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Thousands of protestors turned out in Washington, D.C., to support Palestinians

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

And while American conservatives by and large support Israel, a different group in Washington voiced their discontent. Hundreds of protesters marching in support of Palestinians sat down yesterday in the rotunda of a congressional office building chanting and singing.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Singing in non-English language).

MARTÍNEZ: Jewish Voice for Peace organized the event. Earlier in the day, thousands gathered on the National Mall.

HAL BARNETT: A core thing about Judaism is questioning things. And so if we don't question what we're doing in Israel, then we're just turning a blind eye to everything.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Hal Barnett (ph) is 23 and a student at City College in New York. The march to the rotunda was led by a group of rabbis and young people carrying a large banner that read, our blood is the same color. David Sperber (ph) is 79 and traveled from Rochester, N.Y.

DAVID SPERBER: I've been to Gaza as part of a humanitarian medical delegation, and I saw up close and personal what Israel has been doing to Gaza for the last 16 years. You know, I took an oath as a medical doctor to support health and life. And so I'm out here doing this as a doctor, as a Jewish person.

MARTÍNEZ: Twenty-nine-year-old Yasmine Batniji (ph) says the march helped her take her mind off her family, who's been unreachable in Gaza for days.

YASMINE BATNIJI: The best thing that I can do right now is just being in the streets. And that's the only way that I think I can show up for my people and show up for what's right.

MARTIN: Thirty-nine-year-old Alaa Wafa (ph) says women like her who wear the hijab are very visible in the U.S. And in recent days, she has felt less safe.

ALAA WAFA: I worry about my child's safety and my family's safety. I worry about the safety also of our Jewish American friends who are also facing antisemitism.

MARTIN: She says her Palestinian grandmother is heartbroken by the current violence, but her own feelings are mixed.

WAFA: I think people just need to remember the humanity of society and stop doing the othering, divisive rhetoric and things like that. And so I truly believe this, that we're all one human family.

(SOUNDBITE OF SAXON SHORE'S "SECRET FIRE, BINDING LIGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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