TRNN’s Jaisal Noor talks to Baltimore residents about why they are demanding Israel stop its attacks on Gaza that have killed over 800 Palestinians
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Tens of thousands continue to rally across the world to demand Israel halt its ongoing military assault on Gaza. So far over 800 Palestinian–mostly civilian–and 34 Israelis have died.
In the largest protest in the west bank in years, thousands took to the streets to express outrage with the ongoing Gaza attack. At least six Palestinians were killed with dozens more wounded in the worst clashes with Israeli forces since the second intifada.
Recent solidarity protests with Gaza also been held around the world including Capetown, South Africa, London, England, New Delhi, India, Paris, France
Here in Baltimore, hundreds took part in a solidarity rally with Gaza.
Among those taking part was Baltimore area resident Tasneem Abu Khdeir. She’s the cousin of Mohammed Abukdheir, a sixteen-year-old Palestinian boy who was kidnapped and burned alive by Israeli vigalantes on July 2.
TASNEEM ABU KHDEIR, PROTESTER: My cousin’s name is Mohammed Abukdheir. He passed away. Pretty much he was going to the mosque to pray Fajr. And he while he was waiting for between the two call for prayers, he was pretty much taken by three Israelis, not just, like, pulling people that lived around the area, and beaten up, tortured, burned alive, and then killed. And he was only, like, 16. He did nothing wrong.
NOOR: She also spoke about the violent beating by Israeli police of their cousin and Baltimore native Tariq Abu Khdeir for his alleged role in a violent demonstration.
ABU KHDEIR: I saw him two days before I left Palestine. He was still there. And he was just beaten up by police, just for no reason. Like, he was sitting outside his uncle’s store.
NOOR: Khdeir says such violence against Palestinians is the daily reality for those living under Israeli occupation.
ABU KHDEIR: While I was there, you can’t do any thing about it, because they’re trapped. And if you do something–every day for the past two, three days now–and it’s still going on–their police are coming to where we live in Palestine and taking five to ten guys from the family every day, just so they can have something to say, well, to scare the rest and never, ever fight back.
NOOR: Fellow Baltimore resident Nesreen Sawwan talked about having family in Gaza during the current conflict.
NESREEN SAWWAN, PROTESTER: The other day, they bombed the electricity station. And I was so worried. I was like, I’m already worried.
NOOR: That’s Gaza’s only power station, right?
SAWWAN: When they woke up in the morning, they talked to me, so I’m guessing it wasn’t their station.
NOOR: How much family do you have and where are they in Gaza? And have they been affected? I guess everyone’s been affected.
SAWWAN: Well, actually, my whole mother’s family, my mother’s side of the family, and some of my dad’s side of the family, which is hundreds, basically, and they’re affected. I call them. They’re saying, oh, we’re good, we’re okay, don’t worry about us. But really we already know what’s going on. We see see what’s on the news. And just today we they bombed the UNRWA school, and that is illegal.
NOOR: That’s the UN refugees.
SAWWAN: The UN schools that you are not allowed to bomb or touch. And they bomb that. And that is illegal, and the world needs to hear about that.
NOOR: Also in attendance was Reverend Heber Brown III, pastor of the Pleasant Hope Baptist Church and Real News board member.
DR. HEBER BROWN III, PASTOR, PLEASANT HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH: I am here today because I wanted to make sure that I lent my support to those who are calling for an end to the occupation of Palestine and lend my support to those who are saying it’s time for us to disarm and stop financing the Israeli occupation forces in Palestine-Israel right now. When you see the bloodshed and you see the siege around Gaza, we see the occupation of Palestine right now, I think it should call all of us to conscience.
NOOR: Brown says he sees parallels in the civil rights movement and the Palestinian liberation struggle.
BROWN: When we consider the fact that there are Jewish-only roads in Palestine-Israel right now and when we consider the fact that there are Jewish-only jobs, when we consider that there is state-sanctioned discrimination based on ethnicity–and I’ve seen this for myself. Thankfully, I was a part of a group, a delegation to Palestine-Israel with a group called Interfaith Peace Builders, and in 2010 I went to see for myself what was going on on the ground. And that’s how I learned what was going on. I met with Palestinians who were working for justice. I met with Israeli and Jewish allies who are following the leadership of Palestinians working for justice as well. And I listen to the reports of South Africa and persons who felt apartheid in South Africa who were looking at what’s going on in Israel and Palestine right now and saying, that is apartheid. And so I had to len my voice. I have to do my part. I made promises to people in Palestine when I was there, and I said, if I can’t do nothing else, I’m going to help to amplify your story and tell your story. And so the people in Beit Sahour, to the people in Bil’in, I’m here to say that we are with you and solidarity, not only here in Baltimore, but around the world. We’re standing with you in solidarity.
NOOR: He says Baltimore has an important role in ending U.S. support for Israeli military occupation.
BROWN: Well, for me, I think the connection is particularly important. Given our strategic location so close to Washington, D.C., I think it’s important for us in Baltimore to be engaged on this issue. In fact, just last week, Christians United for Israel, a Christian Zionist organization, met in Washington, D.C., and members here from Baltimore went down to raise their voices in protest and this Christian Zionist organization. I think in addition to that, we’re in the shadow of Johns Hopkins and we’re in the shadow of many other institutions here in the city that have connections to the occupation of Palestinians as well. Some of the technology that is researched here and created here is exported to the occupation of Palestinians as well. And so I think it’s particularly important for us here in Baltimore to be engaged, and even some of the same technology with the blue light cameras and the surveillance–. Some of the same surveillance equipment that’s used in Baltimore is some of the same technology used in Palestine. Some of the same oppressive techniques used on black people in Baltimore are some of the same techniques used on brown people in Palestine. And so the connection there for me is very clear from our tax dollars to the surveillance, to the methods of oppression. The connection’s a start.
CROWD: Resistance is justified when people are occupied. Resistance is justified–.
MOHAMED MANSOUR, PROTESTER: I’ve been going to these protests as I was a kid, and slowly, slowly, slowly I’ve been seeing the demographics change of who comes to these protests and who’s on which side and which not. And I think a lot of it’s just a matter of a lot of us are in a bubble and don’t quite realize what it is that’s going on, the same way that up until 1990, we didn’t realize that we were supporting apartheid in South Africa. I think a lot of Americans just don’t realize we’re supporting the same concept between Israel and Palestine right now.
CROWD: Hey, hey, ho, ho, the occupation’s got to go.
RYAN HARVEY, PROTESTER: This is a situation that’s being perpetuated with American money, with U.S. dollars, with U.S. tax dollars, with American weaponry. And so it ultimately is the responsibility that, like, partially falls down on us here. We want the photo and the videos from this and the story of this to be seen by people in Palestine so that they know, look, there’s a bunch of people in Baltimore who think what’s going on in Palestine is completely screwed up and it needs to stop.
NOOR: From Baltimore, this is Jaisal Noor.