Second demonstration scheduled for Friday, 5 p.m. in front of Dearborn City Hall.
DEARBORN – Several thousand demonstrators marched, chanted and waved flags, signs and banners along Warren Avenue in Dearborn on Tuesday, protesting Israeli airstrikes in Gaza that have killed more than 370 people since Saturday, including at least 64 civilians, according to U.N. figures.
Protestors wave Palestinian flags during a demonstration in Dearborn opposing the Israeli offensive in Gaza on Tuesday. PHOTO: Nafeh AbuNab
While the crowd included primarily Arab Americans from Dearborn and Hamtramck, Jewish peace groups from Ann Arbor and diverse activists’ groups from Detroit and other cities also participated.
"That’s exactly what we need. This isn’t just an Arab issue. It’s a human rights issue," said Suhaib Al-Hanooti, a student activist who helped organize the gathering.
He said the high turnout despite the cold was inspiring.
"It’s better than expected. It’s amazing… I see media around here, so hopefully it will have an effect –and it helps people get their frustrations out."
Activists from the group By Any Means Necessary call protest chants alongside Arab Americans during a demonstration in Dearborn on Tuesday against Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. PHOTO: Khalil AlHajal/TAAN
"We’re out here supporting the Arab American community. We believe in what they’re fighting for… What Israel is doing is racist. We have to put a stop to this," said BAMN organizer Xavier Carr, of Detroit.
"I thought the cold weather keeps people in doors but obviously that’s not the case here," he said. "Just the fact that we’re out here shows that we give a damn."
Carr said he hopes people across the country will see demonstration on television news and get motivated to gather and protest the violence.
"We’re very upset about what’s going on in Gaza," said Phil Booth, 78, of Ypsilanti, who protested alongside his wife Lee Booth, 76.
Protestors march against the Israeli offensive in Gaza on Tuesday along Warren Avenue in Dearborn. PHOTO: Nafeh AbuNab
Jack Seman, a Chaldean from Farmington Hills, said he is working with local Muslim and Jewish leaders to push together for peace and unity in the Middle East.
"It’s our duty, as Christians, Jews and Muslims to stop the bloodshed," he said. "The Middle East is supposed to be the land of milk and honey."
State Sen. Martha Scott attended a gathering at Byblos Banquet Hall after the protest.
"I’m here with you because I feel your pain," she said. "I’ll always be with you because I understand."
Protestors demonstrate Tuesday against the Israeli offensive in Gaza. PHOTO: Khalil AlHajal/TAAN
He said communities can create change over time when each person, one at a time, takes on the attitude that "it’s important for me to do my part."
"That’s how South African apartheid fell," Newash said.
He said large, loud demonstrations also facilitate the influence of community leaders on government leadership.
Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News and organizer of the protest speaks to a crowd outside Byblos Banquet Hall near the end of the demonstration Tuesday. PHOTO: Nafeh AbuNab
"When the media is present, it transfers the feelings and the emotions and the presence of the people – the message goes farther than Dearborn," he said. "And we have to continue to press on."
He said another demonstration, a candlelight vigil, is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. in front of Dearborn City Hall.
Members of the group Jewish Voice for Peace demonstrate along Warren Avenue in Dearborn on Tuesday. PHOTO: Nafeh AbuNab
"A new year’s wish for peace in the Middle East or peace in Palestine," he said. "We hope the message of change that we heard during the campaign goes beyond our borders."
The Bloomfield Hills-based Jewish Community Relations Council has expressed support for the Israeli strikes on Gaza, calling the campaign "a measure of self-defense," in response to rocket attacks into Southern Israel.