In response to the recent military offensive by Israel against the Palestinian people in Gaza, an ad-hoc solidarity demonstration took place at the State Capitol building on December, 30th, 2008. Tired of waiting for a rally to be organized, RAIM-Denver and allies in the pro-Palestine movement initiated this action. A vigil was also organized by local peace groups for later that evening.
Around 60-70 people showed up at the beginning of the 3pm rally. Demonstrators brought Palestinian flags, handmade signs, some pre-made signs from national groups and a feeling of solidarity with the people of Gaza. Between the “demonstration” and “vigil”, around 200 people showed up.
Another rally was held at the same location on January 3rd, 2009. RAIM members and supporters went to this one as well. About 50 people showed up. Despite freezing weather they were determined to show their opposition to Israel’s genocidal attacks.
(January 3rd Demonstration for Gaza, Denver)
The composition of both crowds were to be expected. Over half were from the Muslim community with the remainder coming from the Denver-area activist scene and those into ‘leftist’ politics. Amongst the latter group, RAIM-Denver saw many familiar faces, including members of Recreate ‘68 and the Colorado Communities for Peace and
Rather than the scheduled speakers typical of most demonstrations, the small crowd talked to each other: a welcome change in our opinion. For the most part, discussion centered around the situation in Gaza and ways to effectively end the oppression laid down by the Israeli settler-state.
RAIM-Denver did its thing, though this time without the theatrics. As usual we got into debates with fellow protesters. There were some heated arguments with more liberal participants who were angered by other demonstrators words and signs stating strong points against Israel and more solid support for Palestinian resistance.
RAIM-Denver also passed out our provocative Stand with Gaza statement to the crowd at both rallies. Already knowing most of the Denver activist ‘left,’ we made a special effort to distribute it to those in the Muslim community. It was met with cool agreement. Many expressed thanks simply for having such a statement.
Around the country similar demonstrations were held. Like those in Denver, most protesters were from Muslim communities. Some, in cities with large Muslim populations such as San Francisco and New York, reportedly drew out thousands. Because of the personal nature of these attacks, Muslims were among the more militant and radical of the demonstrators.
In the West Bank, security forces controlled by the Fatah comprador regime have cracked down on pro-Hamas demonstrations. There is word of internal dissent in Fatah over the Palestinian Authority’s non-support for Gaza during this time of crisis(1). Israel has also backed up its military forces in the West Bank and around the northern border of Lebanon, fearing attacks. The people of Lebanon, under the leadership of Hizbollah, were successful in driving out Israel- a feat no Arab state has done.
Back on December 30th, former congresswoman and third-party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney was aboard a boat which was rammed by Israeli coastal forces. The boat, called Destiny, was attempting to deliver aid to Gaza and amongst the passengers were surgeons and journalists. Ramming the vessel three times and causing
it to take on water, the Israeli forces threatened to open fire if they continued towards Gaza. Luckily the humanitarian mission made it safely to port in Lebanon.
Zionists have commented that the McKinney’s relief effort was an act of provocation. According the twisted logic of these pigs, McKinney and others intentionally put themselves in danger in order to potentially create a media stunt. Similarly, Israel supporters criticize Hamas for supposedly using human shields. Just as delivering aid is a bad thing, the fact that Hamas is a popular movement, that its leaders live in neighborhoods instead of walled compounds, is seen as some sort of devious anti-human tactic.
Once in Lebanon, McKinney called on Barack Obama to speak out for Gaza. Obama, who prior to the election stated his support for Israel, has refused to comment on Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip. Al-Jazeera showed footage of Obama playing golf in Hawaii while Israel commenced its slaughter in Gaza(2). Obama’s nonchalant attitude towards the people of Gaza should surprise no one. As RAIM has pointed out, Obama ran on a campaign which included calling Hamas a terrorist organization and described the relationship between the U.S. and Israel as “unbreakable.” (3)
To think that Obama would actually support Gaza or that his refusal to do so would somehow “expose” him to the Amerikan people is both wishful thinking. As noted by W.E.B. DuBois in 1915, “…a love of humanity [does not] appeal as a motive to nations whose love of luxury is built on the inhuman exploitation of human beings..”(4) DuBois has been proven right. Despite the unprecedented death in Gaza over the past week, Amerika hasn’t skipped a beat.
Latest reports indicate that the level of violence has intensified with Israel deploying ground troops and tanks into the Gaza territory. This latest event will not be the last act of Israeli aggression. There will also be more protests in this country and around the world. These protests, however, will not stop Israel.
Only the revolutionary struggle of the Palestinians themselves, with the support of their oppressed allies around the world and in the Middle East, will bring to an end Israel and Amerika’s reign of terror and oppression. The most we can do in the First World is build wider public support for those resisting imperialist aggression. While much of the First World ‘left’ feels compelled to ride the fence and rhetorically support neither Israel nor Hamas, we at RAIM-Denver have no qualms about support those actually resisting imperialism and its repression on the ground.
Those in the Third World are forced to fight against a primary enemy. For Palestine, the enemy is becoming increasingly clear. Death to U.S. imperialism and zionism.
(1). Khaled Abu Toameh. “Fatah: Let Us Help You Fight Israel in Gaza.” Jerusalem Post, Jan. 2, 2009. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1230733139092&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
(2).Liz Sly. “Barack Obama’s silence on Gaza bombings is galling to Arabs.” Chicago Tribune, Jan. 4, 2009. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-gaza-obama_slyjan04,0,3493387.story
(3) RAIM-Denver. “Obama Touts Imperialist Credentials, Shocks Arab World.” https://raimd.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/obama-shocks-arabs-touts-imperialist-creditials/
(4) W.E.B. Dubois. “The African Roots of War” The Atlantic Monthly, vol. 115, no. 5 (May 1915): pp. 707-714. http://www.library.umass.edu/spcoll/digital/dubois/WarRoots.pdf