Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rally Roundup

War demonstrations

The protesters have been very busy.

Los Angeles
In Los Angeles there was a demonstration on January 6 (Tuesday) by Hamas supporters crying out things like "Free Palestine from the River to the Sea," and "Long Live Hitler."

Duisberg, Germany (from the Muqata)

Today, 10.000 people demonstrated against Israel here in my hometown Duisburg (Germany) and to express their solidarity with Hamas. So, my girlfriend and me put two Israel flags out of the windows of our flat in the 3rd floor. During the demonstration which went through our street the police broke into our flat and removed the flag of Israel. The statement of the police was to de-escalate the situation, because many youth demonstrators were on the brink of breaking into our apartment house. Before this they threw snowballs, knifes and stones against our windows and the complete building. We both were standing on the other side of the street and were shocked by seeing a police officer standing in our bedroom and opening the window to get the flag. The picture illustrate this situation. The police acquiesced in the demands of the mob.

London - a good report from Harry's Place. Plenty of Nazi imagery and the slogan of "From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free."

A sample of Nazi imagery from the London rally below:

A.N.S.W.E.R. rally in Washington, D.C.

What happened at today's A.N.S.W.E.R. demonstration in Washington, D.C., which a group from Ithaca attended? From the reports I've been able to find, the official ANSWER posters and slogans seem to be much less "pro-war" than the protest today in London.

A video from the AP -

Signs: "Faith over Fear and Justice for all," "Free Palestine: Let Gaza Live."
One anti-semitic sign - "Jewish controlled Congress supports Jewish terrorism." Slogans: "Allahu Akbar!" "Free Free Palestine, Occupation is a crime." "Long live Palestine!" Another slogan - the Shehada, plus another line in Arabic that I didn't understand.

A report from AFP on the rally:

Several thousand protesters descended on the White House Saturday in support of Palestinians in war-ravaged Gaza, as other protests took place across Canada and in the Mexican capital.

As many as 10,000 people, according to organizers, gathered from about 1:00 pm (1800 GMT) in Washington's Lafayette Park, across from the White House, chanting "free Palestine" as protest leaders and activists spoke from a podium.

An interesting article by someone named Jeff Nall on divisions in the anti-war movement over Israel/Palestine. After listing the range of groups protesting Israel's attacks in Gaza, he writes:

A definite consequence of anti-war organizations’ unanimity against Israel’s Gaza assault will inevitably lead to a loss of some supporters. I have witnessed firsthand the immediate backlash of the anti-war movement’s stance against Israel’s invasion of Gaza. One-time supporters of organizations such as Code Pink have expressed outrage over support for the Palestinians and have begun asking to be removed from email lists. Other activists have begun to report of falling out with friends. I have personally had heated debates with family members.

Even key activists are likely to oppose this new phase of the movement. When I attempted to organize a South Florida protest against the Gaza assault I received criticism from a fellow organizer. A key activist who has organized actions for Code Pink in the area took issue with my praise of the anti-war movement for its unified "condemnation of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza." In direct response to this statement she wrote: "As peace activists I think it is counter productive to spend energy on laying blame and ‘condemning’ one side—in this situation there is plenty of blame on all sides and yet plenty of room to look for understanding as well." Ironically, the peace activist made this statement on precisely the same day the Associated Press reported that Israel had killed at least 30 Palestinians when it attacked a United Nation’s school, acting as a shelter, twice in a few hours.

At this critical juncture the anti-war movement must not waiver. Our stand against the disproportionate and unjustified assault on the Palestinian people is grounded in the basic moral principle of universality – that we can no more freely destroy innocent people than our enemies – and the realization that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory is as unjust as U.S. occupation of Iraq. The anti-war movement must maintain its ethical high ground by condemning all unjustifiable assaults on and killing of civilians.

In the past, many peace groups and individuals have bemoaned the plurality of issues taken up at both local and national anti-war protests. Many have specifically taken issue with ANSWER’s inclusion of the Palestinian struggle in protests principally aimed at ending war in Iraq. Both ANSWER’s militancy and its prominent treatment of Palestinian freedom have made some in other movements uncomfortable. A thawing of the ice dividing our movement and its most capable organizations, however, may be occurring as all groups unite against Israel’s Bush-backed assault on Gaza.

Now, for some actual peace rallies, in Israel

The first one, from the Galilee: "Jews, Arabs hold peace rally."

Hundreds of Jews and Arabs from the north and center of Israel gathered near Kfar Kara'a on Highway 65 Saturday in a rally for peace. The only sign present at the demonstration read "Hand in hand – neighbors for peace".

A demonstration in Tel Aviv - Meretz and Peace Now

Some one thousand Israeli activists from Peace Now and the left-wing Meretz party protested Saturday against the offensive in Gaza, opposite the Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv.

"We have assembled to call on Israel to think twice before expanding the [Gaza] operation, we are here because we care about the IDF soldiers," said Peace Now chief Yariv Oppenheimer.

Israel indicated Saturday that it would begin a third phase of its two-week operation aimed at halting rocket fire on its southern communities, dropping leaflets in Gaza warning civilians that it plans to step up its military campaign.

"This is a demonstration that includes many true Zionists who fear for peace in the country, but our Zionism does not make us crave blood and war," Oppenheimer said.

Meretz chairman Haim Oron also attended the demonstration, and called on the Israeli government to "Stop the war and reach an agreement as soon as possible." This is "the only way to stem the bloodshed," he said.

Oron and Meretz initially supported the Israel Defensive Forces operation when it first began. But, he explained Saturday, "We said that the action's objective was to reach a cease-fire as early and as quickly as possible in order to achieve calm." He said that the time had come for even those who back the operation to call for a truce.

The protesters were joined by activists from the Hadash movement and members of the radical left in Israel. There was a minor skirmish at the sidelines of the protest when Oppenheimer, who is also a member of the Labor Party, tried to pull down a banner reading: "Not pleasant, a murderer," a reference to the election campaign headed by Labor Party leader Ehud Barak.
If I had been in Israel, I would have gone to this demonstration.

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