Between 75,000 and 100,000 Arab-Americans, Jews, and people of all backgrounds gathered in the nation’s capital on Saturday to call for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, the war against Afghanistan, US military aid to Colombia, and the policies of the World Bank and IMF. The protests began at the White House, the Washington Monument and the World Bank and IMF and ended up in a major rally outside the Capitol. The crowd turned Pennsylvania Avenue into a sea of kaffiyas—the traditional Palestinian scarf—and red, black, white and green Palestinian flags. Demonstrators carried a 50-foot Palestinian flag stretched above the heads of the crowd like a huge coffin. Many wore stickers that said, “We are all Palestinians.”
Like the Israel rally in Washington last week, which organizers said was the largest pro-Israel gathering ever held in the US, Saturday’s mass gathering was the largest pro-Palestinian rally in U.S. history. The New York Times had front page coverage of last week’s Israel march. This weekend, some editions of the New York Times did not mention this weekend’s protest at all. The New York edition mentioned it on page 13. Much of the TV coverage focused on police preparations for the protests with very few interviews with those who traveled to Washington to speak out against US foreign policy.
We go first to Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who spoke at the large rally outside the Capital on Saturday. She is the first African American woman elected to the US Congress from Georgia.
- Cynthia McKinney, Georgia Congressmember.
- Patrick Reinsborough, National Mobilization for Colombia, speaking to us from the Colombian Mobilization in Washington, DC, near US Capitol, surrounded by police.
- Derrill Bodley, father of Deora Bodley, killed in the crash of United flight 93 in Pennsylvania
Sanabel Al-Fararja is 15 years old. She calls herself the Daughter of Dheisheh refugee camp.” Sanabel is one of seven Palestinian and Israeli children featured in “Promises,” a documentary that was nominated for an Oscar this year, and won awards at the San Francisco International Film Festival last year. Sanabel came to California to attend the Academy Awards over a month ago. Since then she has been unable to return home, because the Israeli military occupation has sealed off the refugee camp outside Bethlehem where she lives. Israeli filmmaker B.Z. Goldberg, who made the film “Promises,” met Sanabel when she was 10 years old, and just beginning to dance with a Palestinian folk dance troupe at the Ibdaa Cultural Center in the Dheisheh refugee camp. Sanabel spoke in Arabic through a translator at Saturday’s mass gathering.
- Fadia Rafeedi, Free Palestine Alliance. University of California, Berkeley valedictorian of 2000. Two years ago she was slated to give the valedictory address at her graduation. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was the invited speaker. The University switched the order of addresses so that Albright could go first and leave before Fadia Rafeedi spoke. Many students were arrested protesting Albright’s speech.
- Rabbi Binyamin Biber, serves Machar, the Washington Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism.
- Philip Berrigan, lifelong peace activist, one of the founders of the Plowshares Movement begun in 1980 when Berrigan and his brother Dan Berrigan, a Jesuit priest entered the GE plant in Pennsylvania and hammered on nuclear warheads. Philip Berrigan has been imprisoned for 11 years.