When top politicos abandon human rights, public should abandon them, say counterprotesters.
CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)–July 28, 2014. Israel’s supporters staged a rally today to defend the IDF’s wholesale assault on the people of Gaza — and counter-protesters were there to meet them. The counter-picket was organized to voice opposition to Israel’s ongoing slaughter in Gaza’s besieged open-air prison, as well as continuing Israeli violence against protesters and civilians in the occupied West Bank and within Israel.
“Americans deserve to know what their tax dollars are funding — and that includes Israel’s murderous war on the Palestinian people,” says protester Hatem Abudayyah, who attended the Monday counterprotest. “It’s a disgrace that these elected officials would turn a blind eye to the wanton slaughter of children, the elderly, the disabled and the dispossessed at the same time that they authorize hundreds of millions more in US tax dollars for Israel’s killing machine. If this is their political platform, then they no longer deserve our support.”
The Jewish United Fund scheduled the pro-Israel rally at the same time as the Eid el-Fatr, which celebrates the end of Ramadan and is one of the most important holidays in the Muslim calendar, when many local Arab Americans and observant Muslims will be at religious services. The holiday is rooted in a spirit of generosity and gratitude, with charity and good deeds of special significance to celebrants. Protesters mobilized nonetheless in the spirit of Eid, invoking impassioned pleas for relief for Gazans and all Palestinians.
Israeli forces have killed over 1,000 Gazans – overwhelmingly civilians – since its onslaught began three weeks ago, and has injured over 6,000 more. At least a tenth of Gaza’s population has been made homeless by the assault. The death toll in the occupied West Bank has also continued to rise as Israel seeks to suppress protests against its occupation and assault on Gaza — including the Israeli sniper assassination of human rights worker Hashem Abu Maria, who worked for Defense of Children International. He was shot as he stood among a group of onlookers at a protest in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar on Friday. On Sunday, the Israeli military claimed that it shelled an empty UN schoolyard in Gaza on Thursday, despite sweeping video and photo evidence of its civilian massacre, which killed at least 15 and injured hundreds. That kind of flat-out lying characterizes Israel’s chronic spin on its violence in the region – at the same time that prominent politicians like Illinois Senator Mark Kirk continue to give the rogue state political cover in the United States, say activists.
Protesters vow to step up the campaign against Israel’s apologists as a growing wave of world opinion turns against Israel for its brutality in the region.
“More and more Americans every day are seeing the Israeli state for what it really is,” says Nesreen Hasan, who attended the protest. “And more and more Americans are rejecting Israeli apartheid, occupation and extremism. We are stepping up our efforts, from BDS – the boycott/sanctions/divestment movement – to public protest and direct challenges to elected officials who co-sign Israeli brutality.”
Despite many local politicians’ unquestioning support for Israel, some members of their own families are speaking out against Israeli violence and repression. US Congressman Luis Gutierrez’ daughter is currently in the West Bank, and sent this message to local supporters of Palestine:
“Some people ask me that as a Puerto Rican why is it that I am so passionate about supporting the people of Palestine,” writes Jessica Gutierrez. “I just want to clarify that being Puerto Rican is PRECISELY why I will continue to fight alongside Palestine. Palestine faces the obscenity of Apartheid, a cruel and deadly military occupation by the Israeli government, and when I see them fight, I want to fight too, when I see them raise their flag, I see my flag too, I understand their desire for a FREE Palestine because I too desire a FREE Puerto Rico. When I lift up the Palestinian flag I lift it with the same love and admiration that I feel for my own, when I lift up the Palestinian flag I AM PALESTINIAN TOO!”
Organizers of today’s counter-picket included the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine, which has been coordinating local protests to oppose Israel’s ongoing slaughter in Gaza, including the latest mass mobilization in Chicago on Saturday, which drew thousands of supporters of Palestine to the city’s downtown area.