Israel’s Gaza war remembered

January 12, 2011

NEW YORK--More than 300 protesters marked the second anniversary of Israel's massacre of Palestinians in Gaza by protesting in Herald Square on January 9.

During Israel's invasion, called Operation Cast Lead, some 1,400 Palestinians were killed. Israel continues to block supplies like medical instruments, construction tools, steel and cement from entering Gaza, making it impossible for Palestinians to rebuild the homes, schools, hospitals and factories destroyed in the assault.

The protest, called by Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and cosponsored by more 20 other groups, comes at a very important juncture in the Palestinian solidarity movement. On university campuses across the city, Students for Justice in Palestine chapters have initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns to protest Israel's ongoing assault against the Palestinians--and these campaigns are growing in strength.

The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network is sponsoring a national "Never Again for Anyone" tour with Auschwitz survivor Dr. Hajo Meyer, which will come to New York on January 27.

The United National Antiwar Committee has called for a bi-coastal national antiwar demonstration on April 9, the first such antiwar demonstration in years, and one of the first times justice for Palestinians has been one of the core demands.

This activism comes not a moment too soon. Documents released by WikiLeaks show that Israel is planning a new total war on Gaza and Lebanon. A rising wave of Islamophobia in the U.S. whipped up around the planned building of a so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" continues. And Gaza still suffers under a brutal and dehumanizing blockade.

"If it wasn't for the billions of dollars in aid and investments provided by the U.S. each year, Israel could not continue its reign of terror," pointed out protester Matt Swagler of Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine. "Activists living in the U.S., therefore, have one of the most important roles to play in challenging Israeli apartheid."

After a lively speak-out at Herald Square, protesters marched to the Israeli consulate, chanting "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!" There, they were met by a mere handful of pro-Israel counterprotesters with such signs as "Israel: We Stand with You" and "Stop Hamas from Blockading Peace."

One has to wonder if the person with the "blockading" sign understood the cruel irony of it--for it is Israel's blockade that is right now the biggest roadblock for peace.

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