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TRNN’s Jaisal Noor speaks to Baltimore residents taking part in both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine rallies along with noted scholar Norman Finkelstein, who was just arrested with two dozen others for carrying out civil disobedience at the Israeli mission to the UN

Story Transcript

JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Today is the 22nd day of Israel’s Protective Edge offensive. More than 1,300 Palestinians and 50 Israelis have been killed. Here in Baltimore today there was dueling rallies, one pro-Israel, one pro-Palestine rally. We spoke to people on both sides.

RYAN PARKER, PRO-ISRAEL DEMONSTRATOR: I’m here in solidarity with the Jewish people of Baltimore in solidarity with Israel to support Israel against the terrorist attacks by Hamas, and also to make sure people understand Israel does want peace but it has to defend itself. The innocent people are the people who are not Hamas. Hamas has brought this on the people of Gaza by starting the war by lobbing the rockets. If they would stop lobbing the rockets and if they wanted peace, I’m sure Israel would be very happy to make peace with the people of Gaza.

CROWD: Hey, hey! Ho, ho! The occupation’s got to go!

HAKIM ABU KHDEIR, PRO-PALESTINE DEMONSTRATOR: My name’s Hakim Abu Khdeir, the cousin of the tortured, murdered, and burned-alive Muhammed Abu Khdeir, cousin of Tariq Abu Khdeir, who was brutally and savagely beaten by Israeli police.

My thoughts on the whole situation? There’s a lot of things running through my mind right now. And when people say they have the right to defend themselves, I ask: from what? Innocent children? Women and children hiding in their homes waiting to die from a bomb? It’s ridiculous. We’ve come to an age in society where anything can happen, and those governing a nation sit back and watch injustice, inhumanity.

We’re protesting for humanity, for the people who have no voice in Palestine, in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, and every other place on the world who has injustice, war crimes, just inhumanity in general. We have come to realize that if we don’t speak for something, then we are no better than those committing the crimes against us.

NOOR: We were just at the pro-Israel rally, and a lot of what we heard is that the people aren’t–they’re not anti-Palestinian; They’re anti-Hamas. They’re only going after Hamas. They do not target civilians. What’s your response to that?

ABU KHDEIR: Hamas is not a terrorist group. Hamas is democratically elected in 2006 by the people in Gaza. They are not a terrorist organization if they are democratically elected.


PRO-ISRAEL DEMONSTRATOR: I support Israel with military equipment, with financial assistance, because what we fight is–.

NOOR: [incompr.] getting enough right now [incompr.]

PRO-ISRAEL DEMONSTRATOR: Not enough. And I think what Israel should–what Israel is doing now is somewhat supporting the American values by fighting terrorism. And just because of that, America should do more for Israel, because that will be a statement of fighting against terrorism.


HEBER BROWN, PASTOR, PLEASANT HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH: The United States is doing more than enough to support the occupation of the Palestinian people, financially and otherwise. President Obama requested more than $3 billion in his budget, 2014 budget, to support the Israeli military. And that’s just his budget. There’s other monies as well that go to the Israeli military and financing the occupation. I think more than enough is being done for occupation. We need more done for peace and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis. Occupation is not the avenue toward a just peace for everybody there.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, PROFESSOR, AND AUTHOR: Yesterday around noon I received an email from a friend of mine, Sara Roy at Harvard, and she described the killing, the shattering of the body of another child, either who was in the playground or in Shifa Hospital. I can’t remember which. And Sarah is a very sophisticated, refined, smart person. And she ended the email by saying, I want to vomit. And that just resonated with me. No fancy words, no rhetorical curlicues. I want to vomit.

And when I read that, I thought, it’s time to do something more than just sitting in front of the computer updating my website. I had to do something more. And so I said, all right, I’m going to go get arrested. And I just posted something on my website. I don’t believe in individual acts of martyrdom. I like actions. I said, if we can get 100 people, then let’s do it. We got 100 people and we did it.


PRO-ISRAEL DEMONSTRATOR: People complain. They say, oh, this is not a balanced situation; none of the Israelis are getting killed. These very few Israelis, at least civilians, are being killed because the Israelis protect their civilians. Hamas launches their rockets from houses and apartment buildings.

NOOR: They use human shields.

PRO-ISRAEL DEMONSTRATOR: They use human shields.


NOOR: We talked to the pro-Israel side today, they said Israel is the victims, Hamas is using Palestinian children as human shields. What’s your response to that?

FINKELSTEIN: Well, it’s not my response. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Middle East editor of BBC, they all said Hamas is not using human shields, case closed. The U.S. does everything Israel wants it to do. I can’t imagine. What do they want? They want Barack Obama to volunteer to fight?

NOOR: Do Americans have a responsibility for what’s happening in Palestine right now?

FINKELSTEIN: The simple fact is President Barack Obama is the enabler of the massacre. Every day that he says Israel has the right to defend itself, he is the one that’s making the massacre possible. That’s the bottom line. If even one day he said something about Israel’s killing of the civilians, its deliberate, targeted killing of civilians, it would stop.

NOOR: From The Real News, this is Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Jaisal is currently the Democracy Initiative Manager at the Solutions Journalism Network and is a former TRNN host, producer, and reporter. He mainly grew up in the Baltimore area and studied modern history at the University of Maryland, College Park. Before joining TRNN, he contributed print, radio, and TV reports to Free Speech Radio News, Democracy Now! and The Indypendent. Jaisal's mother has taught in the Baltimore City Public School system for the past 25 years. Follow him on Twitter @jaisalnoor.