Protest for Palestine

15 May 2021

crowd from a distance
Rittehouse Square in central Philadelphia PA. Crowd starts gathering near the Southern end of the park.

For many years, there has been a split between Democaratic politicians and Democratic constituencies on the subject of Israel/Palestinians. and of course between Democrats and everyone else, in that Democratic constituencies have become increasingly pro-Palestinian and increasingly skeptical that Israel is a worthy (moral and decent) ally. As of the 13th fof this month,

The recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that has controlled Gaza since 2007, has so far left at least seven people in Israel dead from Hamas rockets and around 70 Palestinians, including 16 children, dead, more than 300 injured, and entire apartment buildings flattened in Gaza from Israeli airstrikes.

The old paradigm of Israel being the courageous, scrappy "David" against the "Goliath" of surrounding, hostile Arab countries has given way to Israel being the oppressive, occupying Goliath against the strugglind Palestinian David that's just barely surviving in two territories: a broken-up West Bank (see 12th image, "West Bank Area C Map") and Gaza, that's been under siege since 2007, after the military/guerrilla group Hamas won an election. Neither territory has had free and unrestricted access to the outside world for many years.

gathering for march

The official statement from the US Secretary of State -

I spoke with President Abbas about the ongoing situation in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. I expressed condolences for the loss of life. I emphasized the need to end rocket attacks and deescalate tensions

Which sounds to me as though Antony Blinken is aiming for a restoration of the status quo, but as this 10-year old Palestinian girl makes clear, the status quo wasn't working for her or for her people. She is convinced that Israel just plain bears an irrational hatred for all Palestinians.

There is a way to defeat an insurgency and to make guerrillas powerless. The US tried in both North Vietnam during the 60s and in Nicaragua duing the 80s, to start insurgencies in territories where the enemy was politically powerful. The North Vietnamese effort was a complete crash and burn failure. reports that:

two U.S. Navy destroyers, U.S.S. Maddox and U.S.S. Turner Joy...
were there as part of an effort to support South Vietnamese military raids on what was then the North Vietnamese coast.

Except the destroyers weren't just supporting raids, they were trying, unsuccessfully, to start an insurgency in the North. Part of the reason that the Gulf of Tonkin incident started off the Lyndin Johnson phase of the Vietnam War was that the effort was clearly going nowhere.

The US was a bit more successful in Nicragua, the Contras occupied areas in the North, but never made inroads in the heavily-populated South-West part of the country.

march starts

Video of march

Part of the problem in separating the civlian population of Gaza from the Hamas militants is that Israel prevents concrete from getting into the territory. Concete can be used to build fortifications, but it's also a very common building material for houses and apartment buildings. The Israeli blockade affects both Hamas and civilians equally. The Palestinian Authority (Which controls the West Bank) says: "...Israel was preventing it from sending coronavirus vaccines to the Gaza Strip that are intended for frontline medical workers in the territory controlled by the Islamic militant group Hamas." Again, Israeli actions affect both Hamas and civilians in Gaza equally. 
Update: It would not have been in the self-interest of news organizations to have been sharing a building with military assets of the Hamas government as that would have effectively "put a target on their backs." Newspeople of course, would have  been aware of a militant group being in their building, so it's actually pretty doubtful that Hamas had any presence in the 12-story building that was destroyed recently by an Israeli airstrike.

BLM flag

Slate addresses the alliance between the Black Lives Matter movement and Palestinians. The two groups see themselves as essentially on the same side. They both want peaceful solutions, but have to convince a strong adversary to ease up and to permit greater freedom.

The comedian john Oliver points out the enormous imbalance between the two sides in the conflict. The damage that Israel is doing to Palestinians vastly outweighs what Palestinians can possibly do in return.

In the latest conflict, the initial problem between Israelis and Palestinians came about over the Israeli attempt to evict Palestinians from homes that they had occupied for decades. There is indeed an Israeli law that permits this. If Jewish people occupied a house or houses before 1948, Israelis are permitted to re-occupy those houses. If nothing else, Palestinians should pay rental for the houses. But no reciprocity is permitted. Palestinians may not sue to re-occupy houses that were taken by force, no matter when the houses were occupied by Israelis.Palestinians simply refused to comply with an Israeli Supreme Court ruling that said they had to abandon the Sheikh Jarrah houses. 


The MSNBC newsperson Ali Velshi comments that Israel's "right to exist" shouldn't just be a one-way street. Palestinians should also have that same right.

The blogger here covers the origins of the present dispute in great detail, but especially points out that:

Although Israeli political trends have always been reflected in domestic U.S. politics, the growing synergy between the Israeli and U.S. hard right is especially strong. At no point was this more evident than during former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, which worked hard to do away with international norms and reinforce the permanency of both Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its settlements there.

This is disturbing. I read the first column that Bret Stephens wrote for the NY Times. It was dishonest and made a bogus case for dismissing climate change. I haven't taken anything he's said seriously since.Now it turns out he'd been taking money from a pro-Israel advocacy group from earlier this year without disclosing that fact.


As of 8:30pm, according to the Mondoweiss liveblog:

The US is blocking UN calls for a ceasefire.
Also, Palestinians are calling for a general strike on the 18th.


Early this year, The Jewish peace group B’Tselem concluded Israel had become an Apartheid society. A sociey that had a first-class set of citizens and lower-class set that had fewer rights. Recently, Human Rights Watch joined them and reached the same concusion. Also,

...the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided, despite intense Israeli lobbying and American pressure, to open an investigation of alleged war crimes committed in occupied Palestine.

Israel is now under serious pressure to prove that it is behaving in accordance with international law.