-Palestinian rallies in Dearborn since Saturday, said the US government was responsible for many deaths in Yemen and Palestine.

“It’s not just spectators,” she said. “They really participate in what is happening and fund it.

“And the fact that taxpayers fund that makes it worse, because we’re on this earth, so we can’t really not pay taxes.” So what can we do? “

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