THE PALESTINIAN CONNECTION TO HIROSHIMA

The following is a post from the Archives written a year ago …
Palestinian in Hiroshima

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

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I and Oliver Stone both spoke at Hiroshima on the anniversary of the first nuclear bombing in human history and we are slated to speak in two days at Nagasaki on the anniversary of the second nuclear attack.  My speech is below in English (I will send the Japanese version later).  These remain the most starkest of acts of state terror in Human history.  I had seen images and video before that made me shudder but being in the City is different.  At 8:15 AM on a sunny hot day we laid down next to the dome for three minutes with people from all backgrounds and I stared at the sky and tried to imagine through the tears the terror that came and exploded 600 meters directly above us in the sky 68 years ago.   But how can one imagine the horror of dropping a nuclear weapon on a population incinerating and skeletonizing tens of thousands and leaving tens of thousands with burned body skin hanging in rags and worse. Harder to imagine yet is the darkness of the human hearts and minds that took the decisions to do that to fellow human beings.
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Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick explained eloquently about the real reasons for dropping the bombs instead of the mythology that is told in school books in America.  But does that really make any difference on the horror of what Truman and his generals visited on humanity? Those of us in the medical field understand clinically what radiation poisoning does to the human body but politicians also know that and Truman had detailed reports from the earlier experiments.  I met so many hibakushas (survivors of the nuclear blast) and their children and grandchildren.  Many told us of the dramatic death of children by leukemia and other cancers and of the congenital deformities.  It was more than we could take even as visitors so I can only begin to imagine the actual feelings of people here.
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Clearly the monuments to victims were slanted strongly away from nationalism and war; something that reminded us that it is possible for victims to learn that war and nationalism are not the answer.  I wished more people can learn that lesson and change the misleading pro-war pro-Zionist message of many holocaust museums to build instead a pro-peace structure.
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On the positive side, we were thrilled to see so many children and youth taking the banner of peace.  Middles school children collected signatures to ban nuclear weapons around the world. Hundreds of us marched to the electric company in town to ask that they stop using nuclear power (especially poignant after the disastrous Fukushima plant meltdown).   Our colorful Palestinian Kuffiyas were welcomed among the colorful banners in our march. We felt love and peace. We saw alternating images of hope and pain and of beautiful people who face-up to right-wing politicians and the few racists who even deny what Japanese soldiers did in China and Korea. Like a roller-coaster, a tour of Japan brings mixed emotions.
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As a visiting Palestinian I am struck most of all by the neatness and orderliness of the cities.  Everything runs perfectly.  Trains are accurate to the minute.  Millions ride on these trains both within cities and between cities.  Streets are clean and no walls or checkpoints stop us from freely moving around.  It is all orderly and peaceful.  Crossing streets on cues, trash in its receptacles, lines are straight, and cars and homes are clean and orderly.  Just about everyone speaks in low tones and people are courteous to each other.
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Japan like most countries is a society burdened by Western style capitalism.  Here you see also things like McDonalds, Starbucks, prostitution, and corrupt politicians.   Though more homogeneous than other countries, Japan is a very large country of 120 million people and even in a short visit one sees remarkable diversity of ideas and concepts.  In Nagoya, we visited an educational table at the main square that tried to challenge the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty (a US Dominated agreement favorable to corporations at the expense of people). The organizer of this table belonged to one of the few native communities of Japan, a great man by the name of Esaman.  People stopped by bringing food and sharing stories.  In the same square a lone young musician played his guitar asking for donations to build a school in a remote area of Pakistan.
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In Nagoya, I attended a discussion of writings by Kobayashi Takiji.  The audience were some 30 individuals of diverse background who put their shoes at the entrance of the lecture hall and wore red slippers as they listened intently to a retired bookstore seller discuss and pass around the books by Takiji.  Takiji was born in 1903 and showed a talent for writing at an early age. His writings did not please authorities and he was fired from his job and eventually executed by the government at age 30 y.o. His most famous short novel is called  Kanikōsen and it is a story about workers at a boat fishing for crabs.  The story takes you into an incredible world of suffering of the workers, humanity to fellow workers, and cruelty of their boss.  There seemed to be a revival of the interest in this genre of literature after the last Japanese economic bubble burst.
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Many Japanese yearn for a more caring society and support global solidarity, including with Palestine. This was shown vividly in our visit to Nagoya and Hiroshima.   I reflect on the people I met and saw in get-together, on the streets, in trains, and in restaurants.  Here I would see people who reminded me of people I met in America, in Palestine and elsewhere.  I thought someone should do a documentary on this carrying a camera around different countries to show that there are individuals in each country virtually twins with those living in other countries.  Perhaps this film can bring us all closer to one another.  In the meantime, I cannot wait for our upcoming visit to Nagasaki, Osaka, Tokyo, and Kyoto. And I cannot wait to go back to Palestine where hope against all odds still survives.  Stay tuned.
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Speech by Professor Qumsiyeh in Hiroshima on the 68th anniversary of the First Atomic Bomb
Kumbunwa and thank you for this invitation.  It is a special honor for me to visit Japan.  Here in Hiroshima we are most reminded of the horrors of war.  Here we have a chance to reflect on the fact that there is no “good war”.  We are reminded that nations do not win or lose wars.  Wars cause the suffering of common people and makes rich people richer.   Money wins wars, people lose wars. That is why President Eisenhauer warned about the power of the military-industrial complex.  It is a power we were reminded of by Oliver Stone earlier today. It is this complex that was enriched as US taxpayers were left with 3 trillion dollars more in debt due to the criminal war on Iraq.    And it was the same Truman that lied publicly about why he created the catastrophes of Hiroshima and Nagazaki and also the catastrophe (Nakba) of Palestine.
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War, as General Butler correctly observed, war is a racket.  It is a way to make money for rich people at the expense of poor people.  And that is why wars will continue unless common people revolt to stop them. And we the people were able to stop wars before for example in Vietnam and in South Africa. It is this power of the people that I am most optimistic about.
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I am one of 12 million Palestinians in the world, 2/3rd of us are refugees or displaced people and the rest live under rule of a foreign government.  How did this come about and how can we stop this war on the people?
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Palestinians are the endogenous people of the Western Part of the Fertile Crescent in Western Asia.  Key milestones in human civilization occurred in this Land of Canaan: animal and plant domestication, development of the alphabet, and development of laws and religions.
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We had over 11,000 years of civilization with religious and cultural developments.  Short attempts to transform Palestine into one thing or another failed.  This included short lived attempts to make it all Christian or make it all Muslim or make it all Jewish.  The European crusades were a good examples of this. But for 97% of our history, Palestine remained mutli-religious and mutli-cultural.
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Since the late 19th century, the new political idea of Zionism was developed to create a “Jewish state” in Palestine. At that time less than 3% of the population in Palestine was Jewish. This Zionist colonization was aided by western countries notably England and more recently the USA.
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An organized and ruthless project to ethnically cleanse the native Palestinians was organized resulting in countless massacres and total destruction of 530 Palestinian villages and towns. It is still the largest refugee crisis after World War II. In that sense my grandmother is a hibakusha.
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Today 7 million Palestinians are refugees and five million of us still live on 8.3% of our historic land.  The state of Israel was built on the destruction of Palestine. Israel has 55 laws that specifically discriminate against native Palestinians. It fulfills the international legal definition of an apartheid (racial discrimination) state.
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Zionists like all other colonial imperial powers try to portray the victims as terrorists. European colonization always did that whether in the Americas or in Africa or in Asia.  It maybe convenient to say that we are white civilized people who “circle the wagons” to protect ourselves from native savages. But the truth is that colonization is violence and 10 times more native civilians are killed than invading people.
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I can tell you hundreds of stories of the brutality of occupation and colonization.  I can tell you about home demolitions, about removal of people from their land, about murders, and about torture. I can tell you about breaking bones of Palestinian children, about using white phosphorous on schools and about Israel’s nuclear weapons. I can tell you about toxic waste dumped on Palestinian villages. I can tell you about prisoners held for years without seeing lawyers or judges.I could tell you about friends I lost killed in peaceful demonstrations.  I could tell you my own family stories of suffering. But we do not have time.
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I will tell you that Palestinians resisted for the past 100 years this onslaught.  This Palestinian resistance took hundreds of forms, most of them unarmed. We had 13 uprisings, on average one every 10 years. South Africa under apartheid had a long struggle with 15 uprisings.
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We Palestinians have been innovative in our struggle.  We had the first demonstration in human history to use automobiles (cars) when in 1929 Palestinian women gathered 120 cars and drove down the old streets of Jerusalem. We lobbied the Ottoman Empire and the British empire to stop supporting colonialist Zionism. We engaged in tax revolts and other forms of civil disobedience.
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We also asked and still ask the international community to help us.  Tens of thousands joined our struggle. There is the International solidarity movement.  As in the struggle against apartheid in south Africa, there is also the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS).  We ask you to join us because this struggle is the most important.  It is important because it exposes clearly the hypocrisy of Western governments who speak of democracy and human rights but directly support racism, tyranny, war, and all violations of human rights.
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We share this one small blue planet and the era of nuclear weapons when a country like Israel could destroy the earth, we cannot afford to be complacent.  We must prove Haegel wrong when he wrote that “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” We do learn from our common history and today in the age of the internet, we are beginning a global uprising against nuclear weapons and against war. When people power is finally realized through global solidarity, we can not only win over war but also over poverty and over climate change and over apathy/indifference.  That is really a future worth sacrificing for.
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The Budhists tell us to have “joyful participation in the sorrows of this world”.  Participation is the key.  So indeed may you all have  joyful participation in the sorrows of this world….  Arigatu, thank you, shukran, peace, salam.
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Also see THIS post from the Archives

IN PHOTOS ~~ 10,000 STRONG MARCH IN NEW YORK MARCH FOR GAZA’S CHILDREN

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The continuing slaughter of innocents in Gaza brought a crowd of what one police officer estimated to be 10,000 people into the streets of New York on Friday.  They met at the headquarters of CNN and then marched through the crowded theater district to the Fox News Building.  At both places they accused the corporate news entities of lying to the public and shouted “Shame!” repeatedly.  The crowd was mostly young, multi ethnic, sad, and very angry.  The tourists on the streets along Broadway looked astonished and fascinated.  They read the signs and explained what was happening to their children.  Some gave a thumbs-up and said they were glad to see people out protesting what was happening.  It seemed that very many of the demonstrators were young Palestinian Americans who felt a strong tie to the Palestinian people  struggling in Palestine and Israel and wanted to express strong feelings of solidarity with them  as well as protest the torment that Israel was inflicting.  Golda Meir is reputed to have said, in reference to the Palestinian people, the old will die and the young will forget.  Judging by who has been in the streets over the past 3 weeks, she couldn’t have been more wrong.  These young people know exactly who they are, what has happened to them, and they are not about to forget anything.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer … Commentary above by Chippy Dee

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WE CANNOT SAY
WE DID NOT KNOW

ONCE AGAIN IN SHOCK
ONCE AGAIN IN SORROW
ONCE AGAIN ENRAGED

We carry the names of the dead in Gaza.
In the name of decency we must act.

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Photo credit Laura Krasovitzky
 
On July 31, 2014, we gathered to mourn Palestinians killed in Gaza by Israeli military forces. We read some of their names aloud.  We marched silently from Bryant Park to the Israeli Consulate in New York City wearing names of those who were murdered.

The March of The Dead continues.

Some of us wore death masks to represent the massacre of civilian populations throughout Gaza. At the site of the Israeli Consulate
eight masked activists were arrested.

Actions around the world continue in solidarity
with the people of Palestine.

We will not be silent.

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Photo credit Bud Korotzer
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Photo credit Michael Nigro
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   Photo credit Belén Suárez

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Photo credit Len Tsou

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Photo credit Lisa Guido

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Photo credit Belén Suárez

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Photo credit Bud Korotzer

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Photo credit Lisa Guido

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Photo credit Laura Krasovitzky

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Photo credit Laura Krasovitzky

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Click here to view more photos. 

GAZA POSTER OF THE DAY

Click on Image to enlarge

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HAVE A LOOK AT ISRAEL’S SUPPORTERS IN NEW YORK

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Somebody from a great pro-Palestinian group called Existence is Resistance was on our walk through the diamond district last week and did a short video of the welcoming we got there.  They were quite willing to rip us to pieces.

And ‘New York’s Finest’ would have let them

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Racist Zionists Spew Hatred at Protestors

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A few hundred activists met outside of the New York Public Library for a demonstration and march against the string of atrocities in Gaza which have taken over 800 Palestinian lives so far. While the rhetoric coming out of Washington and Tel Aviv cites the rocket-fire from resistance groups in Gaza as the cause of this latest massacre, the march sought to highlight the real root of the problem – the continued ethnic cleansing and occupation of Palestine.

Shortly thereafter, en route to another institution, the march passed through NYC’s diamond district, specifically, 47th St between 5th and 6th Avenues. Here, marchers were thronged by what appeared to be an impromptu counter-protest where chants of “Israel! Israel!” soon echoed down the block. I found myself lagging behind and recording the spectacle – supporters of Israel whipped into a frenzy at the sight of pro-Palestine activists, engaging in racist and Islamophobic language, calling for more ethnic cleansing, and even threatening to physically attack.

It’s important to understand the mindset that informs Zionism. This is it in its purest state. A frenzied, foaming nationalism that desperately expresses open hatred for anything that appears to disagree with its racist agenda to steal indigenous land. Some choice lines:

“Get the hell out of our state… Go to Iran… Iran is your place! Go, go with your families… get out!”

“Down with Palestine! Fuck the Palestinians!… Get the fuck outta here you mother fuckers.”

“You son of a bitch! You son of a bitch!”

“I bet your Jewish!”

“You’re luck you got cops here!… you only do this when cops are around! Pussies!… you’re a nut… you better pray there are cops around the corner.”

“How does it feel to be a terrorist? Does it feel good?”

“There is no Allah. It’s all hell for you!”

NEW YORKERS REFUSE TO REMAIN SILENT ~~ PHOTO ESSAY

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The demonstration was organized by WE WILL NOT BE SILENT,  a group of artists and activists who take the name  from the words of the sister and brother anti-Nazi activists in Hitler’s Germany who formed the group known as the White Rose.  They were both captured and executed.  Scores of people met in Bryant Park, stood in a line while each wore the name of one of the people murdered in Gaza and a member of the group read some of the names of those killed.  At noon they began a slow walk of mourning in a single file to the Israeli Consulate. Once they reached their destination twelve members of the group staged a die-in  in front of the Consulate bringing traffic to a stop on busy 2nd Avenue.  They were arrested for this act of civil disobedience, a tactic frequently used by Dr. Martin Luther King.  This week there have been several such acts in New York and in other cities with some being initiated by Jewish  Voice for Peace but most others came about through people, in a state of anguish and rage, making connections on facebook and coming together to express their pain, their anger, and their need to say, not in my name.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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THE REDEMPTION OF NORMAN FINKELSTEIN

Norman said ….. and now he’s saying it again!

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In the recent past we have had some major differences with Dr.Norman Finkelstein. He literally put a knife in the back of the Pro Palestinian Movement with his statements and actions.

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By his own actions of the past week he totally redeemed himself. The wounds from the stabbing are still there, but now there is hope that they will soon heal.

From my personal Mantra … NEVER SAY NEVER!

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From his own Blog …

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Norman Finkelstein: “For 20 days I have sat in front of this computer like a mad man. Tomorrow I will be arrested and arrested and arrested until this madness ends.”
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From The Nation …

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Why It Matters That Norman Finkelstein Just Got Arrested Outside the Israeli Consulate

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Israeli-Palestinian peace protesters in New York City on July 29, 2014. Photo by Michelle Goldberg.

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At 12:30 pm today, a few dozen people laid down in the street at the intersection of 43rd Street and Second Avenue, stopping traffic from reaching the 42nd Street block housing the Israeli Consulate. Around them, a hundred or so people chanted from the sidewalks for the end of the occupation and the slaughter in Gaza. The writer Norman Finkelstein, a fierce critic of both Israel and of the BDS movement, had called the protest the day before. “A lot of people feel that going to a demonstration every three days doesn’t rise to the occasion, the immensity of the horror,” he told me. He noted that the Israeli bombing of Gaza is now in its twenty-first day, “which means it’s one day short of Cast Lead,” the assault on Gaza that began at the end of 2008. And there is no sign that this war is going to stop anytime soon.

The action didn’t last long. After issuing a few warnings for the demonstrators to move, the police swooped in, handcuffing people and carrying those who let their bodies go limp. Traffic was stopped for, at most, twenty minutes. Still, it didn’t seem like a futile effort, because this is a moment when it’s particularly important to break through the illusion, which pervades our politics, that American support for Israel and its war in Gaza is unshakable.

Already, there are anecdotal signs that conventional New York opinion, which tends to be liberal on everything except Palestine, is starting to shift. “If Netanyahu is so bothered by how dead Palestinians look on television then he should stop killing so many of them,” wrote Benjamin Wallace-Wells in a piece on New York magazine’s website last week, a sentiment that would have been hard to imagine coming from that publication a few years ago. Today, the magazine’s DC columnist Jonathan Chait, an occasionally hawkish veteran of The New Republic, has a posttitled, “Why I Have Become Less Pro-Israel.” According to a recent CNN poll, while a majority of Americans continue to support Israel, 38 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the country, up fourteen points since February.

I don’t want to overstate this—after all, 10,000 people showed up at a pro-Israel rally in front of the United Nations yesterday. Even there, however, there were a couple of people with signs, in English, Arabic and Hebrew, mourning the dead in Gaza. “To the older woman who kept following me with her own ‘Stand with Israel’ sign to block my own sign and yelling out loud—look at the traitor—he’s a mamzer—a bastard—I turned and said, calmly—my father is a Holocaust Survivor, please respect him if not me,” wrote the rabbinical student Amichai Lau-Lavie. “To which she replied—he should have died there. There were other obscene and racist statements that I won’t describe.” People like this woman, obviously, are not reachable. But others might be. What’s happening is simply so brutal and inexcusable that it makes the rote rationalizations of Israel’s apologists sound ever more risible.

So it’s important for people who feel, intuitively, that there is something deeply wrong happening in Gaza to see others fighting for that conviction. Among those who were taken into custody today was Corey Robin, a Jewish professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Robin is a longtime critic of Israel, but he’d never before been arrested over it. “I finally felt like I had to do something,” he said a few moments before lying down in the street. “This is my first time doing this for Palestine. If it’s my first time, it’s going to be somebody else’s first time, if not now, then another time.

PHOTOS OF ‘DIE-IN’ AND MARCH FOR GAZA IN NEW YORK

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The demonstrators made a short tour of financial institutions in midtown Manhattan that are supporting Israeli policies financially and aiding in colonization.  The demonstrators stopped at 2 banks and walked through the diamond district where many were glad to have a heavy police escort since the business owners appeared to become
agitated and threatening.  In front of one of the banks 6 people performed an act of civil disobedience by having a die-in after spraying the bank and street with fake blood.  Using passive resistance, the police were forced to lift  and carry them to the police van to arrest them.
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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The Die-In and arrests …
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And the march …
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In the afternoon several thousand people of every age, race, and ethnicity
converged on Times Sq. for a rally against the Gaza massacre.  Families came
with their flags, posters, and beautiful children.  After the rally everyone
marched across busy 42nd St. to the Israeli Consulate. They got considerable
support from people standing aside to watch the marchers pass.
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Diamond merchants seem to have a problem with the marchers … I guess zionism is their BEST FRIEND
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‘SHOOTING’ AGAINST THE OCCUPATION

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Anti-war demonstrations during wartime are not unusual in Israel. They rarely bring out more than a few hundred people, as did this one. It was an event that most Israeli news outlets deemed not important enough to cover, especially when Hamas’s rockets were flying all over the country. But Oren Ziv was there with his camera.

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Full report HERE

PHOTOS ~~ THOUSANDS PARICIPATE IN COALITION MARCH FOR PEACE IN NEW YORK

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The demonstration and march, organized by a coalition of groups supporting justice in Palestine, began at Foley Sq. where the names of children murdered in Gaza were read.  Some in the crowd of approximately 2,000 were weeping.  Led by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra the mile and 1/2 march weaving west through the busy streets of lower Manhattan to the shore of the Hudson began.  It was a noisy chanting group carrying Palestinian flags and signs demanding an end to the U.S. funding of Israel, an end to the occupation, and a cease to the slaughter by Israel in Gaza.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Also see THIS report from the Forward

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Not in Our Name: New Yorkers rally against Israeli war in Gaza in lower Manhattan.

MARTYNA STAROSTA
Not in Our Name: New Yorkers rally against Israeli war in Gaza in lower Manhattan.

THE WAR IS MAKING ‘CRIMINALS’ OF ALL OF US

Jewish Activists Arrested in Sit in at Friends of Israel Defense Forces NYC Office

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Following is a letter I received this morning from The Jewish Voice of Peace

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Dear Steve,

Yesterday, I was part of a delegation of activists from Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! who took over the Friends of the IDF headquarters in New York.  Until we were arrested, we read the names and ages of the dead and sang songs of mourning, often with our voices breaking and tears rolling down our faces. We stood there for an hour, reading the names steadily, and still did not read them all.

As I was taken out in handcuffs to face a sea of about 30 police officers, I asked a staff member of the Friends of the IDF standing nearby, “Did you hear the names we read? Did you see that we read them for an hour and didn’t reach the end? Is this what you support? Are these the Jewish values you grew up with?”

As Jews, so many of us have been brought up on stories of our families’ lives hanging in the balance based on the courage of someone who had the choice to speak up or remain silent.

We are in that kind of moment now. And that is why I, and so many other people like me, are taking action. And why we need you to stand up with us.

Over 600 people in Gaza killed in the last three weeks. Thousands of homes destroyed, another 4,000 people wounded. US tax dollars have helped pay for that army, and Israel claims to act in the name of all the Jews the world over.

But you can do something about it. We all must do something about it.

Click here to send a message to President Obama and Congress demanding they withdraw support for Israel’s unacceptable, intolerable actions.

The glimmer of hope I have in these very dark days comes from you – our members, supporters, and allies who are standing up, all over the world.

In Washington, D.C., Jewish Voice for Peace members, alongside members of CodePink, interrupted a Christians United for Israel conference while Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer was speaking. Despite being violently attacked, they continued their protest.

In Boston, over a thousand people, JVP’ers and a large coalition of allied organizations rallied in front of the state house and blocked traffic for several hours.

In Chicago, five activists from JVP and AFSC were arrested protesting at Hewlett Packard, and in the Bay Area JVP’ers conducted a die-in at HP to protest its profiting from Israel’s war crimes. Seattle members did the same at Boeing.

I could go on and on:  protests in Ithaca; Portland, OR; Portland, ME; St. Louis, Jersey City. There are more places than I can count, and more to come.  Everywhere we—you—are getting our pro-peace, pro-justice, pro-equality message out. We are taking a stand.

All over the world, you’ve signed Open Letters, gone to rallies, contacted elected officials, written Letters to the Editor, shared educational materials, and dared difficult conversations with your family and friends.

But the attack continues. The siege continues. We’re going to have to continue to step it up.

I hope you’ll join us in action, as long as it takes. Click here for a listing of actions nationwide JVP is participating in.

It is our shared responsibility to end this bloodshed. And I know we can.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Vilkomerson
Executive Director

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And here you can see a debate between Ali Abunimah and J.J. Goldberg, editor-at-large and columnist at the newspaper The Jewish Daily Forward. The topic, needless to say is the war on Gaza …..

AS THE WAR EFFORT GROWS, SO DOES THE JEWISH OPPOSITION TO IT ~~ IN PHOTOS

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They say .. “The little boys who were blown-up by the IDF while playing soccer on the beach were there to hide a missile launcher so their blood is really on Hamas’ hands.”

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We say .. “Not another nickel, not another dime.  No more money for Israel’s crimes” and “Jews stand with Gaza.  End the occupation”.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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The home of the Friends of the IDF in NYC

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And their best friends …

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Watch here as they arrest 9 of the activists …. warning them in advance, not unlike the IDF that warns Gazans that their home will soon be bombed … (From Alex Kane at Mondoweiss)

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And the friends of humanity …

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ANOTHER SANE JEWISH VOICE IN AN INSANE WORLD

This kneejerk labeling of critics of Israel as “anti-Semitic” (or in my case, a “self-hating Jew”) made me even more firm in my conviction that it was the special obligation of U.S. Jews to stand against racism in Israel. As more of us demanded equal rights for all in Israel/Palestine, it became harder to smear supporters of Palestine as “anti-Semitic.”

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Ellen Davidson (center) participates in a vigil for Palestinian rights. Photo: Carl Strock

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This Jew can’t support Israel

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Growing up in my Jewish family, it was a given that Jews supported civil rights, opposed the Vietnam War and believed in education, science and progress. This didn’t make it easy to be a teenager in a small working-class town in central Pennsylvania, an area not known for either diversity or liberal views at the time. Israel was a distant place where survivors of the brutal European Holocaust struggled to live in peace, occasionally beset by terrorists and attacking armies from the surrounding countries.

When I went to college, naturally, I became active in the late-1970s campus movement for divestment from South Africa. Somewhere along the line, I realized that Israel was the only country in the world that violated the international arms embargo on the apartheid state, and that Israel was on the wrong side of all the struggles for freedom and national liberation I supported, that it backed dictatorships in Guatemala, Chile, Brazil and elsewhere.

The more I learned about Israel, the more I realized that what I had been taught growing up was a lie. But I also discovered that, even in the progressive movements in the 1980s, the issue was contentious. I spent my twenties working at the Guardian radical newsweekly, a paper that staunchly supported Palestinian rights; periodically we would lose a significant segment of our readership due to our alleged “anti-Semitism,” and we would receive occasional bomb threats from the Jewish Defense League, a nasty organization whose members would physically attack participants in pro-Palestine demonstrations.

This kneejerk labeling of critics of Israel as “anti-Semitic” (or in my case, a “self-hating Jew”) made me even more firm in my conviction that it was the special obligation of U.S. Jews to stand against racism in Israel. As more of us demanded equal rights for all in Israel/Palestine, it became harder to smear supporters of Palestine as “anti-Semitic.” The needle on this debate has moved considerably since the 1980s, when just to say the word “Palestinian” was considered inflammatory, even in some left circles.

These days, as Israelis rampage through the streets of Jerusalem calling for killing all Arabs and Gaza is once again bombarded in a storm of collective punishment, the racist underpinnings of the Jewish state become harder to ignore. This is drawing larger numbers of people into pro-Palestinian protests on the streets of this country.

Indeed, at a July 13 vigil I attended in Woodstock, New York, there were many faces I had never seen before. But not everything has changed. A hostile group of tourists walked by and began berating us for our stance. “You should try talking to some Jews,” said one man. “We are Jews,” two of us answered simultaneously. “Then you’re fucked up,” he snapped.

In the past decade, I have made a point of traveling to Israel/Palestine, so that I can both show my solidarity in person and bring back firsthand accounts of the conditions in the occupied territories and within the formal borders of Israel. I have never encountered anything but warm welcome from the Palestinians I encountered.

When I return, every time I speak as a Jew of personally seeing demolished Palestinian houses, military checkpoints, the concrete wall separating communities from their farmland, the overcrowded refugee camps built as temporary solutions 60 years ago, I like to think that it widens the crack that has been opening up in the U.S. Jewish community, leaving just a little more space for honest discussion of what is being done in our name.

ISRAEL WELCOMES FRANCE TO THE LEAGUE OF TYRANTS

France became the first country in the world to ban pro Palestinian demonstrations …. does this make them ‘The Only Democracy In Europe?’ (sic)

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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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Israel-Gaza conflict: French minister Bernard Cazeneuve backs ban on pro-Palestinian protests in Paris

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 The French Interior Minister argued the protest could threaten public order
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Thousands of protesters were expected to march in Paris over the weekend and call for an end to the violence in Gaza, as it emerged on Friday that the Israeli military had killed 296 Palestinians in the renewed conflict – including a baby, four children and a 70-year-old woman since Thursday.  One Israeli civilian and one IDF soldier have died in the 11-day conflict.

Citing a “threat to public order”, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve backed the police ban on the widely-advertised mass demonstrations, after members of the Jewish Defence League (LDJ) and pro-Palestinian groups clashed last Sunday.

He also advised other police prefects to consider banning planned rallies on a “case by case” basis.

Videos from rallies last week reportedly showed armed LDJ vigilantes attempting to tempt pro-Palestinian demonstrators into fights.

“I consider that the conditions are not right to guarantee security,” Mr Cazeneuve said regarding the main Paris march, according to theMail Online.

On Friday evening, lawyers for a number of groups responded by lodging an appeal against the ban in a Paris court.

Attending an illegal demonstration is punishable by a year in prison, and a €15,000 fine – a penalty which rises to a three year sentence and a €45,000 fine if a demonstrator covers their face to avoid being identified.

Meanwhile, publicising an illegal demonstration on social media can lead to a year-long prison sentence, and a €15,000 fine. This increases to seven years and a 100,000 fine if the post sparks violence.

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French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve at the National Assembly in Paris (Getty)

French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve at the National Assembly in Paris (Getty)

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Youssef Boussoumah, of the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic (PIR), told the website: “France is criminalising any show of solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

“This is an absolute outrage, it is a continuation of attempts to muzzle the Palestinian people and to get them and their supporters in France to surrender absolutely to Israel’s oppression,” he added.

False reports following last week’s protests claimed that pro-Palestinian demonstrators had damaged synagogues during the rally, but it later emerged none of the religious buildings had been targeted.

A judicial inquiry is to be launched into the false allegations.

NEW YORKERS HONOUR THE MARTYRS OF GAZA ~~ IN PHOTOS

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Mock Funeral held for the victims …

We met in Bryant Park behind the 42nd St. library, read the names of the dead, and then began a silent walk, only the sound of a drum, across 42nd St to the Israeli Consulate on 2nd Ave. We carried signs, Palestinian flags, figures of people wrapped in white, and some wore blood stained shrouds.  People on the crowded streets stood aside and watched our long line pass.  Some took photos.  When we got to the consulate we chanted and after about an hour we went to the Egyptian Consulate and did the same there.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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ISRAEL TRIED TO DROWN THE HOPE OF GAZA

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One of the greatest sources of inspiration and hope in Gaza is the Gaza  Ark Project …. a constant threat to zion as they worked tirelessly to destroy it.

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However, it is now clear that Gaza’s Ark was deliberately targeted by Israel (for the second time). Israel is not worried about its security as it claims, what it is worried about and afraid of are peaceful projects like ours that expose its atrocities.

The good news is that no one was killed or injured in this attack as we had decided to pull the guard off the boat two days earlier, for his own safety.

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One of the participants of the project wrote the following FOR

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Why Did Israel Target Gaza’s Ark?

Ehab Lotayef*

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After being kidnapped from international waters, imprisoned in Israel, then deported for being on the Canadian boat to Gaza challenging Israel’s illegal blockage of the Gaza Strip in November 2011, I was only more determined to continue challenging that inhuman, unjustified and illegal blockade of a civilian population.

Throughout the months that followed myself and others put a lot of thought into how to continue challenging the blockade in a peaceful but effective manner. The naval challenges of the Israeli blockade of Gaza had started in 2008, before operation Cast Lead, the attack Israel launched against Gaza which left 1,400 dead in addition to the thousands injured. It continued throughout the years in the form of boats financed by civilians and NGOs worldwide and sailed from Cyprus, Greece and Turkey to Gaza.

After the first few missions reaching Gaza in 2008, Israel started fiercely attacking the boats and the activists on board. The violence Israel was showing reached new criminal heights on May 31, 2010, when it killed nince activists on the Mavi Marmara in cold blood. But as you can see, these murders did not stop our attempts to challenge the blockade.

In 2012 we decided to challenge the blockade in a new way. We decided to build a cargo ship inside Gaza using whatever resources were available and filling it with local products, purchased and paid for in advance by buyers all over the world. We planned to sail it out from Gaza — challenging the blockade from the inside out.

Gaza’s Ark had elements that other blockade-challenging efforts did not. Building a boat in Gaza created work opportunities in an area where unemployment is rampant due to the Israeli blockade. It gave the Palestinians in Gaza a a sense of empowerment by participating in the effort to challenge the blockade rather than wait for international boats to do so. It encouraged trade and manufacturing as international buyers ordered and paid for local products.

Above all, it totally disarmed Israeli claims that the blockade is for security reasons. If Israel would stop it from sailing what would be the rational? If Israel would stop the Ark, it would be exposed that the reason for the blockade is not security. How does a boat sailing out of Gaza threaten Israel’s security?

It seems Israel feared our peaceful plans supported and financed by thousands and thousands of normal individuals worldwide more than we expected or anticipated. On April 29 our boat, Gaza’s Ark, was subjected to a terrorist attack and nearly sunk in the port of Gaza just as we were finishing up construction.

But the boat did not sink. We pulled it to shore and started repairing it. Repairs were going well and we were projecting a September sailing date when the current Israeli attack on Gaza started.

Early morning on Friday, July 11, Gaza’s Ark received a direct hit by a shell fired from an Israeli navel vessel which badly damaged the boat and started a fire on board. The civil defense and fire brigades could not get to the boat to extinguish the fire quickly enough due to the continuous shelling of the port that night and the boat was completely destroyed.

The loss of Gaza’s Ark pales in comparison to the loss of life and injuries the people are facing in Gaza. If we can sacrifice a dozen boats to save one child’s life we would without hesitation. But Israel obviously thought Gaza’s Ark was very valuable and targeted it specifically.

Israel commits its atrocities hiding behind a smoke screen of lies and half truths, claiming always to be the victim. There is nothing as threatening to Israel as a peaceful project that will expose its lies. Thus it had to kill Gaza’s Ark.

We may build another boat. We may not and find other ways to challenge the blockade. Either way we will continue to work hard till the blockade of Gaza ends.

* Ehab Lotayef, a member of the Steering Committee of Gaza’s Ark and a spokes person for the project, is an IT engineer at McGill University in Montreal.

NEW YORKERS CONTINUE TO SHOW SUPPORT FOR GAZA ~~ IN PHOTOS

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As the bombings continue, so do the demonstrations for Peace in Gaza. Here at the UN Building yesterday, New Yorkers (mostly young Muslims) stand (and drive) for Justice in Palestine.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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And tomorrow in New York …

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Emergency Vigil & Flyering – Friday, July 11 6 PM @ Union Square

 

Click HERE to see photo gallery

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Also planned …

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In the words of our beloved friend and the martyr Vittorio Arrigoni:

“Stay human”
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IT IS NOW ‘KOSHER’ TO OPPOSE AIPAC AND COMPANY

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Organizations like the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Jewish Voice for Peace have both taken advantage of and pushed forward this discourse shift. The real challenge now is how to use this change, how to use the near-normalization of criticism of Israel to broaden the work, to engage with organizations and institutions and—gasp!—even members of Congress who have never touched this issue before and who still assume it’s political suicide to criticize Israel. We know now it certainly isn’t, and we have to figure out how to move to the next, far more difficult stage of turning discourse shift into real policy change.

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Why Opposing the Israel Lobby Is No Longer Political Suicide

ANTI WAR ACTIONS IN NEW YORK THIS WEEK

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Sent by our Associates Chippy and Bud

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NYC Rally For Israel, Pro-Palestinian Protesters Counter-Demonstration

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And on Friday …

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In the words of our beloved friend and the martyr Vittorio Arrigoni:

“Stay human”
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IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS DEFY THEIR ELECTED OFFICIALS AND STAND WITH PALESTINE … NOT WITH ISRAEL!

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NY elected officials say that New York Stands with Israel? Let’s tell them where we stand!
Our elected officials including City Councilmembers Mark Levine and David Greenfield, Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Assemblymember David Weprin are using their positions as representatives of the people of New York to lend support to Israel’s abuses and violations of international law.
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While the toll in Gaza climbs above 150 people dead and 1100 wounded, while Israel continues to attack and oppress Palestinians in its 67th year of dispossession and colonization, while the international BDS movement grows, we say these officials don’t speak for us!
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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Other actions of support …
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From South Africa
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From Detroit
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From Israel itself

RESULTS OF ISRAELI TRAINED HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICERS

A federal Homeland Security officer fired his weapon in the direction of counter demonstrators at a rally in support of Israel held in Los Angeles.
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Israel trains US policeSlowly, every police department in the United States, at the behest of the Department of Homeland Security, is being trained by Israeli groups.

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                                               And the results …

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Shots Fired by Federal Officer at Los Angeles Pro-Palestnian Protesters

Homeland Security Fires on Anti-Israel Demonstrators

By JTA VIA

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A federal Homeland Security officer fired his weapon in the direction of counter demonstrators at a rally in support of Israel held in Los Angeles.

Some 1,200 people attended the rally Sunday afternoon in front of the Federal Building in West Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department told the Los Angeles Times.

During the rally, at least three men waving Palestinian flags and carrying wooden sticks arrived at the rally and allegedly hit some of the protesters, according to the Jewish Journal.

The men, who told the newspaper that they were Palestinians living in Anaheim, returned to their truck and drove off after the melee was broken up.

As they left, a Department of Homeland Security officer fired his gun in the direction of the truck, Brian Thomas of the LAPD West Los Angeles Patrol Division, told the Jewish Journal. The men reportedly were stopped and handcuffed, after they left the scene of the demonstration.

Speakers at the pro-Israel demonstration included Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Roz Rothstein co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs; Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer; and Israeli actress and activist Noa Tishby.

A counter demonstration of about 200 Palestinian supporters was held across the street from the pro-Israel demonstration.

Several streets in the area of the demonstration were blocked off into Sunday evening, according to CBSLA.

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