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A speaker at Wednesday’s rally for Palestine in Cadman Plaza Park recites poetry about the tragedy in Gaza. Photo by Mary Frost.

Downtown Brooklyn was awash in a sea of Palestinian flags on Wednesday as activists rallied for Palestine and urged sanctions against Israel.

As hundreds marched over the Brooklyn Bridge, a giant banner in the colors of the Palestinian flag was unfurled over the side of the Manhattan Bridge. The banner read, “Boycott, Divest, Sanction.”

It was later removed. Police told AP that no one was arrested for the display.

The stunt was reminiscent of last month’s Brooklyn Bridge security breech. After German artists scaled the bridge’s cables at night, undetected, and replaced the American flags with hand sewn white flags, security was said to be tightened.

Cadman Plaza Park was the staging area for the pre-march rally, with songs, fiery speeches and poetry readings. Speakers mourned the Palestinians killed in the conflict, and urged the U.S. to boycott, divest and sanction Israel. The crowd chanted “Free, free Palestine!”
Some drew parallels with the “state of siege” in Ferguson, Missouri.”We are here for Palestine, for justice and peace, and to voice our opinion as humanists who happen to be American,” musician Dennis Loh, from Wykcoff, New Jersey told the Brooklyn Eagle. Loh and his son Francis sang “We Shall Overcome.”

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Hundreds rallied for Palestine in Cadman Plaza Park before marching over the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Mary Frost.

“With the Ferguson thing, we were thinking that ‘We Shall Overcome’ is a very appropriate song,” Loh said.

“Enough is enough, it’s been 60 years of occupation. It’s time to really solve this,” added his wife Heide Loh.

A man who just arrived from Gaza told the crowd, “I haven’t seen war like this before. In my neighborhood, they killed 12 people, for no reason. Palestinians in Gaza are looking for your help.”

“There is only one way to end this and that’s through boycott, divestment and sanctions,” said speaker Riham Barghouti. She said sanctions were needed “until Israel ends the occupation and treats all of its Palestinians as equal, and implements the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes.”

Wolf Schwortz, an Orthodox Jew who lives in Brooklyn, told the Eagle, “We are here because we are Jewish, and we came to show our support.

“Traditional Jews have never recognized the state of Israel,” Schwortz said. “According to Judaism we are forbidden to oppress people, we are forbidden to occupy the holy land before the coming of Messiah.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio also came under criticism.

“Mayor de Blasio said his job description is to defend the state of Israel,” said a student speaker. “Our mayor hasn’t spoken a word against the massacre of Palestinians.”

An ad hoc group calling itself New York City Solidarity with Palestine organized the event.

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