The Guardian April 24, 2002


Massive solidarity demonstrations
Washington, San Francisco, London

An estimated 75,000 to 100,000 strong demonstration took place in 
Washington last Saturday in solidarity with the Palestinian cause and in 
anti-globalisation protests. Another 35,000 demonstrated in San 
Francisco.

In a surprisingly objective report of the Washington march, the Washington 
Post reported Randa Jamal, a graduate student at New York's Columbia 
University as saying: "The message here is we must support the Palestinian 
people against a military occupation and an apartheid state". She said: 
"What we are going through is crimes against humanity".

Demonstrators held signs that denounced Ariel Sharon and George Bush. 
Reflecting the twin issues of Palestine and globalisation, placards said: 
"Drop debt, not bombs", "No blank cheque for endless war" and "We are all 
Palestinians". Signs called for freedom for Palestinians and the end of US 
sponsorship of Israel.

Mark Rickling from the Mobilisation for Global Justice which helped to 
organise the demonstration said in response to the overwhelming support for 
the Palestinian cause: "It seems more important to the safety of the world. 
But we're all united on the issues of oppression. I'm just floored by the 
amount of people here today."

"We are all here because we want to do something to send a message", said 
Amal David a Palestinian American who came by bus from Detroit to take 
part.

He spoke of the destruction that US-financed Israeli weapons and tanks have 
done to Palestinians, saying: "My beloved country is financing such death 
and destruction. I am so ashamed."

US Jews who oppose the occupation also took part in the demonstration.

Rabbi Yisroel Weiss said that "The Palestinians in the crowd look at us 
mistrustfully at first, but then they speak a few words with us and they 
show us respect and friendship". He told the Washington Post that he had 
come to Washington with several dozen Orthodox rabbis to join the march.

A report by Indymedia quoted Larry Holmes from the International Action 
Centre saying, "Yesterday the US threatened to veto a UN Security Council 
resolution calling for an investigation into the Jenin massacre. The US 
finally forced the removal of the world 'investigation' from the 
resolution. This is one more example of how Sharon's war against the 
Palestinian people is backed and protected by George Bush".

"The US is afraid the truth will come out", said Carol Messineo a 
spokesperson of the Partnership for Civil Justice. "And they're afraid of 
the kind of milutinational solidarity shown for the Palestinian people by 
the people of the United States today in massive numbers."

Of the San Francisco march Richard Becker of the Act Now to Stop War and 
End Racism Coalition (ANSWER) said: "Today's marches and rallies are the 
largest ever in this country in support of the Palestinian people."

In London

On the previous Saturday in London an estimated 50,000 people marched from 
Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square in a huge protest against the killing of 
Palestinians by the Israeli Government in the West Bank. It took more than 
two hours to arrive at Trafalgar Square.

Protestors carried thousands of Palestinian flags and placards condemning 
the Israeli occupation as "the new apartheid" and called Ariel Sharon "the 
new Hitler".

Contrasting with the deathly silence of Labor Party members in Australia, a 
number of British Labour MPs voiced their strong condemnation of the 
Israeli war.

Message to Tony Blair

Jeremy Corbyn said: "The message to Tony Blair is now clear  stop talking 
on behalf of George Bush and instead, speak on behalf of peace and justice 
in the Middle East."

Former Labour MP Tony Benn said that the people were demonstrating against 
what President Bush called "a crusade" against the Muslim world. "The only 
reason that Bush wants peace in Palestine is so that he can start a war 
with Iraq", he said.

Another Labour MP, George Galloway told the London rally: "The sight of the 
British Government belly-dancing to George Bush is turning our nation's 
stomach".

These demonstrations are part of the continuing world-wide actions in 
support of the struggle of the Palestinian people and in protest against 
the barbarous acts committed by the Israeli army of occupation.

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