Calls grow for Cleveland officials to also recognize Palestinian lives in violence in Israel
A coalition of advocacy groups in Cleveland is demanding that the city also recognizes the violence Palestinians are facing in the Middle East. After the Hamas attacks in Israel over the weekend, the city has seen an outpouring of support for Israel.
More than 1,200 Israelis have been killed since the Hamas attacks last weekend, according to Israeli officials. More than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli forces since the weekend, according to officials in Gaza. The Hamas attacks came after what Palestinians say have been decades of Israeli violence and oppression toward them.
Faten Odeh, the interim executive director of the Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, denounced the violence against innocent Israelis but wanted people to know that Palestinians have been suffering at the hands of Israel for decades. Her late father-in-law was recently oppressed while trying to receive cancer treatment in Palestine, she said.
"Can you imagine? He had to actually ask for permission from his occupiers simply to travel to where he needed to go in Palestine, the country of his birth, simply to receive life-saving treatment," Odeh said.
Odeh called on Cleveland officials to amend their statements in support of Israel to include compassion for Palestinians.
"What is so disheartening to me are the one-sided statements coming out of Cleveland's sports teams, organizations and politicians who have turned a blind eye to the tens of thousands of Palestinians that are living right here in Greater Cleveland," Odeh said.
Abbas Hamideh with Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, asked Clevelanders to also show support for Palestinians.
"I think we want them to view Palestinians as humans," Hamideh said. "We had a county council meeting just yesterday, and the entire county council took a moment of silence for the victims only in Israel, and I think that defeats the purpose at the same time."
The county should also stop buying Israeli bonds, Odeh said.
"This is a entity that oppresses and occupies people," Odeh said, "and that is not what we should be supporting as Americans, as people in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County."
Cleveland Peace Action President Don Bryant urged the United States government to stop the violence.
"We call on the U.S. government to immediately call for a ceasefire along with suspension and eventual withdrawal of military funding to Israel," Bryant said.