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Indybay Feature

“Palestinian Embassy” Participates in Passport DC

by Phil Pasquini
This year a Pop-up Palestinian Culture Street Fest/protest was held at the Embassy of Palestine on a crowded public sidewalk directly across the street from the Israeli Embassy. Today’s event included passport stamping, along with Palestinian arts, crafts and fashions for sale, free Palestinian food samples, as well as children’s activities and numerous protest signs and banners. Included, too, were handouts with information about Israel’s genocide taking place in Gaza
This year a Pop-up Palestinian Culture Street Fest/protest was held at the Embassy of Palestine on a crowded public sidewalk directly acr...
WASHINGTON (05-04) – One of the most popular and anticipated annual events in Washington is Passport DC when embassies in the city open their doors to the public for one day to showcase their country’s food, arts, fashion, travel opportunities and culture. Many participants obtain special “passports” to be stamped at each embassy they visit and lines to enter the normally closed buildings are often long as crowds across the city and region descend on Embassy Row.

This year a Pop-up Palestinian Culture Street Fest/protest was held at the Embassy of Palestine on a crowded public sidewalk directly across the street from the Israeli Embassy. Today’s event included passport stamping, along with Palestinian arts, crafts and fashions for sale, free Palestinian food samples, as well as children’s activities and numerous protest signs and banners. Included, too, were handouts with information about Israel’s genocide taking place in Gaza.

In a show of solidarity with Israel, a counter demonstration was taking place on the busy thoroughfare utilizing a billboard truck that passes by every few minutes displaying signage and photos while broadcasting soundbites regarding Hamas’ attack against Israel on October 7th. Periodically the truck was followed by a Range Rover sporting Israeli and U.S. flags.

Activists moved to this location two weeks ago after their peaceful protest “Kibbutz Israel,” a 24/7 action in front of the Israeli Embassy, was shut down by METRO D.C. police and federal law enforcement. Two weeks into that protest, the Israeli Embassy created a wall by parking four large U-Haul trucks along the curb and draping them with large Israeli flags to cover the demonstrators’ presence. On the 54th day of the protest encampment, police suddenly appeared without any notification or written documentation ordering the protesters to move immediately or face arrest.

The protesters then moved their action to the sidewalk across the street where today’s Passport DC Street Fest took place. According to one participant, the new location cannot be occupied 24 hours a day necessitating activists to disassemble and reassemble their action daily.

In responding to that unwarranted action, CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) issued the following statement: “We call on local and federal law enforcement to explain and reverse their unjustified, unconstitutional decision to ban peaceful protests outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. The American people have a constitutional right to peacefully assemble, and it is completely unacceptable to treat the public streets outside the Israeli embassy as if the First Amendment somehow does not apply there. The systematic attempts to silence peaceful anti-war protesters across our nation, from the embassy to college campuses, must end.”

In addition to the Palestinian Embassy, student encampments and protests at local colleges and daily actions and demonstrations across the city, activists have also maintained a peace encampment vigil outside the home of Secretary of State Antony Blinken in McLean, Virginia for the past 100 days, all to end to the bombing and killing in Gaza and the establishment of an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

The handout activists provided interested passersby regarding the genocide in Gaza simply says “Many people are rightly calling the 1,000 Israeli lives lost on 7 October what it is - an unacceptable tragedy. We ask now: how many Palestinian lives are also an unacceptable tragedy?” And they are reminding people that “The U.S. is funding, supporting and enabling war crimes with YOUR tax dollars. Please help us stop this injustice.”

Report and photos by Phil Pasquini

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