Protesters raise their voice over Netanyahu’s White House visit

July 6, 2010
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Protesters line up on Wilshire Boulevard in front of the Federal Building to voice their disagreement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival at the White House. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival at the White House today was protested by several organizations sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians. Protesters assembled in front of the Federal Building on Wilshire Boulevard, an event that was coordinated with several others across the country.

Netanyahu met with Obama to smooth out U.S.-Israeli relations that had gone sour since Israel raided a humanitarian-aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, on May 31 headed for Gaza. The event resulted in the death of nine Turkish passengers and led to widespread international condemnation.

Two months prior to the attack, on March 9, Israel angered the Obama administration by announcing its plans, during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, to build 1,600 more settlements in the West Bank.

“We wanted to show some expression of resistance that we have not forgotten the brutal treatment of Palestine,” said ANSWER Coalition organizer Muna Coobtee. The ANSWER Coalition hosted today’s protest.

Nidal Barakat holds the Turkish flag in honor of the 11 activists who died from an Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, an aid-ship headed for Gaza. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

Since Isreal’s attack on the Mavi Marmara, Swedish dockworkers held a week-long boycott of all goods headed to or coming from Israel, as well as a one-day refusal of Oakland longshoremen to cross a picket line held by peace activists preventing an Israeli ship from docking.

Coobtee says that since the Mavi Marmara incident, a growing awareness of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is growing.

“It is quite amazing where here, in the U.S., where there is so much propaganda and support for Israel, that people got over there support,” she said. “It is a good sign.”

Mazen Almoukdad, an organizer for Al-Awda, a Palestinian-rights organization, has also noticed greater support for his cause since Israel’s well-publicized shortcomings. He said the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) against Israel is growing.

Omar Almoukdad chants into a bullhorn in support of Palestinians. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

“We have more support for that,” he said. “Things are evolving faster than what we had expected – even though Israel has a monopoly on the media.”

Almoukdad said the policies of the U.S. toward Israel don’t serve the American public, but only benefit the Zionists, whom he calls racists.

“They assume the oppressed people will forget about it and surrender their rights, but that is not going to happen,” he said.

The Los Angeles Israeli consulate issued a statement today saying that Israel has stopped its practice of publishing a comprehensive list of items permitted into Gaza. Instead, the government published a limited list of forbidden items. The consulate claims this new policy will “greatly improve the lives of the residents of the Strip” by allowing an average of 150 trucks into Gaza – nearly double the previous average.

According to the consulate, “the significance of this policy is that all but a limited number of goods deemed dangerous are now permitted” to enter Gaza.

However, on May 31, the consulate issued another statement saying there was “no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” that thousands of tons of food, goods and equipment were getting to the occupied people.

Such statements are a hard sell for many of the protesters today. They have had first hand experience in the matter.

Counter-demonstrator Richard Levik voices his support for Israel across the street on Veterans Avenue. Levik feels the Israeli/Palestinian issue is something non-Muslims and non-Arabs should not be involved in. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

“My parents were both raised in Palestine,” said Mohammed Barakat. “I’ve been there a dozen times and I’ve seen what goes on there.”

Barakat described how the movement of individual Palestinians are restricted. They face checkpoints and are issued special license plates that label them as Palestinians. He said he had more rights in Palestine as an American citizen than a Palestinian.

Barakat said it would be like living in California but not being allowed to travel to Nevada, while any foreigner could travel the U.S. freely.

“It would be weird for someone to come here from another country and they had more rights than you,” he said. “The Palestinians can’t leave this little area because they are barricaded by checkpoints. The only thing that gets me through is my American passport.”

Barakat came from Ventura County to attend today’s protest. He said his father, who also attended, has been a Palestinian-rights activist since he was born and that his father taught him to stand up against injustices.

“I feel it’s my obligation,” he said.

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3 Responses to Protesters raise their voice over Netanyahu’s White House visit

  1. Richard Levik on July 7, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Your caption under my picture completely inverts and misconstrues what I said and what I believe. The second sentence should be corrected to say: “Levik feels the Palestinian issue is something non-Muslims and non-Arabs should not be involved in.”

    I’m not too surprised to see that a white person would take my words and completely invert them. This is what the European pagans/Christians have done with the words of Jesus and God for centuries. It then follows that this is done very innocently in other areas. I’m certain this was just an innocent error (as if). I look forward to seeing a correction.

    In any case let it be known that what you, Dan, say I feel is not what I feel. In fact the word “not” is what is missing and the word Israeli should be removed as well, because obviously non-Muslims and non-Arabs have a say in Israeli issues.

  2. Dan Bluemel on July 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I’m very sorry about omitting the word “not.” That has been corrected.

  3. Richard Levik on July 7, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Sorry I was so gruff. Thank you for the (partial) correction. It is the Palestinian issue which I remain suspect of white non-Muslims acting like this is a concern of theirs. I believe it is the hatred/dislike for Jews and Judaism which many Christians are fed from birth that I suspect is behind their pretend concern for this issue.

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