WASHINGTON - Thousands of Americans - Christians, Muslims and Jews - rallied at the White House Saturday afternoon demanding an end to the brutal Israeli bombing and destruction of the Gaza territory that has killed more than 1,600 Palestinians and many more wounded.
The historic demonstration was the biggest anti-war march in over a generation and bore resemblance to anti-war rallies of the Vietnam War era. The protestors carried signs including: ‘We stand with Gaza,’ ‘‘Free Palestine Let Gaza Live!’ and ‘Stop the Massacre of Gaza.’ They accused Israel of Genocide.
The group’s chants could be heard from the north lawn of the White House, but President Barack Obama was not at home. Several holding Palestinian flags, cardboard boxes decorated as coffins and posters with graphic images of the wounded. ‘It’s an exceptionally large number of protesters,’ said Araz Alali, a police spokesman, who said there were no disturbances during the protest.
Many Jewish Americans were among the crowd, said Shelley Cohens Fudge, who is the Washington D.C. metropolitan chapter coordinator for Jewish Voice for Peace. ‘We have Arab Americans, Jewish Americans, people from Pakistan, people from all walks of life here,’ she said. ‘There are many Jewish Americans who are very upset by the very disproportionate situation - it’s not a war, it’s an assault and an invasion.’
With no electricity for urgent medical care to injured civilians, the situation in Gaza can now be considered a humanitarian crisis, speakers at the rally pointed out. Dr Cornell West, an American philosopher, academic, activist, author, and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America. Carl Messineo, Legal Director of Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, and Brian Becker of Answer Coalition were among the many who rallied crowds. The White House demonstration was significant as nearly all stood in opposition to US policy that promises $3.5 B in military aid to Israel annually. Protesters have said that U.S. funds are being used to support the Gaza war.
Dr West stung the White House with a rebuke of President Obama’s support of Israel, ‘Barak Obama is a war criminal…because his drones have killed 233 innocent children and because he facilitates the killing of innocent Palestinians in Gaza and in the West Bank.’
Brian Becker, criticized the administration for sending more arms to Israel this week, ‘the White House and Congress have the blood of the Palestinian people on their hands.’ ‘This week when Obama made his first tepid criticism of Israel, the Pentagon rushed more bombs and missiles to Israel,’ said Becker.
‘The civilian population in Gaza is under direct attack,’ said Carl Messineo, ‘the Israeli government has declared its military the most moral army in the world-such arrogance, such a perversion-no words can be more cynical or further from the truth.’
Zainab Chaudry, 32, of Columbia, Matland, who is Maryland outreach director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that Florida teenager Cousin of slain Arab teen gets house arrest after scuffle with police , 15, who drew national attention for a video that appeared to show Israeli soldiers beating him while he was on a family trip in the West Bank, was among those in the crowd. Khieder posted a photo to his Instagram account showing his now-healed face as he posed in front of the White House on Saturday. Many cities such as Chicago, New York and London, experienced similar anti-war protests today. The recent uprisings mark a change in sentiment towards the attacks on Gaza. Scores of individuals have vowed to continue to pressure the White House and congressional leaders to change direction when it comes to supporting Israel and the attacks on Gaza.