Protesters take to the streets across the country
Stop Israel’s war on Lebanon
July 28, 2006 | Page 15
OPPONENTS OF Israel’s terror campaign against the people of Palestine and Lebanon made their voices heard at events across the country in July.
— In one of the biggest, some 4,000 people gathered in Chicago on July 22 for a protest called by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the Council of American-Islamic Relation, the Arab American Action Network and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).
“People are sick of seeing their brothers and sisters and families dying in the hundreds,” said Hakim Husien of the Palestine Aid Society. “We also cannot forget the war in Iraq. This is a whole reshaping of the Middle East, and the people here are not going to accept it.”
The demonstration in Chicago saw one of largest turnouts of Arabs and Muslims in many years.
— In New York City that night, 300 attended a forum entitled “Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq: The U.S. and Israel’s All-Out War on the Middle East” at the Judson Memorial Church, featuring the International Solidarity Movement’s (ISM) Huwaida Arraf, Riham Al Barghouti of NY Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, author Anthony Arnove, and Jafer Al Jaferi of the National Council of Arab-Americans (NCA).
— In Seattle on July 22, over 300 people attended a solidarity forum and vigil called by the Arab-American Community Coalition. After the forum, a candlelight vigil was held for the victims of the violence.
— The week before was filled with several events to demand an end to Israel’s assault in Lebanon and Gaza. In New York City on July 18, more than 1,000 people gathered in front of the Israeli Mission to the UN. The demonstration was called by the NCA, the ISM and the ADC and was endorsed by the ANSWER coalition, United for Peace and Justice and the International Socialist Organization (ISO).
— In Boston on July 19, about 300 people from all over Massachusetts rallied at Copley Square to protest Israel’s assault on Lebanon. Most of the people who came were Lebanese, and the square was awash with Lebanese flags.
“I was following what was going on and just had to do something,” said Duane, who came from New Hampshire. “I was just searching on the Internet and found this rally. So I drove down.”
On July 21, 1,000 people rallied at City Hall Plaza in Boston in a protest organized by the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation–just days after a rally of hundreds in Brookline who were to support Israel’s latest crimes. Many people took the day off of work to come to the rally, with a group of Arab auto mechanics from west of Boston closing their car shop to attend the event.
Organizers encouraged people to join the national march on Washington on August 12 against Israel’s wars and the attack on the rights of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S.
— In San Francisco, about 200 people gathered in front of the Israeli consulate on July 13.
“The media doesn’t report the facts,” said Patrick from Students for Justice in Palestine at Berkeley. “They have turned the recent events into retaliation for the ‘kidnapped’ Israeli soldier. That is just a front for their escalating violence. What is never mentioned is that only a few days prior an entire Palestinian family was murdered on a Gaza beach. The media never shows who the real victims are.”
“I am at the protest today to show that as a Jewish person I do not unconditionally support the shameful acts of Israel,” said Eric of the Justice in Palestine Coalition.
— In Washington, D.C., more than 600 protesters gathered outside the White House in a rally called by the ADC on July 19.
— In San Diego, more than 200 turned out for a July 20 emergency demonstration called by the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice. Osama, a 31-year-old ex-Marine born in Iraq, carried a sign saying “Fund people’s needs, not Israeli warfare.” Earlier the same day, a San Diego State University teach-in drew 300 students.
— Some 300 protested in Toledo, Ohio on July 21.
— In Austin, Texas, nearly 200 protested in front of the office of pro-Israel Republican Sen. John Cornyn on July 21.
“It’s high time that Western governments start taking responsibility for their actions,” said protester Sterling Hall. “We need a generation to stand up for what’s right and own up to the past generation’s crime.” Co-sponsors for the event included MeCHA, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Code Pink and the Palestine Solidarity Committee.
— In Greensboro, N.C., 50 people protested on July 18 in 95-degree heat. And in Rochester, gray skies and rain couldn’t stop 80 people from protesting at the Federal Building on July 22.
— On July 24, 100 people protested at the federal building in Springfield, Mass. “The children of Lebanon don’t know anything about militaries,” said an iman with Islamic Society of Springfield. “They are dying.”
— On July 19, 250 people gathered at the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, chanting “Hey, Olmert, what do you say? How many kids have you killed today?” ANSWER, Al-Awda, Women in Black, Muslim Student Associations from a dozen colleges, the ISO and KPFK radio helped turn people out. Demonstrators shouted down about 50 Israel supporters who came to counterprotest.
— Counterprotests were organized in several cities against rallies in support of Israel’s assault on Gaza and Lebanon, including New York City where a dozen activists gathered to protest a rally that featured a swarm of Democratic politicians including Sen. Hillary Clinton.
— On July 23, 150 people in Los Angeles gathered at the Israeli consulate in support of Lebanon and Palestine and to protest some 2,000 Israel supporters.
Speakers at the “Community Rally to Support the People of Israel” included many elected officials, including Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “We’re here to defend [Israel’s] unassailable right to defend itself,” said Villaraigosa to loud cheers.
— In Burlington, Vt., about 40 people picketed outside Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders’ office on July 19 to protest Sanders’ continued support of Israel. “What Israel is doing in Lebanon, attacking civilian targets like airports, is the extension of what they have been doing to Palestine,” said Jimmy Leas, a member of Vermonters for a Just Peace in Israel/Palestine.
Activists are determined to keep turning up the heat on Israel and its supporters in the White House. Building solidarity with Arab activists in this fight will be critical.
Mark Clinton, Ben Davis, Patrick Dyer, Kate Johnson, Sarah Knopp, Kurt Krueger, Frank Laporte, Ken Love, Kristin Lubbert, Robert McDonald, Amy Muldoon, Khury Petersen-Smith, Andrew Sisco, Brad Ward-Robinson and Chris Yarrison contributed to this report.