Rallies in U.S. grow stronger for Gaza

Aug. 4 — Protests continued across the U.S. opposing the Israeli assault on the people of Gaza and in solidarity with the resistance in that territory. They included large protests in Austin, Texas, and New York and the first mass demonstration in front of the White House on this issue. A broad coalition issued a call for another major action Aug. 9 to march on the United Nations in New York.

The largest Texas demonstration in support of the people of Palestine, called “Texans for Gaza,” took place on Aug. 2 in Austin. More than 6,000 people from around the state came out to the Texas Capitol to rally and march to Austin City Hall. Condemnation of the war on Gaza was strong, militant and powerful.

Some 8,000 people rallied Aug. 1 at the CNN offices in the Time-Warner building in New York to condemn that media’s pro-Zionist propaganda and to support the struggle of the Palestinian people in Gaza. Speakers and signs in the crowd at this “Mass Rally to Stand Up with Gaza Against Israeli Crimes” also condemned the U.S. government for its support of Israel.

“Every shell, every missile raining down on the people of Gaza is provided free from the United States,” said Bill Dores of Al-Awda.

The Answer Coalition, which initiated the Aug. 2 demonstration in Washington, D.C., reports that 50,000 people took part in the march and rally “to protest the ongoing massacre in Gaza and the U.S. government’s support for Israeli war crimes. The massive demonstration received wide media coverage, and is further proof that the world is uniting for Palestine.” (press release, Aug. 3)

Students for Justice in Palestine, Al-Awda, immigration and anti-war organizations joined together in Los Angeles Aug. 2 to coincide with the national demonstration in Washington. The Southern California Immigration Coalition and International Action Center participated in a car caravan organized by Unión del Barrio from South Central Los Angeles to the demonstration in Westwood. The theme was “Stop the War on Children, from Gaza to the U.S./Mexican Border.”

The previous week, the Southern California Immigration Coalition protested at President Barack Obama’s appearance at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, demanding Obama stop the war on children from Gaza to the U.S. border. More actions are being planned uniting the two struggles in Los Angeles.

About 200 people marched in San Francisco‘s Mission District on Aug. 2 as part of the national day of action. The Movimiento Reunificación por la Familia demanded the government end the deportations of unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America and release the children held in detention centers to reunite them with their families now.

The protest also demanded an end to the bombardment and occupation of Gaza, and demonstrators carried signs showing the relation of the two struggles: “No to bombs and deportations! U.S./Israel, hands off our children!” and “Down with apartheid walls from Palestine to the Rio Grande!”

Hundreds of voices demanded “Israel Out of Gaza Now!” at a busy downtown Atlanta intersection where thousands were attending a concert in nearby Centennial Olympic Park on Aug. 2.

With red, green, black and white balloons aloft, scores of children led a march through the streets from the CNN Center to the newly opened National Center for Civil and Human Rights. There organizers read the names of about 300 of the more than 1,400 Palestinians killed in Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza.

Atlanta’s business and political leadership had promoted the creation of the Human Rights Center as a tourist attraction. Opponents of Israeli apartheid and war came to ask the obvious questions, “What about Palestinian civil and human rights?” and “When will the U.S. stop funding and supporting Israeli war crimes?”

As the crowd chanted “Free Palestine,” the balloons were released to soar into the bright sunshine. Protest organizers announced weekly demonstrations in front of the Israeli consulate starting Aug. 8.

A diverse crowd of Philadelphia activists and Palestine area residents rallied in Love Park on Aug. 1, followed that evening by a fundraising benefit for the people of Gaza. Ayman Nijim reported on his work helping traumatized children and families in Gaza, followed by musical performances by Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble, Farah Siraj and Farhad Afsharvand accompanied by Dr. Hasan Shahpari. Proceeds were donated to Kinder USA and Islamic Relief USA, which provide direct humanitarian relief to the people and children of Gaza.

Hundreds of people came to the Stop Gaza Genocide & Protest Media Coverage at the Federal Building in downtown San Diego on Aug. 1. Protesters gathered at the Federal Building and marched to NBC headquarters to rally there. They held a long banner against the dark-tinted windows of the NBC building with some of names of men, women and children killed and their cities.

Protest participants posted coverage from ABC, NBC and FOX on the Facebook event page. One participant’s comment on NBC’s coverage was, “All they gave us was a 10-second bit and focused more on the Israeli right to defend itself. … What a horrible controlled one-sided news station!!!”

San Diego’s fourth protest was called by Al-Awda, San Diego Palestinian Right to Return Coalition and supported by many groups that plan to demonstrate every Friday from 4-7 p.m. at the Federal Building.

FightBack! News reports that 150 people gathered in St. Paul, Minn., for Women Against Military Madness’ third weekly Friday Palestine vigil, Aug. 1. Chants of “Free Palestine” drew supportive honks from drivers.

Protesters heard from Sherine Mashni, who is a family member of both 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair, who was killed by Israeli settlers, and of 15-year-old Tariq Khieder, who was beaten and arrested by Israeli police and then kept on house arrest before finally being allowed to return home to Tampa, Fla. Mashni thanked the crowd for protesting and continuing to demand an end to the attack on Gaza.

This week’s vigil also addressed the case of Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh, who had a court date in Detroit the day before.

Demonstrations July 31 in Tucson, Ariz., and Aug. 1 in Tampa, Fla., raised the same points as the one in St. Paul, inlcuding “Justice for Rasmea, justice for Palestine.”

Along with sources cited in the text, contributing to this article were Gloria Rubac, G. Dunkel, John Parker, Dianne Mathiowetz, Joe Piette, Terri Kay and Gloria Verdieu, with editing by John Catalinotto.