The War Over the War: Israel, Gaza an...

The War Over the War: Israel, Gaza and American Protest

Posted in the Chicago Forum

Nicholas Powers

Matawan, NJ

#1 Aug 8, 2014
The War Over the War: Israel, Gaza and American Protest
Friday, 08 August 2014 10:54
By Nicholas Powers, Truthout

"Stop shooting rockets," they yelled over the heads of the police. Waving Israeli flags, nearly a hundred members of Stand With Us stood behind stone-faced riot cops as a few thousand antiwar protesters filled the plaza to condemn Israel's bombing of Gaza. Palestinian flags bobbed as attendees turned their backs on the Zionists and faced the stage. At the microphone, author Max Blumenthal bellowed, "The Zionist Era is over! Israel says it wants peace, and they do." He paused, "They want piece after piece of Palestinian land," he yelled, "That's the kind of peace they want." Cheering rose from the crowd.

The San Francisco rally joined others in London, Tel Aviv, Paris, Islamabad, Seoul, Frankfurt and more cities in a global outcry against Israel's siege of Gaza. As Israeli missile after missile struck homes, photos of victims wrapped in gauze or parents cradling dead children filled social media. Driven by the deep human impulse to sympathize with suffering, thousands of people poured into city streets to demand an end to the rain of bombs.

At the rallies, signs were held like mirrors reflecting the true nature of the siege, an act of gruesome lopsided violence. Israel is a nation of eight million with a large military hammering Gaza, a small strip of land packed with one and half million cramped Palestinians living in dire poverty, whose political party, Hamas fires errant rockets that terrorize Israelis more than hurt them. In the 29 days of Israel's Operation Protective Edge, the New York Times reports that Hamas fired 2,909 rockets into Israel and there were 67 Israeli deaths: all but three were soldiers. In contrast, Israeli Defense forces hit 3,834 targets and killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians: most were civilians and at least 132 were children.

As the latest cease-fire holds, a bomb-battered people pick through rubble and find rage, pain and more rage. Worldwide criticism of Israel, most of which is fueled by sympathy for Palestinians, some by anti-Semitism, has like acid begun to erode Israel's base of support in the United States. Israel has won in Gaza, but it lost the war over the war.

Stand With Us

Circling the July 26 San Francisco rally was a large white tape with the names of Palestinians killed by Israeli missiles, how old they were and where they lived. I lifted it and walked to the Stand With Us group. What strikes the eye is the whiteness of their protest. White shirts, white skin, the white of the Israeli flag blazed in the sun.

"SHAME ON YOU! SHAME ON YOU," they chanted angrily. One cop muttered to another, "The only shame is we have to fucking be here." Nearby, an Asian woman grimly said, "The cease-fire is over." I asked what happened. She showed me a smart-phone app called Red Alert that let her know when Hamas fired a missile.

I asked for an event organizer and was pointed to a curly haired man, sweaty from working in the sun. His name was Michael Harris, and I asked him about the rally. He said, "Ninety-nine percent of American Jews support Israel's right to defend itself. Only fringe elements are on the other side," and motioned to the antiwar rally, "Hamas is the enemy of peace for both Israel and Palestine. They don't accept Israel in any form. Now Israelis may be divided on a Palestinian state, but we are united in having a state in our historic homeland."

I asked about the contradiction between Israel as a state for Jews and Israel as a multi-ethnic democracy. "Israel is already a multi-ethnic state"' he said firmly, "Twenty percent are Arabs, and Arabs have been in every parliament; they have equal voting rights, but the Jewish people have as much of a right to a state as anyone else." Harris squinted in the heat,

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