Nov 29, 2023 - News

Philadelphia limits its involvement in Palestine solidarity day

Illustration of a cracked city hall podium

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Kenney administration has distanced itself from Wednesday's Palestine solidarity day amid tensions around the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

What's happening: The third annual celebration of the city's Palestinian people and culture is from noon-1pm Wednesday on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Yes, but: Unlike in past years, the city is limiting its participation in the event.

  • Officials moved the celebration from its previous location outside the Municipal Services Building, won't send a representative to speak and denied organizers from using the city's logo for marketing purposes.

Flashback: Mayor Jim Kenney delivered remarks during the first celebration in 2021.

Zoom in: The city's limited involvement came after weeks of negotiations with organizers, Jude Husein, a founding member of the event, tells Axios.

  • Officials pushed organizers to hold a demonstration rather than a city-sponsored event, Husein says, before eventually backing down.

Details: Wednesday's celebration includes speakers, food and drink. About 100 people are expected to attend.

  • The event remains city-sponsored and organizers will receive a podium and sound system at no cost, Kenney administration spokesperson Laila Sadat tells Axios.

Of note: The city will increase public safety measures for the event.

What they're saying: Husein says the city's limited involvement was a "grave mistake that could endanger Black and brown communities."

  • City officials are "making a statement, even if it's unintentional, that you can alienate a community," she says.

The other side: "Given the current conflict and climate, we feel that prominent participation by the City will distract from the true meaning of this event, which is for Philadelphia's Palestinian community to have an equal opportunity to celebrate their heritage," Sadat says.

  • She added that the Municipal Service Building was unavailable this year due to construction.

The big picture: Fighting in Gaza remains paused as Israel and Hamas both release hostages, Axios' Barak Ravid reports.

  • The war began Oct. 7 with the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

Zoom out: Wednesday's event coincides with the United Nations' International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

  • The date is significant. On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution calling for the partition of Palestine, paving the way for the creation of the Jewish state of Israel.
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