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Tens of thousands say: End the occupations

Published Aug 15, 2006 11:43 PM

Washington, D.C.
WW photo: Monica Moorehead

Significant demonstrations were held across the United States on Aug. 12 in opposition to the U.S./Israeli aggression in Lebanon and the brutal occupation of Palestine and Iraq. The National Council of Arab Americans, the ANSWER Coali tion and the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation initiated these demonstrations.

Even though a United Nations-sponsor ed cease-fire in Lebanon was agreed upon this past weekend by Hezbollah—the Lebanese Islamic Resistance Movement, the Lebanese government and the U.S.-backed Israeli regime, the Zionist terrorists continued their bombardment of Beirut and other parts of Lebanon as the demonstrations here and worldwide took place.

WW photo: Berta Joubert-Ceci

The organizers report that 30,000 demonstrators came out in Washington, D.C.; 15,000 in San Francisco; 5,000 in Los Angeles; 600 in Seattle and 300 in Orlando, Fla. In Washington, a rally took place in Lafayette Park and was followed by a march that surrounded the White House. Buses brought protestors from Michigan, Illinois, New York, Florida, Virginia, Massachusetts, New Jersey and other areas.

Very large Lebanese and Palestinian flags that covered half an acre were carried in the Los Angeles march and sent a strong political message. Toni Arenstein, an acti vist and nurse, explained to a Los Angeles Times reporter why she attended the rally: “I am a Jewish woman and I stand in full solidarity with the Lebanese and Palestin ian resistance, and also I am outraged at the billions of dollars … the U.S. government is spending to fund the Israeli war machine when people here are suffering.” (LA Times, Aug. 13)

San Diego
WW photo: Bob McCubbin

Demonstrations took place in other areas as well. The vast majority of the demon strators were from the Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities within the United States, especially youths, along with progressive currents of the anti-war movement coming out to show their solidarity.

In San Diego, about 500 people gathered at the fountain in Balboa Park to protest the U.S.-backed Israeli attack on Lebanon and the ongoing war against the Palestinian people. Called by the local chap ters of the National Council of Arab Americans and Al-Awda—the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, the action was co-sponsored by the Middle East Cultural and Information Center, the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, the Muslim Student Association West, the International Action Center, the Inter na tional Socialist Organization and the Council on American Islamic Relations.

San Francisco
WW photo: Judy Greenspan

The rally was chaired by the IAC’s Carl Muhammad. Speakers included protest organizers Yousef Abudayyeh and Zahi Damuni. Damuni announced the formation of a relief fund for the victims of Israeli bombings in Lebanon. A representative of Workers World Party read a recent party statement at the rally hailing “the resistance led by Hezbollah and Hamas” and calling on all anti-imperialist and anti-war forces “to join together to mobilize to stop this criminal war and end the occupation of Palestine.”

In Philadelphia on Aug. 11, activists demonstrated against the U.S.-Israeli war demanding an immediate cease-fire, a complete withdrawal of Israeli military from Lebanon and Gaza and an end to U.S. aid to the Israeli military. The protest started at City Hall, then marched through the shopping district reaching out to thousands of people—many of whom raised their fists or honked their car’s horn in approval of the marchers’ demands.

Los Angeles

The groups that organized for the pro test included the Philadelphia chapters of the American-Arab Anti-Discri mi nation Committee, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Jewish Voices for Peace, the Network of Arab American Profes sionals, SUSTAIN, Subur ban Phila delphia Greens, Bubbes & Zaydes (Grand parents) for Peace in the Middle East, the IAC and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

In Columbus, Ohio, protestors gathered at the State House on Aug.12. The organizers were unable to get a permit to hold the demonstration on the State House grounds, so the protest took place on the sidewalk, with signs facing traffic. The demonstration was sponsored by Arab Amer icans of Central Ohio, the Cen tral Ohio Peace Network, the Com mittee for Justice in Palestine, the Community Orga ni zing Center, the Council on American-Islamic Relations Ohio, the Islamic Foun dation of Central Ohio, the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus, the Progressive Peace Coalition, the Middle East Peace Commit tee, and the Interna tional Socialist Organi zation. The main organizer was Dr. Ahmad Al-Akhras, Vice Chair of CAIR-National.

Berta Joubert-Ceci, Gregory Elich, Bob McCubbin and Scott Scheffer
contributed to this article.

Email: [email protected]