A Report from Dearborn on anti-Israel protest

Subject: Report from Dearborn anti-Israel protest

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Thousands gather in Dearborn to protest Israeli airstrikes

By Khalil Al-Hajal
Tuesday, 12.30.2008, 10:01pm

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

Protestors stretched from Chase Road to Schaefer Road on the north side of Warren, chanting “One, two, three, four, stop the killing, stop the war,” “Free, free Palestine,” and “Bush and Olmert, you can’t hide, you are guilty of genocide!”
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

Members of the group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) chanted “Black, Latino, Asian, Arab and white, by any means necessary we will fight!”
“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 AbuN

The two said they’re part of the group Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends, which stages weekly demonstrations in Ann Arbor opposing Israeli occupation and policy toward Palestinians.

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

Hasan Newash, of the Palestine Office, said such demonstrations serve to bring the community together in a way that encourages prolonged, continued activism for long-term impact.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

Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News and spokesman for the Congress of Arab American Organizations, which organized the protest, said he believes the demonstration will have a wide impact.
“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

Siblani said the group also raised money through the events Tuesday to put up billboards along Detroit-area highways, “sending a message of peace for the new presidential administration.”

“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.

From TSM: Get out there at FIGHT the madness!! Support Israel. Support America! We Must Not Be Silent!!

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