More than 300 activists demonstrated in front of the Israeli Consulate on Los Angeles’ main thoroughfare this past Friday. Presented as a “Day of Rage”, and part of the International Wave of Solidarity with Palestine demonstrations organized by the Palestine BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) National Committee, this coincided with sister events throughout the nation and in cities throughout the world.
Demonstrator carried signs, chanted, and heard six speakers from sponsoring organizations.
Passing automobiles honked their horns and shouted to the demonstrators as they drove by to indicate solidarity with the event.
Speakers included well-known advocates for Palestinian freedom. Shakeel Sayed is a leader of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC). In that capacity he has been an energetic worker for justice in the Middle East in the ISCSC and in collaboration with other organizations. He made three key points in his presentation: First, he called upon President Obama to stop aiding and abetting the apartheid regime of Israel with tax dollars and arms; second, he called upon impotent Arab dictators to support the Palestinian struggle, and third, he told the Palestinian people that we would never forget our Palestinian brothers and sisters until they are free. When making the second point he singled out Saudi Arabia suggesting that supporting the Palestinian struggle would be a better undertaking than killing innocent Yemenis.
Another speaker was Estee Chandler, a leader in Jewish Voice for Peace through its Los Angeles office. Jim Lafferty has worked with the National Lawyers Guild not only in striving for justice in the Middle East but also in ensuring the rights of American activists to speak out without intimidation by the government.
Ahlam Muhtaseb, a member of the faculty at California State University in San Bernadino, gave the microphone to his nephew, Hatem. Hatem’s father and brother were recently shot by Israeli police. Hatem lives in San Diego having come to the United States to study construction engineering. His family in Jerusalem is foremost in his mind in this time of turmoil.
Both anger and enthusiasm activated the crowd after three weeks of an escalating war by Israel against Palestine which has resulted in 30 dead and 1,300 injured, Palestinian homes demolished, mass arrests of Palestinian youth, and aggression against the Al Aqsa Mosque cherished by Muslims. Unsurprisingly a disproportionate number of the dead and injured have been children.
The demonstrators were Muslim, Jewish and Christian, united by a common humanity. Most of the demonstrators carried and waved Palestinian flags and signs which called attention to the plight of the people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Most often seen were signs reading: “End all US Aid to Israel Now” and “Israel guilty of War Crimes”
A small number of Zionists made up the opposition and were across the street from the Day of Rage demonstration.
The sponsoring organizations include (but are not limited to): American Muslims for Palestine; Palestinian American Women’s Association; Jewish Voice for Peace -LA; various campus Students for Justice in Palestine, and A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism).