By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,162)
He spent two weeks in the West Bank earlier this year. From Portland, he wanted to learn about the occupation of the West Bank and see it first-hand. “It was terrible. It was like the Jim Crow of the south in the 1950s,” he said. “There are roads and streets not open to Palestinians, although this is not widely known in the U.S. It’s extreme segregation. When Israel sees a Palestinian rocket land on their soil, they should be asking why?” He and his mother participated in a huge anti-Israel rally that took place in two waves at Monument Square yesterday afternoon. “The Palestinians have been subjected to apartheid conditions and oppression for decades and they have every reason to resist, in my opinion,” He said.
Bob Schaible, chairman, of Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights, told the crowd of over 100 protestors at Monument Square: “There will never be peace as long as Israel is killing children. Where is the outrage?” (Schaible was referring to the four boys recently targeted by an Israeli gunboat and killed with Israeli deadly accurate missiles. The four, between the ages of 9 and 11, were on a Gaza beach playing soccer when the killing occurred.) “There is no way Israel thought they were shooting at Hamas. Those four children on the Gaza Beach were intentional targets. We are not anti-Semitic, but against politicizing Zionism.”
“How can a rally like this help?” Schaible asked the animated crowd. “First, we want our Palestinian friends to know we support them. Second, what about Palestinian rights to defend themselves? It’s okay to speak out now,” he said. Schaible’s remarks were interrupted by several confrontations from pro-Israel supporters contesting the facts as presented by Schaible. “They scream with rhetoric, but don’t talk with facts,” said Jacqui Deveneau, one of the protesters and an organizer of the event.
A second wave of protesters arrived at Monument Square just after 2:00 pm. Most of them were Muslim’s leaving their Friday afternoon prayers. Schaible urged them to call their Maine representatives, although contacting US Senator Susan Collins, (R) might be useless. They were chanting “Free Palestine” – over and over again at the behest of a leader. “We understand what oppression is like. That’s why we are here. We are in sympathy with our Muslin brothers,” said one protestor preferring to remain anonymous. Rahmi Habibzai a Freedom Fighter from Afghanistan, said in part: We will be here as long as people are being killed.” Habibzai was a Freedom Fighter who fought against Russia. “I defended my country against occupation by Russia. I was in the battle for 4 years. I want peace. Those war images are still in my mind. I want peace.”
Protesters were urged to lobby against using tax dollars to hire Caterpillar bulldozers for Israel to violate Palestinian human rights “Israel misuses Caterpillar equipment to kill Palestinian civilians, demolish civilian homes, destroy orchards and agricultural land, build illegal Jewish-only settlements and construct its apartheid wall,” according to literature provided by the protesters.
Additional rallies in support of the Palestinians are planned in Monument Square in the near future, although final arrangements have not been made. Please email email@example.com for more information.