Wednesday, December 31, 2008

5,000 Demonstrate Solidarity With Palestine In Dearborn

5,000 Demonstrate for Palestine in Dearborn

Arab-Americans, peace and human rights activists line Warren

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

DEARBORN, Dec. 30--In one of the largest demonstrations in Dearborn in recent years, organizers estimated that some 5,000 people formed a human chain along Warren avenue in Dearborn, the heart of the Arab-American community in metropolitan Detroit, to express solidarity with the plight of the Palestinians now under siege in Gaza by the Israeli military.

Chanting slogans such as "Free, Free Palestine", the crowd flew Palestinian flags on the street along Warren avenue as well as from automobiles driving up and down the streets surrounding the demonstration. Although most of the demonstrators were of Palestinian and Arab heritage, there were several anti-war, peace and solidarity organizations represented who are based in the United States.

These groups oppose the aggressive policies of the Israeli government as well as US funding for Israeli military operations. Some of the groups present at the December 30 action were Jewish Voice for Peace, Solidarity, the Green Party of Detroit, the Palestine Office of Michigan and Jewish Witness for Peace.

The demonstration in Dearborn was called by the Congress of Arab-American Organizations. The editor of the locally published "Arab-American News", Osama Siblani, took decisive leadership in mobilizing the community for the gathering. In addition, Muslims from other nationalities attended the protest in an act of solidarity with the current plight of the Palestinians.

One of the leading anti-war and social justice organizations in the area, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI), participated in the demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinians in Dearborn. MECAWI members held signs calling for the end of the siege of Gaza and for the withdrawal of US aid from the state of Israel.

The MECAWI statement read in part that: "We condemn the U.S. complicity in the siege and bombings of Gaza and demand an immediate halt to ALL United States military and other aid to the outlaw state of Israel. The Zionist state is the largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world and is Washington’s outpost in the Middle East. Every single one of the bombs rained down on the people of Gaza, every single fighter jet and helicopter, every piece of artillery and ammunition, is bought and paid for by the United States – stolen from working peoples’ tax dollars.

"We demand that President-elect Barack Obama end his silence on the terror attacks and condemn Israel’s actions immediately. The millions of people who elected Obama did so in large part because they want peace and an end to endless war and militarism. The murderous onslaught against the people of Gaza requires the voicing of yeah or nay – to remain silent is to condone Israel’s barbaric genocide against the Palestinian people."

The MECAWI statement echoed the sentiment of anti-war forces around the US and the world. Former US Congresswoman and Green Party candidate for President in 2008, Cynthia McKinney, was part of the crew of the "Dignity", a boat seeking to deliver aid to the Palestinians under siege in Gaza. The boat was hit by an Israeli military vessel and refused entry.

In a CNN interview, McKinney appealed to President-elect Obama, to break his silence and to speak out against the humanitarian crisis created by the Isreali military forces in Gaza. Obama has yet to say anything about the Israeli massacres brought on by the aerial bombardments.

The demonstration in Dearborn received extensive press coverage in the Detroit area as well as nationally and internationally. A rally called after the demonstration was filled to capacity. Over 1,000 people could not get in and held a simultaneous gathering outside in the parking lot.

Other activities are being planned in the southeast Michigan area. The Batsheva Dance Company from Israel will be performing in Ann Arbor in February and activists there are calling for protests against the concert. The Palestine solidarity activists see these protests and part and parcel of the campaign for boycotts, disinvestment and sanctions (bds) against the state of Israel.

Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Jews for a Just Peace
in Detroit are planning a public forum at the Royal Oak Public Libary on January 10, from 4:00-6:00pm. Barbara Harvey, an American Jew and labor/civil rights advocate and lawyer will report on current human rights, social and economic conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories through photographs and stories of her recent trip there.

Also MECAWI is planning a public educational meeting in Detroit in January to review the current crisis in light of the historical role of Israel in suppressing the democratic and national rights of the Palestinian people.

1 comment:

Next Year in Al-Quds said...

Thanks for letting your readers know about the Batsheva Dance Company. They can find details on