In a demonstration organized by the Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago on 23 August, more than two dozen activists converged on downtown Millennium Park to call on city leaders to sever ties with Israel and drop Petach Tikva, Israel from the Chicago Sister Cities program. During the annual Chicago Sister Cities’ International Festival, protesters rallied outside — and later, inside — the venue. One activist was arrested and released later that day.’Petach Tikva — an officially segregated city, the first Jewish-only settlement in historic Palestine and the site of the primary detention center where Israeli forces abuse and torture Palestinian political prisoners — has been dubbed by rights group Amnesty International as ‘Israel’s Guantanamo,” PSG stated in a press release.
‘Upholding the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions measures on apartheid Israel, PSG and its allies object to business-as-usual with Israel. Under the false premise of promoting culture and education, Petach Tikva’s inclusion in Chicago Sister Cities promotes Israel-US business ties while it whitewashes Israel’s occupation and human rights abuses,’ the statement added.
During the protest activists entered the festival venue and chanted ‘Drop Petach Tikva!’ Activists reported that a pianist who was performing in the hall at the time ‘stood at attention out of respect once he heard the protesters’ message.’
‘The PSG and allies were compelled to bring the message directly into the festival because for the last year and a half, the Chicago Sister Cities International has refused to meet with PSG and members of the community to hear about Petach Tikva’s special role in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people,’ PSG stated.
The group said it plans to keep up the pressure on city officials until the Chicago’s Sister Cities program drops its partnership with Petach Tikva.