National DC August 12th Rally–Introspection by Masood Rab

Saturday, August 12, 2006 was a beautiful day—a picture perfect day for lying on the lawn of Lafayette Park in Washington, DC, closing eyes and turning over in thoughts the pages of tragic events of the past few weeks in Palestine and Lebanon. There was a big crowd gathering in the park very close to the White House. Children, youth, men and women of diverse backgrounds, all concerned with the tragedies of Lebanon and Palestine.

The sea of signs, banners and displays read: “Occupation is Crime – Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine,” “Free, Free Palestine,” “No Justice No Peace,” “Stop Israeli Terrorism.”

More then 150 buses brought demonstrators from, MI, IL, NY, MD, FL, VA, MA, NJ and 25 other states. Muslims of all different races but united by their strong disapproval of the Bush administration’s quiet acquiescence to Israel’s attacks on Lebanon. Christians, Jews and other anti war protesters also walked among the Muslims to express their sympathies for human rights and disgust with Israel.

“Free, Free – Palestine” the crowd started chanting as the speakers were being presented on the podium by the organizers. Young Palestinian girls chanted, “Israel Out of Lebanon Now” and young Lebanese boys taking the microphone to say, “Free, Free Palestine”, a demonstration of solidarity transcending national lines. More then 30,000 demonstrators filled the streets around the White House, at the end of speeches, chanting, “Stop the US-Israeli war against Lebanon and Palestine.”

The demonstration was initiated by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom Foundation, and the National Council of Arab Americans. The speakers who offered their analysis and condemnation of Israeli and US governments were as diverse as the US tapestry—Muslims, Arabs, Christians, Jews, Cubans, Koreans, and more.

Among other prominent attendees were: Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; Mara Verheyden-Hilliard an attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice; Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; Dr. Mounzer Sleiman of the National Council of Arab Americans; Carl Messineo, a Jewish American activist; Osama Siblani, Publisher of the Arab American News; Peta Lindsay Howard University student and Coordinator ANSWER Student and Youth; Dr. Clovis Maksoud the Former ambassador from the Arab League to the U.N, Arab-American Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC), and others.

In his speech, Carl Messioneo a Jewish community activist, noted, “The formula of Israel—a state built upon the domination by the Jewish people over historically Arab lands—is a formula for never-ending conflict. This is also the formula of the imperial powers and the U.S. government, which use Israel as a proxy in their efforts to re-colonize and establish geo-political domination over the so-called “new Middle East.” There is no security for anyone. Not for Muslims, not for Christians, not for Jews.

“The Israelis assert that the slaughter of Lebanon is in the self defense of Zionism. As a progressive Jew, I want nothing to do with that brutal and unjust ideology….[B]eing opposed to Zionism is not the same as being anti-Semitic.

Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, said Mr. Bush owed Muslims an apology. “There is no doctrine of fascism in Islam,’’ he said. “It is crucial that we maintain this intensity and return to our communities fully committed to the pursuit of justice for Muslims and all people, at home and abroad…. As I’ve so often said, when the rally ends, that’s when the real work begins.”

As Charles Carlson of WHTT stated:
“Now it is up to us to convince the warring Christian Right that Jesus would not bomb anyone. These are not enemy aliens; they are our close friends and even our families.” •

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