Organizers from Columbus and the OSU campus communities brought hundreds of protesters to the Ohio Statehouse on Sunday August 18 to show solidarity with the people of Gaza currently under siege by the Israeli Defense Force. The rally brought people from around the state and as far away as Pittsburgh and Kentucky.

Some protesters expressed a general support for the people of Palestine while for others the rally was more personal. Reema Al-Waritat, an organizer with family still in Palestine, spoke about what they have been through: “I stand in front of you today on behalf of my family who resides in Hebron, Palestine. On behalf of my mother, my brothers and my siblings, all of them. I stand in front of you on behalf of my husband who was kidnapped by the Israeli police, excuse me soldiers, brutally beaten and imprisoned for months at a time and starved.”

The rally had many speakers but culminated in not one, but two marches around the Statehouse with Columbus and state police looking on. The march stretched out on the sidewalk nearly a block long and were greeted by cheers and honking horns from passing cars as they orbited the block. Rally organizers were unable to procure a permit to march in the street and were unwilling to pay a sudden $1000 fee for use of the Statehouse grounds.

One speaker linked the Israeli actions against the people of Gaza with police repression of recent protests against the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Pranav Jani, an Ohio State University professor and member of the Palestine Solidarity Group (PSG), was explicit about the links between militarized police at home and military action against a trapped civilian population abroad: “That's why the former police chief of St. Louis County went to Israel to learn from the IDF how to do counter-terrorism tactics.”

Jani continued, “The connections are not just about this as an atrocity, that is an atrocity, we don't like it; Because of the stuff after 9-11, because of the war on terror, it's created a climate for the militarization of police.”

During the nearly 400-strong rally, one demonstrator stated that this was the third such in Columbus and he had missed the proceeding one because he was attending the seventh in another city. Rally organizers vowed to continue their actions as part of a campaign regardless of the outcome or duration of the current Israeli incursion into Gaza. Likening the campaign to one against apartheid in South Africa two decades ago, they plan to work with like-minded people throughout the country and around the world build boycotts in order to politically and economically isolate the Israeli state.