Posted by CODEPINK Staff
On July 18, 2014, members of CODEPINK DC attended a Stand With Israel rally at Farragut Square in Washington, D.C. to condemn the United States government for continuing to give aid to Israel. We hung tombstones with the names of people that had been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza and held signs that called for the ending of bombing in Gaza.
Although I’ve studied and read about the Israel-Palestine conflict, I had never witnessed first-hand the hatred that is present in this situation.
I saw vehement racism, ignorance, hatred and violence. I saw a Zionist man hit a Palestinian woman from the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) 3 times. Even though we were surrounded by police, nothing was done and the man left, after heckling us and assaulting the woman.
I heard multiple anti-semitic remarks, comments that deaths of Gazan children were “staged” and many other ignorant statements.
There are a number of things these pro-Israel supporters fail to recognize and refuse to listen to.
-Many Zionists and pro-Israel supporters believe that our protests are one-sided, just condemning Israel’s aggression towards Gaza. CODEPINK advocates for human rights and peace, mourning all losses of life.
-Israel supporters keep repeating that it’s in self-defense. How is killing over 500 Gazans “self-defense” for the 13 Israelis that have died in the past few weeks? Israel supporters fail to acknowledge the discrepancy in killings. More than 500 Palestinians have been killed and about 80 percent have been were civilians.
-The United States has not only ignored Israel’s aggression against Muslims and Christian Palestinians in Gaza, but we have supported it. There will never be peace in the Middle East if we do not speak out against Israeli aggression. How is savagely punishing hundreds for the terrible deaths of three Orthodox Jewish boys “self-defense”? Self-defense means launching a gruesome bombing campaign?
-The IDF claims to be the “moral army” and states that it respects Jewish ethics in its operations. However, when assessed under “pikuakh nefesh,” the Biblical claim of prioritizing the preservation of human life above everything, the IDF doesn't seem to be meeting the standard for a "moral army," does it?
-Many supporters of the Israeli government have tried to give me a history lesson. I am aware of the history of this region. This conflict has been going on since the early 1900s. This region was a predominantly Arab and Muslim region and then Jews began moving into the area, as part of the Zionist movement among European Jews, to escape persecution and establish their own state in their ancestral homeland. Violence ensued between Jews and Arabs. In 1947, the United Nations approved a plan to divide British Palestine into two mostly independent countries, one for Jews called Israel and one for Arabs called Palestine. Jerusalem was to be a special international zone. Arab leaders saw it as European colonialism and in 1948 they invaded to keep Palestine unified. Although the Israeli forces won the 1948 war, they pushed beyond the UN-designated borders to claim land that was to have been part of Palestine, including western Jerusalem. They uprooted and banished Palestinian communities. The borders between Israel and Palestine have been disputed and fought over ever since the end of the war. Supporters of the Israeli government do not recognize that this is an occupation of the Palestinian people!
-Palestinians have been denied basic rights in Gaza. Refugees have lost jobs in Israel after Israel banned Gaza workers and businessmen from entering its territories. The seven-year blockade have rendered Gazans helpless. The Gaza Strip is home to 1.8 million people, among whom 1.2 million are living in eight refugee camps. The unemployment rate stands at 40 percent in Gaza. The number of registered Palestinian refugees by UNRWA in January 2014 was about 5.4 million in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
-Israel is responsible for genocide against the Palestinians. Israel targets Muslims every Ramadan. Israel is a racist state, a trait I saw very much yesterday, and CODEPINK is working to combat the anti-Arab sentiment that many Israelis, as well as some United States politicians, showcase.
*note - when CODEPINK’s protesters first walked over to the rally, a man shouted as us that we “might as well be Muslim”
-A lot of Israelis’ arguments against my case have revolved around what they have heard in the media. ABC News showed a picture of "the rockets raining down on Israel" – while in reality our screen showed us Israeli jets pounding Gaza. Pointing to a still photo clearly of Palestinians dragging a mattress through the rubble, she described it as "an Israeli family trying to salvage what they can." There is a blatant pro-Israel bias of the western media.
-At the rally, I heard a comment that their ancestors were killed or are survivors of the Holocaust, and that it justifies what Israel is doing to the Palestinians. As a student who studies Holocaust Studies myself, who has traveled to Poland with Holocaust survivors and witnessed what terrible horrors occurred in these concentration camps during the Holocaust, I absolutely cannot condone relating that to the atrocities that have occurred against the Palestinians.
All in all, it was hard when these people at the rally were coming at me, trying to lecture me about history when they had it all wrong. It’s hard to argue with ignorance, and with people who fail to listen and start a dialogue, rather than instigating violence and hatred. I have also learned in all the Palestinian solidarity protests in the past few weeks, that we should not be afraid to use the words “genocide” and “apartheid” when referring to Israeli aggression.
While I am disappointed and outraged by the response CODEPINK received from supporters of the Israeli governments, the Palestinian people I have met and the people who continuously work for justice and peace in the Middle East give me hope for the future.
By Colleen Moore