Pro-palestinian protesters during Congressional Baseball Game

Pro-palestinian protesters are seen during the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity at Nationals Park on June 12, 2024.

(Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Genocide Is Not a Game: Congressional Baseball and War Crimes in Gaza

Why did we protest this national pastime? Because the systematic murder and starvation of Palestinians by Israel cannot continue with our silent complicity.

During last week’s Congressional Baseball Game, dozens of us in the crowd conveyed urgent messages to stop funding Israel’s genocide of Palestinian and to address the escalating climate emergency.

We were met by the disproportionate level of force from hundreds of police across multiple jurisdictions who encircled and followed us around. Activists with Climate Defiance entered the field and were plowed down forcefully by police officers and arrested.

In our seats, we stood with signs, flags, some just wearing kuffiyehs, chanting “Free Palestine” and “Genocide is not a game.” Despite the legality and common practice of cheering and displaying signs at baseball games, we were swiftly ejected by swarms of police officers.

Juxtaposed to our ejection and policing of our rights to freedom of speech, police unsurprisingly, did nothing to address the egregious and blatantly racist verbal abuse laced with profanity being hurled at us. In one instance, an entire section of the crowd erupted in a “fu** you terrorists” chants. Meanwhile, others in the stadium freely displayed their political messages without facing any consequences.

Our aim was to deliver a clear message to members of Congress, who were indulging in a photo-op game amid multiple crises they are directly responsible for through billions in funding to Israel and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

Since October, Congress have allocated billions more of our tax dollars to Israel, facilitating the genocide of over 40,000 Palestinians in Gaza while also displacing and starving millions of Palestinians.

The U.S. Pentagon is the largest institutional polluter in the world. Israel has also used white phosphorus and other weapons from the United States to destroy the local environment, facilitating the death of the local habitat. Each U.S. bomb tested, manufactured, transferred, and dropped exacerbates the climate crisis, intertwining Palestine’s plight with climate justice.

More bombs were dropped in the first 100 days of the US-Israel genocide in Gaza than in all of World War II combined.

Despite the majority of Americans wanting a ceasefire in Gaza (including the majority of republican voters), despite the majority of nation-states deploring Israel’s war crimes in Palestine, despite the highest court of the world releasing arrest warrants for crimes against humanity to Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defence, Yoav Gallant, the U.S. is continuing to aid and empower Israel’s ethnic cleansing. Almost every congressperson who played that night voted to sanction the International Criminal Court after it issued an arrest warrant for Netanyahu.

The annual Congressional Baseball game is sponsored by a long list of companies profiting off of the Israeli and U.S. atrocities in Palestine, including: Boeing, RTX (formerly Raytheon), Caterpillar, Chevron, Amazon, Google.

It’s not a coincidence that while arms dealers are reaping historic highs in stock prices and earnings, members of Congress are lining their pockets with checks from Israeli lobbying groups. Particularly AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Council.

The baseball game is technically a fundraiser for groups like the Boys and Girls Club, Nationals Philanthropies, and the Washington Literacy Center. It is paradoxical that Congress raises trivial amounts for education while channeling billions of tax dollars into weapons shipments used to indiscriminately murder Palestinians.

Activists across the U.S are demanding an end to all aid to Israel and a reinvestment of those funds into our community needs such as housing, healthcare, and education. Our actions at the game were driven by a profound sense of urgency and justice.

The systematic murder and starvation of Palestinians by Israel cannot continue with our silent complicity. We must persist in demanding accountability from our elected officials. We demand that funds from warfare be redirected to vital community needs and to address the world’s common enemy, the climate crisis.

We stand in solidarity with Palestinians and all others who are fighting for their lives and dignity. The struggle for justice in Palestine is not just their fight; it is a global cause that calls for our unwavering support and action.

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