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News and reports

July 14, 2006 | Pages 14 and 15

OTHER STORIES BELOW:
Stop the Nazis
Midwest Social Forum

Stop Israel's assault on Gaza

SAN FRANCISCO--Outraged at Israel's ruthless siege on Palestinians in Gaza last week, some 400 people gathered to demonstrate at the Israeli consulate here on July 4. The demonstration--called by Al-Awda, the Palestine Right of Return Coalition--was one of the largest of several emergency responses across the country.

"This is a great turn out, which we want to use to build awareness," said Charlie from the General Union of Palestine Students.

About 40 pro-Israel protesters came to counterprotest but had little effect since pro-Palestinian rights activists outnumbered them 10 to 1. Al-Awda has called for another protest for July 13, the day before its annual convention begins at San Francisco State University.

In New York, 150 protesters turned out for a July 6 protest and die-in in a park across from the United Nations. Chants of "From Iraq to Palestine, occupation is a crime!" and "Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel's crimes!" rang out. The next day, activists in Brooklyn collected donations that will go for medical and nutritional supplies to Gaza as part of an international day of action called by Al-Awda.

Throughout the week, Palestinian rights activists organized events to voice their opposition to Israel's terror.

In New Haven, Conn., 15 people picketed the office on June 29 of Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who voted to withhold economic aid to Palestinians after the democratic election of Hamas. In Toledo, Ohio, 15 protesters--including members of the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition and the Nation of Islam--gathered on July 5 at the county courthouse with signs demanding "Justice for Palestine" and "End Israeli terror."

In Chicago, 30 people held a lively picket at the Israeli consulate on July 5. About 35 protested at the Federal Building in Providence. In Burlington, Vt., activists from Burlington Says No to War, the ISO, Pax Christi and Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel picketed the office of Congressman Bernie Sanders, who voted in favor of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act.

Craig Berman, Alden Eagle, Yusef Khalil, Elizabeth Lalasz, Jim Ramey, Alex Read and David Russitano contributed to this report.

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Stop the Nazis
By Brian Huseby

OLYMPIA, Wash.--About 500 antiracists turned out to protest a rally by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) on the steps of the state capitol on July 3.

The rally was billed as a "regional gathering" of the group's members from Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and other Western states. Only 11 racists actually showed up. Even so, they were allowed to rally since they were protected by a chain link fence and 200 state troopers, who kept the protesters 200 feet away from the Nazis.

When the NSM rallied at the same place three months earlier, more than 100 antiracist protesters were able to shout down the racists, who were separated by just a thin line of state cops. The cops were forced to lead the Nazis away after only about 10 minutes.

Protester Adrienne Weller called the state troopers an "honor guard" for the neo-Nazis and pointed out that such protection is not offered to antiwar protesters.

Anticipating that they would not be allowed near the NSM, protesters set up their own sound system and drowned out the Nazi message with chants, speeches and music. Protesters felt that their efforts were a success, as the NSM message was unable to be heard.

"After a year and a half of planning, saying this was going to be a state and regional rally, they only got 10 or 12 people," said Robert Jacobs, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

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Midwest Social Forum
By Sherry Wolf

MILWAUKEE--Nearly 700 activists from across the Midwest registered for this year's Midwest Social Forum, July 6–9. Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin's Havens Center, In These Times and The Progressive, among others, it provided a forum for progressives to hash out political ideas and differences.

Hosted in a city that had 40,000- and 70,000-strong immigrant rights protests in April and May, it was fitting that the weekend's highlights were the opening plenary and 15 sessions on immigrant issues. Useful debates emerged about what attitude to take toward the various "compromise" bills and the Democratic Party candidates who support militarization of the border and guest-worker plans.

Two Arizona border activists, Ray Ybarra and Alexis Mazon, gave excellent presentations on organizing against the anti-immigrant Minutemen and how racist legislation by Democrats in the border states provides insight into why the movement should not accept compromise bills that would nationalize these laws.

The Social Forum overall, however, lacked any perspective on ending the war in Iraq, fighting the siege of Palestine and many of the other challenges activists face today.

Too many discussions on fighting racism degenerated into race baiting the mostly white crowd, rather than exploring how a multiracial movement could take on the attacks on people of color and working-class whites today.

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