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News :: DNC : DNC : International : Organizing
Protestors to DNC Delegates: Free Palestine!
27 Jul 2004
On Monday evening, delegates arriving at the Democratic National Convention were greeted by the sight of two to three hundred people rallying in the controversial fenced-in demonstration zone. The rally, “We All Pay for the Occupation of Palestine,” was sponsored by United for Justice with Peace (UJP) and the Boston Committee for Palestinian Rights. “Welcome to the cage” said the opening speaker. “Our Palestinian brothers and sisters live in a cage.” To cheers and applause, the speakers’ messages were clear: end the occupation of Palestinian land and tear down the illegal 25-mile long wall that the Israelis are erecting to contain the Palestinians.
Protestors to DNC Delegates: Free Palestine!

By Holly Hand



On Monday evening, delegates arriving at the Democratic National Convention were greeted by the sight of two to three hundred people rallying in the controversial fenced-in demonstration zone. The rally, “We All Pay for the Occupation of Palestine,” was sponsored by United for Justice with Peace (UJP) and the Boston Committee for Palestinian Rights. A number of police stood outside the demonstration zone watching the protestors as the delegates walked by. Occasionally a helicopter flew overhead.

“Look at us!” a female protester shouted at the delegates through the double fence topped with razor wire. “This is what democracy looks like!”

“Welcome to the cage” said the opening speaker. “Our Palestinian brothers and sisters live in a cage.”

To cheers and applause, the speakers’ messages were clear: end the occupation of Palestinian land and tear down the illegal 25-mile long wall that the Israelis are erecting to contain the Palestinians.

The many speakers included Jews, Arabs and other concerned citizens. The director of American Arab relations and a representative from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee were there. One speaker told the crowd that their tax dollars are being sent to Israel to contain a Palestinian population in Palestinian lands, and that the US sends a total of $4 billion a year to Israel. During the evening speakers shouted to the passing delegates that they have the obligation to stand up for the principles of peace and justice. “I don’t want to own Israel,” said a young Jewish woman who has lived in Israel. “I want to preserve it.”“

Speakers deplored the enormity of the occupation on Palestinian life and culture. Palestinians are force to change their names and drop their language. Bulldozers crush some of their houses while Israeli soldiers blow up others. Palestinians and their olive trees are becoming ancient history. The Palestinians who are killed by Israelis are erased from memory; their names not even allowed into the newspapers.

Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner was one of the speakers. Turner began by saying that the protest prison reminded him of being inside the walls of Old Colony (the public housing project).

Regarding the occupation, Turner said he was in Israel in 1989. “What’s happening in the Middle East is deplorable,” he said. “Our country has supported a continuing situation of atrocities against the Palestinian people. Palestinians are being oppressed by a people who’ve fled oppression and now are oppressing others…The
Israeli economy isn’t real; it’s inflated because of US money.
Where there is no justice there can be no peace. When are we going to get leadership that will understand that if there is going to be peace their needs to be justice?

“ We’re funding injustice,” Turner continued. “We are responsible for the brutality of the Palestinian people. If not for our actions the Israelites couldn’t do it. The blood is on our hands…. Terrorism in the Middle East is a byproduct of our foreign policy…Are the quote unquote terrorists any different from any people who look up one day and see another people controlling their land and say enough is enough? Patrick Henry said ‘give me liberty or give me death’ and we see him as a hero. Yet other people in the Middle East who say they have a right… now I don’t condone terrorists, I’m anti-violent. But I understand the rage of people when another country is controlling you because of their own interests. We’ve created that rage. We're spending billions to protect ourselves from the terrorists we have created.”

Another speaker pointed out that two-thirds of America’s foreign aid goes to Israel and Egypt… “You can’t do evil in the world and not pay the price,” declared the speaker. “America is in a deep moral crisis.”

Midway through the rally, protestors staged a die-in. Men and women covered with Israeli and Palestinian flags lay on the concrete awhile a man wrapped in an American flag stood over them. Meanwhile a letter was read from an Israeli mother whose 13-year-old daughter was killed by suicide bomber. The mother expressed solidarity with all the mothers, Israeli and Palestinian, whose children have been killed, “All blood is equal,” she wrote and pleaded for children’s lives and an end to the hostilities.

One speaker noted that in Los Angeles there was a two-day fast in solidarity with the Palestinians demanding that Israel tear down the wall. The crowd was urged to join a coming fast. “Social justice is not a hobby; it’s a way of life,” the speaker reminded the crowd.

As delegates continued to walk by on their way to the convention, the crowd chanted Free Palestine! While almost all the delegates looked at the protestors, only a few stopped to talk with them. One female protestor carrying a sign condemning the war in Iraq yelled at the delegates, “Shame on you, wining and dining yourselves while people are starving!” At this a young female delegate walked over to the woman and the two briefly exchanged sharp words through the double fence. Before walking away the delegate snapped, “The world is run by people who show up!”

During the evening I saw at least one security guard in the protest pen but no uniformed police officers although several of the men looked like they might be were working undercover. There were several legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild wearing their trademark green T-shirts and hats.

Another speaker railed against the slow genocide of the Palestinians paid for by the US and said that only three groups supported this: “A small cabal of neo-conservatives with no military experience. Christian religious extremists who believe that Jesus Christ won’t return unless Israel is given to the Jews. As if Jesus Christ would have preached genocide! And right-wing Jews who have forgotten the lessons of the Holocaust and the pogroms of Easter Europe and Russia.”

Several of the speakers reminded the protestors that John Kerry is not the answer to the problem because Kerry supports the wall. One said, “Tell the Democratic Party we need more than a change of face in the White House, we need a change of policy!”

The rally was scheduled to last from 5 to 7 p.m. By 7 the speeches were continuing but the crowd had dwindled and the delegates were now in the convention center. I left the protest zone shortly after 7:30. The police still stood outside the fence and there was the still the occasionally helicopter overhead. I walked back to the Haymarket T stop, passing the open-air restaurants where diners were leisurely eating, drinking and watching other police stand around. It was a slightly surreal ending to my first experience of being with protestors in a cage-like setting. It had been just a tiny taste of prison but still I was grateful to leave it behind.

This work is in the public domain