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'Gaza, Gaza Don't You Cry. Palestine Will Never Die'
2,000 New Yorkers demonstrate in defense of Palestine
Jay Hauben (jhauben)     Print Article 
Published 2008-12-29 16:26 (KST)   

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One day after the Israeli Air Force dropped a reported 100 tons of bombs on targets in the Gaza strip killing over 200 people and injuring perhaps 700 more, a demonstration was called in New York City. A leaflet sent via email and distributed at the demonstration described the reason for the protest:
"We must act now, before the massacres continue! Over 200 people were killed in Gaza on Saturday, Dec. 27 in a series of Israeli attacks - with US-made and paid for weaponry - upon the Palestinian people. These cold-blooded killings come on top of a siege on Gaza that has killed hundreds by depriving them of medical care, deprived Gazans of electricity, power and fuel and attempted to strangle the life of the Palestinian people in Gaza."
There were many such demonstrations called for around the world. But this one had the special character. It was held in front of Rockefeller Center where NYC puts its large Christmas tree.

Perhaps 2,000 people gathered on Sunday, Dec. 28, at 2 p.m. and did not disperse until they had marched to the Israeli Consulate 10 blocks away and four hours later.

One bystander, a student from Florida with family in the West Bank, commented, "It is sad to have such a demonstration at this festive time of year. But what has happened in Gaza is very tragic. Not just the latest bombing but all of 2008 and 2009 now looks like it will be even much worse. The Israeli election will most likely bring no change for the better. That is what most Palestinian people feel. So they have fear. So instead of celebrating this time of year they have come here today to demonstrate. Now everyone around the world can see that even in NYC people are saddened and upset by the Israeli bombing of Gaza." [See more of this interview in the sidebar.]

Interview with Palestinian Student Studying in Florida

Q: What do you think of this demonstration here near Rockefeller Center in NYC?

Start with the demo. It is sad to have such a demonstration at this festive time of year. But what has happened in Gaza is very tragic. Not just the latest bombing but all of 2008 and 2009 now looks like it will be even much worse. The Israeli election will most likely bring no change for the better. That is what most Palestinian people feel. So they have fear. So instead of celebrating this time of year they have come here today to demonstrate.

I come every year to New York at this time of year to be part of the great diversity in NYC.

Q: Can a demonstration like this do any good?

Everyone can see that these are peaceful people but they could have brought candles to show that. They could then have been silent and still made their point. But now everyone around the world can see that even in NYC people are saddened and upset by the Israeli bombing of Gaza.

After 300 people were killed everyone had to do something. It could not be accepted from a human point of view. But the US politicians and press are very biased toward Israel. The problem is on both sides but to different degrees. To only say both sides are wrong is incorrect

Q: Is there in your opinion a solution?

The strong side has the most responsibility to make steps toward a solution. Israel has a state, a military and much aid from the US so it has the bigger share of responsibility to propose a solution. "One State" or "Two State" solutions are both hard so right now.
/ Jay Hauben
The demonstration was not rigidly organized. People arrived and joined the growing crowd. There were many families and young people. Signs and chants contained the messages of the day. For example:
Palestine for the Palestinians

Hamas is a political party, not a terrorist organization

Arab Leaders Must Go

Free, Free Palestine

Support the Right of Return

Israelis are the real terrorists -- Free Palestine

Israel is the Axis of Evil

Gaza is today's Warsaw Ghetto

Stop Zionist Genocide in Gaza

Never Again

No Justice, No Peace

Palestine Wants to be Free

End the Occupation

Stop Killing Children

Where is Shalom?

Viva, Viva Palestine

Free Palestine from the River to the Sea

Gaza Blood is on US Hands
Many of the bystanders were happy to talk with reporters. Most supported the demonstration but felt the good it could do was lost because the NYC and national press will not be covering it. There were Jewish demonstrators and Jewish bystanders who supported the protest against the attack against the Palestinian people living in Gaza. One man who lives in NYC said: "I am in a group called 'Jews for a Just Peace.' We are seeing lately less hardline hatred among our fellow Jews. Many Jews are losing their support for Zionism."

The demonstrators were peaceful and upbeat. They marched and chanted together from Rockefeller Center to the Israeli Consulate building without incident and chanted in front of it. There had been no hostility shown to Jewish people. In front of the Israeli Consulate a few signs hostile to Jewish people and showing hatred appeared near the front of the crowd. The demonstration organizers tried to isolate those holding such signs. A general thought was that there was a effort by unknown people to hijack the demonstration by giving any hostile media present a chance to give the demonstration a hateful character which it did not actually have.

The demonstrators dispersed about 6 p.m. after having made their point that the attack on Palestine was a crime and should be opposed.

The demonstration was called by a coalition of New York City groups including Al-Awda NY: Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Arab Muslim American Federation, International Action Center, Brooklyn for Peace, USPCN-NY and the General Union of Palestinian Students. Another similar demonstration and rally was called for this coming Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Israeli Consulate again.
Should Israel implement a cease-fire in Gaza?  (2009-01-02 ~ 2009-01-26)
Yes
No
I don't know
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Jay Hauben

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