‘Taking the streets’: Palestine group marches in Bay Ridge following countryside killings

Free Palestine movement in Bay Ridge
Within Our Lifetime took to Brooklyn streets in response to the killing of at least nine Palestinians.
Photo by Leocciano Callao.

A local grassroots organization rallied in Bay Ridge in response to demonstrate against the Israeli military raid that left nine Palestinians dead late last month.

Within our Lifetime (WOL) held the rally last week after the devastation in the Jenin region of Palestine, which the Palestinian government labeled a “massacre,” and led the nation to cut off the already-flimsy security ties with Israel. 

The Israeli government claims the violence began during a raid on Islamic Jihad “terror operatives.” The situation led to Israeli soldiers killing seven gunmen and two civilians, including a 61-year-old woman in the occupied West Bank. 

In 2023 so far, 28 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, while 152 were killed in the West Bank in 2022, according to UN experts.

Nerdeen Kiswani, the chairperson of WOL, led the community in marches down Bay Ridge’s crowded Third Avenue on Jan. 29.

“We know that the recent constant murders really hit home for the Palestinian community that lives in Bay Ridge and we wanted to create an outlet for us to collectively mourn and rage our loved ones being taken away by the Israeli occupation,” Kiswani told Brooklyn Paper. 

Within Our Lifetime is known for sparking conversations about the hot-button issue in Bay Ridge, where an estimated 7,771 people are reported to have Arab ancestry, compared with the 40,577 total in Kings County

Free Palestine rally in Bay Ridge
Families lined the block in protest of killings that took place on Jan.26 in Jenin. Photo courtesy of Within Our Lifetime.

Sunday’s rally started as your typical protest but WOL soon led the group throughout the neighborhood so the community could “hear their call for liberation” of the Palestinian people.

“We are a grassroots community organization dedicated to fighting for the liberation of Palestine and revitalizing the revolutionary spirit of the youths here in exile,” Kiswani said. “To empower them and empower the community to be bold and brave and demand justice and dignity for our people.”

The group stopped by Congress Member Nicole Malliotakis’ office, and recorded a message calling out government leaders for their vocalized support of Israel. 

“We wanted to make it clear that even though she has an office in Bay Ridge and its in her district there are a lot of people in Bay Ridge particularly the Arab, Muslim and Palestinian community who don’t support her right-wing views and her support for zionism,” the WOL leader said.

Many local organizations including Samidoun, Jewish Voice for Peace and Voice of Jews, mosque leaders, rabbis and neighboring residents stood beside WOL’s movement.

“Orthodox Jews participate in this event to announce and declare for the world and special for the Palestinian Nation, that all actions and bloodshed of the Zionist state against the Palestinian people does not represent Jews worldwide, they don’t speak in our name,” Rabbi Naftuli Flohr with Voice for Jews told BP.

The group leader did note one agency they were lacking in was political support, a normal occurrence for the organization.

“But we’re used to that,” she said when acknowledging WOL’s lack of support at larger rallies.  “Palestine is a cause of the oppressed, it’s a cause of subjugated.”

More Palestinian attempts at peace are expected to take place nationwide as tensions continue to grow.

Congress Member Nicole Malliotakis has not responded to Brooklyn Paper’s request for comment.