NYC for Palestine, October 20 2023

Scenes from a major march and action for Palestine. Thousands of New Yorkers joined together at a rally organized by NYC-DSA and allies to demand an immediate cease-fire. One hundred and thirty six marchers were arrested.


On Friday October 20, NYC-DSA helped organize a massive coalition rally calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, and an end to Israeli occupation, involving 15 partner organizations, including anti-zionist Jewish groups, Muslim organizations, Palestinian organizations, union reform groups, and other community and social justice organizations. Several thousand attendees joined a rally, which featured NYC-DSA electeds alongside coalition partner speakers who spoke to the crowd from the steps of the New York Public Library, before marching down 3rd Avenue to Senator Gilibrand and Schumer’s offices. As we marched, many onlookers honked in support and some even joined the march. Marchers demanded a cease-fire and an end to U.S. funding of Israeli apartheid and genocide. New York State Assemblymember and DSA elected Zohran Mamdani encouraged participants to continue their involvement in the movement by joining DSA and other movement organizations, and to get involved in organizing for the long haul. Over 130 marchers then sat down in the street in an act of civil disobedience and were arrested. As the rain poured down and we were loaded into police vans, NYC-DSA member and Palestinian organizer Sumaya Awad spoke movingly about how “we’re out here in the pouring rain, but Israel has blood on their hands.”

As we were processed through jail, comrades were able to mingle between different groups that turned out, from Bangladeshi comrades who have been fighting the U.S. war machine for years, to Palestinian comrades, to union organizers, to Jewish anti-zionists, to recently-politicized marchers who joined the action on the spot. The person I was jailed with spoke of how she decided to participate in the civil disobedience action spontaneously, having been inspired by her friend in Jewish Voice for Peace who was arrested in DC earlier this week.

The media coverage of the rally has overall been overwhelmingly accurate and favorable so far, focusing on our cease-fire demand, which 66% of the American public supports, as well as our aim to bring about peace by ending US funding to the Israeli military and occupation. This is remarkable because only two weeks prior, DSA was rabidly attacked and falsely slandered by the media and a swath of NY elected officials including NYC Mayor Eric Adams for being “antisemitic” for retweeting a rally calling to defend Palestine. This demonstrates a swing in public opinion away from Israel towards Palestine, as well as the power and importance of DSA organizing coalition events with a clear strategic goal, comms guidelines, and aligned coalition partners. The demand for a cease-fire is urgent and majoritarian, making it a strong immediate demand. We can connect that demand to the need for an end to Israeli apartheid and occupation as a whole. 

The international left urgently needs to build a mass movement to end the war and occupation in Palestine. DSA has a crucial role to play in helping to build that movement in the US, as we have a clear strategic political vision, a large bench of experienced organizers and committed elected officials, and a wide membership that bridges the different anti-zionist organizations on the left, from Jewish organizations to Muslim and Palestinian ones. The rally on Friday shows that DSA is already stepping up to carry out this urgent task.

Elliot Lewis is a UPS driver and a member of Teamsters Local 804. He serves on the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission Steering Committee and the NYC-DSA Labor Branch OC and is a member of DSA's Bread & Roses caucus.