No more business as usual: the world shuts it down for Palestine

Demonstrators showed solidarity with Palestinians, undergoing a genocide in the Gaza Strip, by occupying mainstream media centers, shuttering businesses, and more

by Natalia Marques
November 18, 2023

On November 17, people across the globe heeded the call for a pause on business as usual in solidarity with Gaza and to apply pressure to Israel and its supporters. The day of action was convened by several Palestine solidarity and anti-imperialist organizations including the Palestinian Youth Movement, National Students for Justice in Palestine, the ANSWER Coalition, the People’s Forum, the International Peoples’ Assembly, Al-Awda NY, and the Palestinian American Community Center in New Jersey. The organizations called on people everywhere to “increase the pressure with more marches, walk-outs, sit-ins, and other forms of direct action directed at the political offices, businesses, and workplaces that fund, invest, and collaborate with Israeli genocide and occupation.”

In the United States, Israel’s biggest funder and political supporter, local business owners shuttered stores in solidarity with Palestine, reminiscent of the general strikes historically undertaken by Palestinian store owners as a protest tactic. In Bay Ridge, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York with a large Arab community, dozens of stores closed their doors. Mahmoud, the Palestinian owner of Al-Aqsa restaurant, which shut down on Friday, said of other store owners who had expressed worry about losing a day of business, “Families are getting destroyed, what are you gonna worry about one day that you’re not gonna make that money?”

On November 17, hundreds of stores in New York City were shut down in solidarity with Palestine, displaying posters that read “This place is shut down for Palestine today!”

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Protesters in several US cities also occupied the headquarters of major news stations which have provided cover for Israeli genocide. In New York City, protesters marched into the headquarters of NewsCorp, which owns mainstream right-wing news station FOX News, the most watched cable news channel in the US.

FOX News ran headlines on TV such as “IDF Shares video of Hamas tunnels under hospital” and “IDF uncovers weapons cache behind hospital MRI,” just after Israel raided the largest hospital in Gaza under the pretext of an alleged Hamas base underneath Al-Shifa hospital. Ultimately, the Israeli occupation forces could not share any proof of such tunnels beyond a computer-animated video, but that did not stop them from conducting a ground invasion on Al-Shifa and opening fire on patient rooms. The New York police made several arrests of the demonstrators as they read out a statement by a doctor at Al-Shifa hospital about the impact of the Israeli attacks.

Protesters occupy the headquarters of News Corp in New York City (Photo: Craig Birchfield)

The headquarters of CNN in Atlanta and the Chicago Tribune in Chicago were also occupied by demonstrators, who unfurled the long list of names of some of the over 11,500 Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza.

Across the globe, demonstrators staged further actions in solidarity with Palestine. In Seoul, South Korea, activists organized an event to call for a ceasefire and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. To commemorate the more than 11,500 people killed in Gaza, organizers laid out empty shoes and unfurled a banner with the names of the martyrs. In São Paulo, Brazil demonstrators rallied outside of the Israeli consulate. Protesters with Italian left party Potere al Popolo, trade unions Unione Sindacale di Base and Si Cobas blocked the Port of Salerno, preventing trucks from the company ZIM, the Israeli company that provides logistical support to the genocide in Gaza, from entering.

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Demonstrators in front of the Israeli consulate in São Paulo (Photo: Lucas Martins and Articulação de Redes)

In Cuba, President Miguel Díaz-Canel held a meeting with the 144 Palestinian medical students, of whom 53 are from Gaza, at a time when Gaza’s health workers and hospitals are especially under attack. Cuba makes a point to show solidarity with Palestine by training Palestinian medical students at the world-renowned Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) on the island. One of the largest international contingents at ELAM, a school which trains doctors from all over the globe, is from Palestine.

Following the meeting of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel with Palestinian medical students, they headed to the Plaza de la Revolución where Cuban musicians and poets raised their voices for the Palestinian cause and against the genocide perpetrated by Israel

Students around the world staged walkouts and actions in solidarity with Palestine. Students at the University of the Philippines Diliman held an assembly to demand an immediate ceasefire of the Israeli forces, taking action on the International Day of Student Struggle, which happens to also be on November 17. In Glasgow, Scotland, students, parents, and workers staged a “School Strike for Palestine,” gathering by the hundreds in front of Redbridge Town Hall.

Students at the University of the Philippines Diliman held an assembly to demand an immediate ceasefire and express solidarity with Palestine (Photo: UP Diliman University Student Council)

Thousands of protesters finished off the night of November 17 by gathering outside of the Union Station in Washington, DC, South Station in Boston, Pennsylvania Station in Baltimore, Pennsylvania Station in New York City, and the 30th Street Amtrak station in Philadelphia, blocking off the entrances of the major centers of transportation. In Los Angeles, protesters blocked the exit and entrance of the 405 highway during rush hour traffic.

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