Hundreds protest Gaza bombardment in second local demonstration
By Nick Meyer | Saturday, 01.03.2009, 05:39 AM |   (10 views)

DEARBORN - About 500 people from varying ethnic and religious backgrounds showed up in front of the steps of City Hall on Friday to protest Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip over the past week, and to hold a candlelight vigil for victims of the conflict.

Protestors brave the cold at the steps of Dearborn City Hall on Friday to voice opposition to Israeli airstikes on Gaza that have killed 400 over the past week. PHOTO: Nick Meyer/TAAN

Evacuees allowed to leave the bombarded Palestinian territory on Thursday told of crippling shortages of water, electricity and medicine, echoing a U.N. warning of a deepening humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip in the seven-day-old Israeli campaign. The U.N. estimates at least a quarter of the 400 Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes were civilians.

The crowd of demonstrators in Dearborn braved frigid temperatures and high winds to show solidarity with the Palestinians as they chanted along to rallying cries of "1,2,3,4, stop the killing, stop the war!" and "5,6,7,8, Israel is the terrorist state!" They waved Palestinian flags as local television news reporters interviewed leaders from the Congress of Arab American Organizations (CAAO), which organized the protest, the second in four days.

Candles blew out multiple times and the cold was difficult to bear, especially for the children, but most stayed until the end to hear what speakers had to say about the attacks.

"People in Gaza are suffering with no food, no water, and no medicine," said Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News and spokesperson for CAAO.

"This is a war crime by all means."

Protestors display a banner at the steps of Dearborn City Hall on Friday to voice opposition to Israeli airstikes on Gaza that have killed 400 over the past week. PHOTO: Nick Meyer/TAAN

Jewish activists in opposition to the attacks on Gaza were also highly visible at the rally, including Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI) activist Jerry Goldberg, who addressed the crowd.

"These attacks are not in the interest of any people," Goldberg said. "Jews and Arabs lived in peace for 5,000 years until the creation of the Zionist movement and the discovery of oil in the Middle East."

Goldberg placed the blame for unrest in the region "squarely on the U.S. government."

"Every bomb being dropped on Gaza is paid for by the U.S. government," Goldberg said.

"As a Jew, I stand here today in solidarity with Palestine."

Members of the group Jewish Voice for Peace were also in attendance, holding up signs including one that read "We refuse to be enemies."

Siblani also challenged the viewpoint projected by mainstream media that Hamas is the cause of the cause of the attacks.

"The source of the problem is the occupation of Gaza," he said. "They are defending themselves from 60 years of brutal occupation."

Palestinian Detroit resident Maysa Hamdad, who is from the West Bank, attended the rally and vigil to show her support for Gaza.

"I think that they did very well to show their support for Palestine," she said.

"We just hope that this will stop, we have to keep out there and voice our opinions and make sure this massacre stops."

The crowd was encouraged to write representatives in Congress, to write letters to the local press and to attend two more planned rallies within the next week.

The next scheduled rally is set for Saturday, Jan. 3 at 3:30 p.m. in West Bloomfield at the intersection of Orchard Lake and Maple Roads.

Another rally to protest the war is expected to take place on Thursday, Jan. 8 at 4:30 p.m. at the McNamara Federal Building on Michigan and Cass Avenues in downtown Detroit.


By Nick Meyer

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