Posted 3:53 p.m. April 22
by Shaphan Marwah
U-WIRE (DC BUREAU)
(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – No violence was reported last weekend as college students from universities across the country joined a crowd of 75,000 protestors in Washington, D.C., to protest the Bush administration’s support of Israel and to show solidarity with Palestinians.
The protestors gathered at 10 a.m. on the Ellipse in front of the White House, carrying a variety of flags and banners and chanting slogans calling for a “free Palestine.”
The demonstrators were especially fueled by recent Israeli military actions in the West Bank and Gaza, and called for an end to U.S. aid to the Israel government.
“I want to make my voice heard,” said Amy Greene, a senior from American University, “We need to stop the aid (to Israel).”
Police estimated that 30,000 pro-Palestinian supports gathered on the Ellipse Saturday morning and were later joined by as many 20,000 to 45,000 additional demonstrators who marched from the World Bank headquarters in Northwest D.C.
Thousands of demonstrators in D.C. to protest the World Bank/IMF meetings and call for U.S. presence in Colombia and Afghanistan joined the Palestinians supporters in their three-hour long trek across the city. A few demonstrators scaling lampposts and traffic lights in order to direct the flow of protestors, and the relatively small crowd remained peaceful.
As a matter of caution, 400 police officers lined the streets and some even wore riot gear. Some of the protestors paraded in the heat and humidity for four or five hours to express their concern for relatives who live in the territories occupied by the Israeli Defense Force.
“I have an aunt in Ramallah,” said Reem Shamoon, a sophomore from Northern Virginia Community College. “She’s under curfew and there’s no medicine for her — she has diabetes.”
“They (Palestinians) go through 9/11 every day,” said Tarik Faoah, a sophomore from Kingsborough University. “Why didn’t the Israeli government let the Red Cross in to the refugee camps?”
Hundreds of protestors were dressed in traditional Muslim garb. Many carried the Palestinian flag or a picture of Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat. Images of blood-covered infants and destroyed homes in the West Bank were attached by safety pins to the shirts of many young children, and many supporters wore shirts listing the name of a Palestinian person killed in the fighting accompanied by the phrase, “Not just a statistic.”
There was also widespread criticism of U.S. aid to Israel in the form of weapons and funding. The protestors often included President George W. Bush in the chants, saying, “Bush-Sharon what do you say, how many children did you kill today,” “Bush-Sharon, you will see, Palestine will be free” and “Arms from the United States are weapons of Israeli hate.”
Students activists represented a wide range of races and religions, and were joined by a small number of Jewish rabbis opposed to the current military action by the Israeli’s in the West Bank.