Pro-Palestinian Protestors Confront President Biden At Tree-Lighting

Jason Graziadei •

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Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen

President Joe Biden's annual post-Thanksgiving visit to downtown Nantucket on Friday was disrupted by a small group of pro-Palestinian protestors.

As President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden walked down Broad Street on their way to have lunch at The Brotherhood of Thieves, a few protestors yelled "Free Palestine!" repeatedly before the couple entered the restaurant.

A few hours later on Main Street, another group chanted and unfurled banners at the tree lighting ceremony a short distance away from where the Bidens were standing as the rest of the crowd sang Christmas carols. The Presidential motorcade left the downtown area without incident at the conclusion of the event.

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The Bidens at the tree lighting ceremony. Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen

The small group of protestors were in the front row of the crowd on Main Street, behind the police barricades. They chanted "Biden, Biden, you can't hide, we charge you with genocide" and unfurled banners that read "Free Palestine" and "End Apartheid & Genocide."

The group included a handful of current and former Nantucket residents, including Sarah Nabulsi, Molly Zegans, Flora Medawar, and Ethan Philbrick.

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Protestors at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen

“Nantucket’s annual tree lighting ceremony is supposed to be a celebration of peace, family, and a spirit of togetherness. We decided to confront Biden to remind the President that for Palestinians, there is no peace within the everyday violence of an apartheid state," said a professor and artist who was born and raised on Nantucket and now resides in Brooklyn in a statement released after the protest. "As Nantucketers, we want to make it clear that there is nothing to celebrate, nothing to be thankful for, while 12,000 Palestinians, many entire families, have lost their lives to Israeli air strikes. It is time for President Biden to get on the right side of history and call for a permanent ceasefire and an end to the siege on Gaza and the apartheid state.”

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Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen

The protest came just days after Israel and Hamas reached a deal for a temporary cease-fire and the release of some of the hostages taken on Oct. 7.

In remarks President Biden gave on Nantucket on Friday afternoon about the situation, he stated: "We can also be thankful of families being recruited and reunited with loved ones who have been held hostage for nearly 50 days. Beginning this morning, under a deal reached by extensive U.S. diplomacy, including numerous calls I've made from the Oval Office to leaders across the region, fighting in Gaza will halt for four days. This deal also is structured to allow a pause to continue for more than 50 hostages to be released. That's our goal.

"This morning, I've been engaged with my team as we began the first difficult days of implementing this deal," Biden continued. "It is only a start, but, so far, its gone well. Earlier this morning, 13 Israeli hostages were released, including an elderly woman -- a grandmother -- and mothers with their young children, some under the age of six years old. Separately, several Thai nationals and Filipino nationals who were also kidnapped by Hamas on the 7th, they were released as well. All of these hostages have been through a terrible ordeal, and this is the beginning of a long journey of healing for them."

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