Gaza Flotilla Fallout: From The Sea To The Streets

In New York, both sides (including some pro-Palestinian Jews) hold rallies.

06/02/10
Staff Writer
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Just one day after nine pro-Palestinian activists were shot dead aboard their ship in a clash with Israeli soldiers, activists on both sides of the issue took to the streets here in separate protest rallies.

“I’m outraged by the way the media portrayed the [Israel Defense Forces] as the bad ones,” said Dr. Elizabeth Layliev, an ob-gyn from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who said it was her first time at a pro-Israel demonstration and that she learned of it from Facebook.

“They were acting as a protective force to make sure no weapons were transferred to Gaza from the ships,” she said of the soldiers. 

Levi Pine, 26, said she decided to attend her first pro-Israel rally because “from every side everyone was banding against Israel and it’s time we put a stop to it and defend ourselves against these so-called peace activists.”

“We need to respond to all accusations against us,” she added. “We can’t sit idly by.”

The pro-Israel rally, which drew about 100 people, was held in front of the Turkish Mission to the United Nations on First Avenue. Organizers, which included the Russian American Jewish Experience, had scheduled it for in front of the Israeli Consulate but a pro-Palestinian rally had already secured a police permit to demonstrate there.

The pro-Palestinian demonstration outside the Israeli Consulate began with about 150 protesters, but later in the evening hundreds of demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags and a “Free Palestine” banner marched through Times Square. 

Several people who said they were part of a group called Jews Say No joined the protest. 

“I feel the [Israeli] blockade and [ship] invasion was being done in my name, and as a Jew I don’t support it,” Ellen Davidson, 50, of Manhattan, said. “When I was 7, Israel began occupying territory and it hasn’t done anything I feel I can support since then.”

Another Jewish pro-Palestinian demonstrator, Judith Ackerman, 68, of Manhattan said she had once supported Israel but turned against it in 1982 after the Sabra and Shatila massacre in a Beirut refugee camp, an incident Israel was widely blamed for allowing. 

“From them on they have been making hell for everyone not Jewish,” she said of the Israeli government. “They are doing in Gaza what the Nazis used to do to us. But instead of putting them in a concentration camp, we bomb them.”

Dorothy Zellner, 72, of Manhattan, who said she has visited Israel eight times, described herself as a “secular Jew with deep roots in the Jewish people.”

“That’s why this is upsetting to me; it’s painful,” she said. 

Asked if she remembers how she felt when the State of Israel was established 62 years ago, Zellner paused and then began to cry. Her family had supported Israel then, she said, but does not endorse the way it is behaving today.

“We don’t murder people,” she said. “We are the people of the book who argue and debate. Whoever heard of murdering nine people? It’s an outrage.”

 

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Last Update:

06/04/2010 - 10:57

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- Alex - Why should Palestinian Arabs have accepted the Peel Commission Plan when 20 years before 87% of the population was not Jewish? The British Government rejected it given the understandable outrage by the local Palestinian Arab community who saw this as an act of imperialism and colonialism by the British dividing up their land. I agree Israel is here to stay. But your insensitivity to the plight of Palestinian Arabs in the 1930s is remarkable. I would also argue (as you would agree) that the plight of Jews in Germany in the 1930s was abominable. And it is a blight on the international community that (a) more Jewish refugees weren't taken in to other parts of Europe, the US, Australia and elsewhere and (b) more pressure was not put on Nazi Germany to change. But that does not mean forcing out another people from their land. That does not ignore the historic, spiritual and cultural connection of the Jewish community to the land or the indigenous Jewish community that was still there - numbering about 4% of the population in 1850 [Check Justin McCarthy's work]. http://palestineisraeltrusteeship.blogspot.com/ http://www.1948.com.au/2008events/national/letters/STEWARTMILLSLettertoRudd.pdf - Susan - The organisers of Free Gaza Movement have made 9 trips. 5 made it (August-December 2008). On the 6th trip their boat was rammed by a patrol boat [read Cynthi McKinney's account] the 7th trip was blocked and the 8th the boat was boarded, the passengers detained and the boat confiscated. The organisers want the siege to end now. The aid they bring is symbolic of the desperate plight of Palestinians. What point is it if they just give the aid to Israel; and then when the spotlight of the world shifts Israel maintains the siege. No Susan, the whole power of this method is to confront Israel's siege and say this is not right. Take for example the issue of cement. Why does Israel not let in cement to Gaza? Why does Israel not let in coffee? It is difficult to confirm what and what is not allowed as evident by Amira Hass' report below. But what is clear is that cement and other building products are banned [which is madness given the devastation from Operation Cast Lead - Imagine the anger people must feel to live in a bombed out area everyday. Is this a conducive environment to build friendship?] Amira Hass reported this 17 May 2009 Gaza merchants are forbidden to import canned goods, plastic sheeting, toys and books, although the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and other aid organizations are permitted to bring them into the strip. ...Petrol and diesel for private cars and public transportation have not been imported from Israel since November 2, 2008, except for a small amount for UNRWA. The union of Gaza's gas station owners estimates that some 100,000 liters of diesel and 70,000 liters of petrol are brought through the tunnels daily. The ban on toilet paper, diapers and sanitary napkins was lifted three months ago Five weeks ago Israel allowed margarine, salt and artificial sweetener to be brought into Gaza. Legumes have been allowed for the past two months and yeast for the past two weeks. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/amira-hass-israel-bans-books-music-and-clothes-from-entering-gaza-1.276147
The ignorance that the three prior posters have of the history of the conflict is staggering. The Jews agreed to a two state solution as early as 1937, but the Arabs rejected it (google Peel Commission Plan), The Israelis agrees to the UN partition plan in 1948 and the Arabs rejected it. In 1967 Israel aimed to give up most of the land it conquered but the heads of Arab governments immediately released an official statement that there will be no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.(Khartoum resolution) The Israelis aimed to give Palestinians more then 90% of the West Bank ,all of Gaza, and East Jerusalem but the Palestinians launched the Intifada. Its very clear which side always opted for compromise and which side pursued conflict with eliminationist objectives( read the Hamas charter, its online in its entirety) Why does Israel owe anything to its existential enemies that want to destroy it ? by the way Gupta Israel pulled out of Gaza completely, but what it got in return were rockets launched at its cities, and a government ruled by Hamas. According to you Israel should accept a state on its border ruled by an entity dedicated to its destruction and which actively pursues this goal. That's very objective on your part.
Susan, You seem like a reasonable person, so please try to put aside your feelings and look at the situation dispassionately. I have no ties whatsoever to either Israel, the Palestinians, the Middle East, etc. The issue is basic justice. When one side has thousands of tanks, hundreds of advanced jet fighters and one of the largest nuclear arsenals and has imprisoned 1.5 million people in the world's largest prison, bombing and staring them, it should be clear who is at wrong. Resistance to occupation is one of the oldest concepts in international law and is a basic human right. The occupied have few choices against the murderous logic against occupation. We may find some methods abhorrent, such as suicide bombs, but the way to end these attacks is to end the occupation. The next knee-jerk defense is to bring up Arab "rejectionism." The Arab states and Palestinians have been asking, begging the U.S. and Israel for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders going back to least 1973. But Israel is a classic settler state that serves the interests of the U.S. So the two have rejected every attempt at a genuine peace settlement. I would recommend that you read some actual histories of the region, particularly the works of Noam Chomsky. I would also suggest you just look at the evidence as what motivates Israel to "aid" Haiti and other countries struck by disaster. In particular, read these stories: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-s-compassion-in-haiti-can-t-hide-our-ugly-face-in-gaza-1.261623 This is from an Israeli doctor who was a prominent member of Israeli disaster-relief efforts for years. He points out the cynical exercise of how Israel uses these operations for P.R. More damning, these relief efforts prioritize hi-tech medical equipment that looks good on camera rather than the type of aid that would actually make a difference. It's completely heartless: http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2010/01/19/the-zionization-of-disaster-relief/ There is nothing noble in the Israeli state's international policy. Just as there is nothing noble in the foreign policy of every occupier and aggressor, whether it's the U.S., Russia, China or India. And there is much to be repulsed about by states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey -- all key U.S. AND Israeli allies. (I would add Iran to this list, too, though its oppressive nature is largely limited to domestic politics.) That's why this conflict will not end until Israel stops trying to colonize the lands of others.
This comment from Ms. Barnes is revealing. She picks out something good Israel did - possibly to make a good name for themselves - and that's all she's got to throw at a woman of conscience who stands up to the McCarthyite consensus of the lock-step support community. So let's see. Israel takes indigenous people's lands, closes Gaza to aid, enforces an occupation the world opposes, and then sends aid to a far-away country while bombing and massacring its indigenous people - 2/3 of whom (in Gaza) are refugees from the Israeli ethnic cleansing of 1948, by the way. And this enables us to say "Look how great Israel is, they helped Haiti." Pretty thin. Folks, we've got to be more honest and bold.
“When I was 7, Israel began occupying territory and it hasn’t done anything I feel I can support since then.” How sad. She can't even support Israel's aid to Haiti after their earthquake? While I don't support the attitude that Israel can do no wrong, neither can I countenance the idea that Israel can do no right. And although the fight on one of the 6 ships turned out badly, Israel has a right to defend itself against those who have sworn to wipe it off the map. The aid is going into Gaza regardless. Israel has the right and the obligation to inspect cargo for weapons before it is allowed in.
This comment reveals something about how thin the defense of Israeli militarism has become. Israel does one thing right, far far away from its destruction of the indigenous people close at hand, and it is seized on as the argument against - what? Pinochet and apartheid South Africa probably sent aid somewhere too. Come on folks, let's address what is said, not pick out a tiny aspect of the wording to do battle with. Jews have an obligation to fight for truth, even when it hurts. Israel is marauding, Palestinians are occupied, human rights workers are murdered. Fess up, sis.

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