Photos by Kamal Moon

Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine members Yaman Othman and Hana Masri led chants at WCJP’s Hands Off Rafah rally, part of Milwaukee’s Day of Action for Palestine.

“The United States is not complicit in this genocide; we are responsible for this genocide,” State Rep. Ryan Clancy (D-Milwaukee) told hundreds gathered Saturday, March 2, the Global Day of Action for Palestine, at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, 4707 S. 13th St. “We cannot stand back and be disappointed in Netanyahu or the Israeli government and continue to send them billions of dollars of aid.”

Following the rally, more than 1,000 protestors marched down South 13th Street, chanting, beating drums, carrying banners and signs, and waving large red, green and black Palestinian flags. The Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine organized a banner drop, the rally and march, and participated in an International Women’s Day event to mark the second Global Day of Action for Palestine, joining hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of people around the world calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and a free Palestine.

Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine formed Oct. 8 in response to Israel’s military assault in Gaza. Today 63 organizations have joined to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

This second Global Day of Action for Palestine carried a “Hands Off Rafah” theme, as Israel threatens to escalate attacks on the southern Gaza city where displaced Palestinians have gathered. Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to resist international pressure “to stall an attack on … Rafah and will continue its bloody offensive against Hamas,” The Guardian reported yesterday. Talks for a ceasefire during Ramadan appear to have broken down, the article said.

“As one of the very few elected officials who has been to Gaza,” Rep. Clancy said, “I’ve come to understand … this is not a war on Hamas. This is a war on the Palestinian people. This is not a conflict. This is not a war between equal parties. This is a genocide and this genocide did not start on Oct. 7. This is a genocide that has happened for three-quarters of a century and it needs to end now.”

Frustration with the Biden administration’s military support of Israel at the cost of tens of thousands of Palestinian lives showed in banners and chants on Milwaukee’s Day of Action for Palestine.

“Already we have more than 50,000 (Palestinians) killed and missing, 75% women and children,” Janan Najeeb, founder of the Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine told the crowd at Saturday’s rally. 

Israel’s War on Gaza began Oct. 8, triggered by an Oct. 7 surprise attack by the armed wing of Hamas in which about 1,200 people were killed. Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007 and since then Israel has maintained a siege on the small strip of land, trapping 2.3 million Palestinians. 

Hamas also took 250 hostages Oct. 7, about half of whom were released during a short ceasefire in November.

Rep. Ryan Clancy (D-Milwaukee) isone of the courageous individuals in the State Legislature who refuses to support Israel at all costs,” said Janan Najeeb, founder of the Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine. “He stood for the Palestinian people and joined every march we have had.” 

Protestors at the rally and march demonstrated their defiance of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration’s military support of Israel with chants like “Genocide Joe has got to go!” and “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry. We will never let you die!”

Janan Najeeb, founder and executive director Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, spoke with reporters at the March 2 Hands Off Rafah rally.

“We have to stand for the people of Gaza because … governments around the world … are allowing a genocide to take place before their eyes,” Islamic Society of Milwaukee executive director Othman Atta told the crowd at the rally. “We are going to be the conscience of the world.”

“Israel is a colonial settler state and it does not represent me as a Jewish person or my Judaism,” Lorraine Halinka Malcoe, Ph.D., co-founder of Jewish Voice for Peace-Milwaukee, has said.

“We have the duty, we have the responsibility to stand up as individuals, as organizations and at every level of government to say we will not do this,” Rep. Clancy continued. “We will not allow this to happen in our name.”

Heather and Mohammad Hamad of Brookfield (second row) carry a banner with photographs of family members, including Mohammad’s sister, killed in Gaza by Israeli bombing.

“I am so grateful public opinion finally seems to be changing around this and that 80% of Democrats, 65% of people overall, a plurality of Republicans, nearly a hundred percent of the left are all in favor of a lasting peace,” he said.  “Even the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County just weeks ago in a 35 – 3 vote, said clearly with one voice that they wanted a ceasefire and that they wanted a free Palestine.”

Clancy, who also serves on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, urged the crowd to attend the County’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee meeting this past Monday at the County Courthouse to speak in support of a resolution authored by Supervisors Clancy, Juan Miguel Martinez, Caroline Gómez-Tom and Steve Shea, calling for Milwaukee County “to join the over 100 U.S. municipalities and counties that have finally said, enough is enough. We want a free Palestine now,” he said.

The committee deadlocked Monday in a 2-2 vote over the resolution for a permanent ceasefire in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. With no official recommendation reached, the resolution will advance to the full County Board. It is expected to go before the Board on March 21. 

“We are going to be the conscience of the world,” Islamic Society executive director Othman Atta said Saturday at the rally for Palestine, lamenting the inaction of governments around the world to stand against Israel’s brutal military assault in Gaza.

“The pressing need for de-escalation and humanitarian assistance in this region demands action, and the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors cannot remain silent or impartial any longer,” Clancy wrote in his statement. “This resolution reaffirms the Board’s commitment to advancing peace and justice, and I urge residents to unite with us in solidarity. A cease-fire is imperative to prevent further loss of life and pave the path toward the end of the occupation and a lasting peace.”

In a statement, Clancy encouraged individuals to reach out to their supervisors via phone or email.

Several family members of Mohammad Hamad of Brookfield, including his sister, have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7 by  Israeli bombing.

Jodi Melamed, Ph.D., a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, protests for justice for the Palestinians.


A photo gallery of Milwaukee’s Day of Action for Palestine