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Monday, June 15, 2009

5-6-7-8: Israel Is A Fascist State

What happened to my friends as I was flying over the Atlantic back home to my beloved [update: now up at HuffPo]:

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was making a major foreign policy speech at Tel Aviv university on June 14, 2009, Israeli police outside the university attacked international protesters of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, illegal settlements and the apartheid wall.

Heavy handed police treatment of the CODEPINK: Women for Peace delegation began immediately after members of the group unfurled several pink banners that read “Free Gaza” and “End the Occupation.”  CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin and New York activist Zool Zulkowitz were physically dragged across the street from their original protest site next to the entrance gate to Bar Ilan University where audience members and press entered the university complex to attend the speech.

Several hours later, a French journalist who was a member of the CODEPINK delegation, was arrested as she crossed a small street in an attempt to take photos of the demonstration.  As she was placed in an Israeli police car, several members of the delegation converged to determine why the journalist was being held.  Israeli police and military violently shoved the group back into a wall.  Delegation member Tighe Barry from Santa Monica, California was struck in the face with the butt of a military rifle and pushed to the ground where he could barely breathe.  He was taken by ambulance to the Trauma Center of Tal-Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv where he was treated for a concussion, an injured neck and an asthma attack.  Medea Benjamin and several other delegation members were bruised in the arms and upper body from being shoved and manhandled by the police and military.

The journalist was taken to a local police station and released an hour later without charges.  Mr. Barry was treated overnight at the hospital.

The CODEPINK delegation has requested that the Israeli police and military investigate the brutality used by their forces on the peaceful, non-violent protesters.

When President Obama spoke in Cairo on June 4, a separate CODEPINK delegation that had just returned from six days in Gaza in early June, held a demonstration right outside Cairo University holding signs that read “Stop funding Israeli War Crimes.”  Egyptian police allowed the demonstration to take place.

“Is this the great democracy that the U.S. taxpayers pay for with $3 billion dollars a year?”, cried Medea Benjamin as she was being dragged away by the police.

(by Ann Wright)

I admit I was feeling rather left out as we were discussing the action the night before.  I guess now a little selfishly I'm kinda glad I missed out, although I'll note I probably would've ended up being arrested like Flore instead of beaten up like Tighe given my MO.

I'd actually been in a group of delegates who volunteered to be arrested during actions if it made sense tactically.  Not that we wanted to be arrested, or would court it, but would take advantage of the opportunity to create more trouble for the police, get visuals of Americans protesting their country's policies in Israel, etc.  At no time did it make sense, however, according to the guidelines we'd developed.

Tighe was one of the six of us who'd ended up at the front of the Bil'in protest on Friday with our Palestinian friends.  I'll have more details about that later, but suffice to say he is a brave man: several minutes after I'd retreated with the rest of our delegates, he was still up at the fence yelling through the bullhorn at the IDF, telling them to cease fire.  Not a surprise that he ended up in the midst of the police brutality, particularly since part of his approach is to peacefully engage with cops as they are trying to enforce authority.

Get well, brother.  Your hard work throughout this delegation and previous ones, and willingness to put yourself on the line, really pushes the cause forward and will help end this conflict.  Insha'allah.


June 15, 2009 in Pax Americana, Viva Palestina | Permalink


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