The Israel/Gaza Face-Off In Los Angeles

IMG_2818

Photo by Mike Chickey

Monday night, in remembrance of the one-year anniversary of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead that killed 1,400 Gazans, and in solidarity with the 1,400 international peace pilgrims converging in Egypt from 42 countries for the planned Gaza Freedom March, Los Angelenos gathered in front of the Israeli Consulate for a solemn candlelight vigil.

In concert with Los Angeles’ diverse population, attendees crossed boundaries of race, age and denomination. They shared a common purpose: to end Israel’s blockade and occupation of Gaza that deprives 1.5 million people of their basic human rights. The incomprehensible manifestations of Israel’s occupation are outlined here by Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK, the coordinating organization for the Gaza Freedom March.

Disavowing the fact that most of the world, except Israel and the United States, believes Israel committed war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s supporters deny any culpability on Israel’s part – a claim in direct conflict with the findings of The Goldstone Report, commissioned by the United Nations to investigate Israel’s 2008 incursion into Gaza.

web

Photo by Mike Chickey

As stated in The Report:

“We came to the conclusion, on the basis of the facts we found, that there was strong evidence to establish that numerous serious violations of international law, both humanitarian law and human rights law, were committed by Israel during the military operations in Gaza,” the head of the mission, Justice Richard Goldstone, told a press briefing today.

The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defense Force (IDF).”

Despite ample proof of Israel’s guilt, some 50 die-hard supporters showed up to challenge Israel’s dissenters on Monday. They stood on the opposite side of Wilshire Boulevard holding signs and banners. While the south-side Gaza sympathizers stood in quiet vigil, the north-side Israel supporters invited honks from passing motorists:

web-1

Photo by Mike Chickey

Like any metropolitan city, Los Angeles is host to a variety of people. Monday night there were Jews, Christians, Muslims and atheists on the pro-Palestinian side. The opposite side were mostly Jews. Jews faced off against Jews to support or oppose Israel’s policies. L.A. Jews For Peace was well represented on the free-Gaza side:

Those who conflate the United States with Israel supported the blockade:

DSCN2800

Photo by Mike Chickey

I’ve attended many opposing sides events in Los Angeles between those who support Palestinian-occupation and those who support Palestinian-liberation. The occupation supporters are always wrapped in the American flag, championing U.S. government bias toward Israel. They have a swagger that the occupation protesters don’t. They wear the American flag as a symbol of the government’s allegiance to their cause – the imprisonment and deprivation of 1.5 million people.

linda_milazzo.jpgAs I write this in the wee hours on Wednesday morning at 4am PT, 7,500 miles away buses containing 100 peacemakers are en route from Cairo to Gaza to take part in the Freedom March. Egypt, which had closed its border with Gaza to the 1,400 pilgrims who had come to make the March, made a last minute strategic decision to splinter off the peacemakers and allow just 100 to enter Gaza, leaving 1,300 humanitarians behind. In typical government impropriety, those who sought justice were dealt with unjustly, and those who sought to liberate were suppressed.

Linda Milazzo

Published by the LA Progressive on December 31, 2009
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Linda Milazzo

Linda Milazzo is a Los Angeles based participatory journalist and educator. Since 1974, she has divided her time between the entertainment industry, government organizations, community development projects and educational programs.

Linda began her writing career in advertising and promotions. From 1976 to 1989, she operated an independent public relations service providing specialty writing for individual and corporate clients. A socio-political activist since the Vietnam war, Linda has focused on political writing since 2002. Her essays, letters and commentaries have appeared in domestic and international journals, newspapers and magazines. She's an educator and creator of a writers' program she's taught privately and in public schools.

Linda has facilitated an advocacy writing workshop and has developed an advocacy writing program for implementation in public and private educational institutions and in community based organizations. She's a regular contributor to numerous high profile and highly respected news and opinion websites.