In a dramatic display of protest against the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, pro-Palestinian demonstrators temporarily disrupted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. The parade, an iconic American tradition, was momentarily overshadowed by calls for an end to what protesters described as “genocide” in the Gaza Strip.
As colorful floats, spirited marching bands, and the parade’s iconic balloons made their way along Sixth Avenue, a group of protesters clad in white jumpsuits took to the streets, causing a spectacle that caught the attention of both parade-goers and viewers at home.
The protesters had slogans like “imperialism,” “genocide,” and “colonialism” emblazoned on their jumpsuits. They symbolically poured fake blood on one another and the roadway, sending a powerful message about the dire situation in Palestine. The group behind this direct action identified themselves as the Seven Circles Alliance, a coalition of climate activists, social justice advocates, and political activists.
In a statement, the Seven Circles Alliance called on the United States to cease its support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine and urged both the U.S. and Israel to recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). They emphasized the interconnectedness of the struggle for a free Palestine and the global climate movement, stating, “Climate is a human rights issue, and what we are witnessing right now in Palestine is one of the greatest human rights issues of our time.”
Solidarity with Palestine found expression beyond the disruption itself. On one of the parade floats, belonging to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, a member proudly displayed a Palestinian flag, highlighting the resonance of the Palestinian cause with Indigenous communities.
The Israel-Hamas conflict has exacted a heavy toll, with Israeli airstrikes and raids in Gaza resulting in the loss of more than 14,500 Palestinian lives, including over 6,000 children, since the outbreak of hostilities. It has also displaced about three-quarters of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents and caused severe damage to civilian infrastructure.
Massive street protests worldwide in recent weeks have pressured political leaders to call for a cease-fire and a path toward peace in Gaza. Genocide experts and other critics of Israel’s war, including some Israelis, have advocated for the intervention of the ICC.
While some U.S. lawmakers have called for a cease-fire, President Joe Biden has reaffirmed his “unwavering” support for Israel and requested congressional authorization for an additional $14.3 billion for the war effort, on top of the $3.8 billion in annual military aid that Israel already receives from the United States.
A four-day pause in the fighting is set to begin at midnight, facilitating the release of 150 Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons and 50 hostages held by Hamas. U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the only Palestinian American in Congress, stressed the urgency of achieving a permanent cease-fire agreement, stating, “A temporary pause in the violence is not enough.”
The disruption of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade served as a stark reminder that the Israel-Hamas conflict continues to evoke passionate responses from those advocating for peace, justice, and human rights.