Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Supporters around the World Show Solidarity for Gaza Freedom March

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Supporters around the World Show Solidarity for Gaza Freedom March

Article excerpt

ACTIVISTS in cities around the globe organized peaceful actions between Dec. 27, 2009 and the first days of January to send their elected officials and neighbors a message: The Israeli government must "Lift the Siege on Gaza Now!" London, Sydney, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Marseille, Reims, Belfast, Bern, Seoul, and towns across the West Bank, the United States and Canada held their own Gaza Freedom Marches or vigils in solidarity with 1,300 marchers from more than 43 countries who participated in the historic Gaza Freedom March. The Egyptian government prevented all but a handful of marchers from entering Gaza via the Rafah border crossing.

In Canada, a massive Gaza Freedom March was held at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Vancouver, British Columbia on Dec. 31, and another on New Year's Day in Calgary, Alberta. More than 1,000 Gaza Freedom Marchers took to the streets of Toronto on Dec. 27, marching from the Israeli Embassy to Dundas Square. Toronto streets were packed with Sunday shoppers, who looked on or joined the march as it took over Yonge Street. Many snapped photos and honked horns in support when "Free, Free Palestine" was boomed from the sound truck. Local media covered the march and activists brought attention to the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel; Egypt's (U.S.-inspired) unwillingness to open the Gaza borders to international activists; as well as Israel's recent attacks on Palestinian workers and activists in the occupied territory.

Alaskans For Palestine gathered on Jan. 2 in 8 degree weather to show their support for the Gaza Freedom March and demand the lifting of Israel's blockade of Gaza. Local NBC and CBS news affiliates covered the event on the local news.

This reporter's camera-and this reporter!-froze at a march and vigil organized by DC activist Shelley Fudge, of Jewish Voice for Peace, outside the Chinatown Metro in Washington, DC on Dec. 30. It was so cold some people were reluctant to take their hands out of pockets to accept free copies of the Washington Report.

Andy Shallal, owner of the Busboys & Poets restaurants, updated the DC marchers, saying that his wife was in Egypt participating in the Free Gaza March. More than 200 participants soon warmed up, singing "Peace and Justice in the Middle East Song Lyrics" by Perry V. King to familiar tunes like "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "We Shall Overcome." Steve France provided new lyrics to the Bob Dylan song "Blowin' in the Wind":

How many times must Gaza's children bleed, before America will care?

(Yes and) How many homes will Israelis destroy, before we say it's not fair?...

The answer, my friend, is in Washington, the answer is in Washington.

Lucy Murphy sang one of her very moving songs, "Palestine Needs Her Freedom." There were no press reports of the DC vigil, and very little coverage of the travails of Gaza Freedom March participants in Egypt in The Washington Post.

A demonstration, again in sub-freezing weather, was later held in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Washington on Jan. 2, 2010. A press release passed out at the action stated it was being held in response to the sabotaging of the Gaza Freedom March by the Egyptian regime. Egypt receives about $2 billion a year in foreign aid from the American taxpayers, and Israel around $3.5 billion.

Women in Black was one of the organizations sponsoring a Jan. 1, 2010 "Vigil for Gaza" at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. …

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