Rochester N.Y. (WROC) — As the Israel/Hamas war continues, some pro-Palestine groups are trying to a peace. One group doing just that is Rochester’s Witness Palestine that’s hosting a keynote event tonight which has been planned for months.
The event was initially supposed to be in-person, but moved to Zoom just days ago.
“It was going to be held at the Islamic Center of Rochester, and the board, the Islamic board, decided on Wednesday night that it just couldn’t happen there,” said Mindy Shaffer, the co-vice chair at Witness Palestine, an organization, that aims to advocate justice for Palestinians. “The safety of everyone involved was more important.”
Tonight’s event is to help educate the community about “The 75th year of the Nakba and its implications for the lived experiences of Palestinians around the world,” according to the Rochester Witness Palestine website. The Nakba, which translates to the “catastrophe,” refers to the creation of Israel in 1948.
“We’re not against Israel,” said Shaffer. “But what happened in Israel was that many, many hundreds of villages were destroyed as well as thousands of Palestinians were killed.”
Even still, Shaffer condemns all violence, “Hamas has been labeled a terrorist group, and all Palestinian are not terrorists,” she said. “In fact, the vast majority just want to live in peace, bring up their family, eat, and survive.”
Tonight’s Witness Palestine keynote speaker is Ahmad Abuznaid, Executive Director at U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR). There were about 100 people at the group’s last event, and Shaffer expected between 50-100 at today’s event. Although the change from in-person to Zoom may impact turn out.
At the end of October, Witness Palestine is hosting a film festival themed around Palestinian justice at a local movie theater.