Video: 5,000 Texans March For Gaza

The revolutionary spirit is alive and well in Texas, as demonstrated by the droves who came out in support of Palestine and to call for change in Israeli actions.
By @KitOConnell |
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    Texas Gaza

    AUSTIN, Texas — “But we do not have much time. The revolutionary spirit is already worldwide. If the anger of the peoples of the world at the injustice of things is to be channeled into a revolution of love and creativity, we must begin now to work, urgently, with all people, to shape a new world.”

    On Aug. 2, Sheikh Islam Mossaad ended his speech at the Texas Stands With Gaza rally by quoting these words of Martin Luther King, Jr. The quotation was preceded by a passionate speech invoking the spirit of dead Palestinian children and calling on the living youth of the world to take up their struggle.

    It set the tone for a historic moment — the largest rally for Gaza in the Lone Star State since the beginning of Israel’s military offensive dubbed Operation Protective Edge, and likely the largest pro-Palestine rally ever in the state. A crowd of thousands grew through the speeches and swelled further as it turned from a rally on the state capitol grounds to a march down Congress, the central artery running through downtown Austin, to City Hall. People came off the sidewalks to stand against Israel’s war crimes, to stand with an oppressed people, until the peaceful march stretched to five blocks long and included at least 5,000 Gaza supporters.

    After smaller rallies in their respective cities, Texas Stands With Gazabrought together activists and organizations from Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, under a diverse umbrella ranging from interfaith groups to Iraq Veterans Against the War. Chartered buses brought hundreds from around the state. Unseasonably mild weather kept temperatures only in the 80s, a boon since the many pallets of water provided by organizers ran out under the thirst of unexpected throngs.

    A revolutionary spirit was apparent in almost every moment of the event that followed Mossaad’s opening speech. This crowd stood not just againstthe human rights’ violations of the current Israeli offensive, which has left about 2,000 civilians dead, destroyed over 10,000 civilian homes, and injured over 6,000, but forthe rights of Palestinians to live peacefully and not under terror or siege. Before he spoke, Dr. Snehal Shingavi, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a perennial activist for social justice, led the crowd of thousands in a chant of “Resistance is justified when Gaza is occupied!

    Texas Gaza

    “‘Never again’ means never again for anyone”

    In her speech, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb related the plight of Gaza to other social justice struggles:

    “I grew up in the civil rights movement and my rabbis, the rabbis of my youth, they were getting arrested, they were going to jail because they could not stand segregation in the United States. An evil institution which is still so much the reason we cannot see what is happening in Gaza, because we are still such a racist society […] so how can we see what is happening in Gaza without struggling for justice here at home?”

    Gottlieb told the crowd that the first word she learned in Arabic as a young woman in Israel was “nakba.””Nakba,” which means disaster, is not limited to a single day, she explained, it is an ongoing destruction of Palestinian life and Palestinian culture through ethnic cleansing since Israel colonized historic Palestine in 1948.

    According to Gottlieb, the Jewish Federation of Greater Austin told their members not to counter-protest for fear of drawing too much attention to the rally. But like Gottlieb, other Jews had followed their sense of outrage to Israel’s brutal assault and injustice throughout the march.

    A revolutionary spirit had led Naomi (she asked that MintPress News use only her first name) to push her own boundaries by attending her first rally for Palestine. When we found her, she wore a look of deep and almost overwhelming emotion. Naomi, who describes herself as openly queer, laughed as she told MintPress she’d been out of the closet to her Jewish friends about everything except her support for Gaza.

    She’d been inspired to come by the example of Ernest Rosenthal, a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor who demonstrated for Gaza in Los Angeles.

    “I felt ashamed that he’s 95 and being active and all I was doing was sitting around, talking about it on Facebook,” Naomi said.

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    After deciding to attend the rally, “I made the sign ‘I am Jewish and I stand with Gaza’ because I think it’s important to say that publicly — to show that it’s not about Jews versus Palestinians. It’s not a tribal conflict, it’s a political one.”

    What she hadn’t expected was how much attention her simple poster board sign would draw. “A lot of people asked to take my picture. […] Several wanted me to be in a picture with them. People thanked me for coming. One man came over just to shake my hand. A woman gave me a hug and she was almost crying and she said ‘Thank you for understanding.’ The positive response I got was really powerful and moving. It was important to me to do it but I didn’t realize just how important it would be to other people.”

    Meanwhile, Rabbi Gottlieb spoke directly to those of her faith who hesitated to attend.

    “By standing with the people of Gaza, you arestanding with the Jewish people. Because how can we, the Jewish people who know the Holocaust, how can we witness what is happening and not be present to say ‘Not In Our Name?’ I learned from the rabbis of my youth that ‘Never Again’ means never again for anyone.”

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    The lies won’t stick anymore

    After the march ended at Austin City Hall, MintPress met Banafsheh Madaninejad. Madaninejad, who teaches at Southwestern University, has a long history of activism for Palestine. She’d helped organize the day’s events.

    “I was a student at [the University of Texas at Austin] for ten years and every once in a while — especially in 2009-2010, last time Gaza was under siege — we’d do all this. We’d do gatherings, we’d get together, have rallies and protests. I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said.

    The pro-war crowd had been conspicuously absent at the previous two, smaller Austin rallies as well as this one — something she also commented on.

    “There is nothing that can justify what is going on, whatsoever,” Madaninejad explained. “[Israel is] out of excuses. They keep telling the lies, but they don’t stick anymore. I truly feel that public opinion is turning. [Americans are] finally getting to see what’s really going on — that the core problem is the occupation.”

    We asked Madaninejad what is different now.

    “I think because Israel has truly shown its colors. It has gone overboard. You listen to the Knesset [Israel’s national legislature] and they’re talking about ethnic cleansing. They’re talking about killing kids. They’re pretty open about their agenda with no holding back anymore. If anyone was in doubt in the United States they are slowly turning. They are asking themselves, ‘What is going on?'”
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    Beyond questioning the media

    The Texans at the rally seemed eager to do more than just question the mainstream media story on Israel and Palestine.

    A flier was passed around with possible targets for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS — including locals like Motorola, which has a branch in Austin’s “Silicon Hills.”

    During Rabbi Gottlieb’s speech, the crowd chanted “Shame on you!” against American support of Israeli war crimes. Since World War II, Israel has received more military aid from the United States than any other nation — an average of $1.8 billion dollars every year. Additionally, documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and recently released by the Intercept reveal that American intelligence agencies share money, raw data and technology with Israeli intelligence to further Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

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    But Gottlieb cautioned: “And shame on us if we do not leave here with our signs and our feelings and we do not organize!”

    As the march passed a statue of Angelina Eberly, the hero of the Texas Archive War, a young man leapt atop her cannon and waved a Palestinian flag in a figure-eight around himself. That Saturday afternoon, a revolutionary spirit had thousands of Texans ready to act.


    Jeff Zavala contributed to this report.


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      • Global Citizen

        Susan and Rocco seemed to have left reality for out of space (or maybe they are both a little high??). Which planet are you actually living on guys? Would you like to come down to planet earth for a few minutes to actually register some of the incredulous nonsense that you have just posted… I was pondering whether brain damage may have effected you both at some stage of your lives and I actually started to have pangs of sympathy for you both. It is a very sad when the life of a child means so little (Palestinian children seem to mean less to you then an Israeli one). Racism and bigotry is a disease and it rots the soul from the inside. You both do not seem to have a soul, your arguments are not only untruths but mediocre and we have heard it all before…. Israeli weapons are just more accurate?? REALLY Susan that is what you came up with? Israel- Anti missile defence, 1 million army, unlimited tanks, fighter drones, missles, bombs of all types (illegal mostly), American money flowing like milk from a fermenting teat… up against a small group of people who have no army, no tanks, no anti-defence system, are closed in from all sides by traitors and jailers, have had food and medicine sadistically limited for 7 years, have no right to defend themselves, have no actual heavy weapons, have no financial support from the repulsive US military machine, have only hand made missiles. Are you sooooo cowardly that with all this apparent weapons of mass destruction that your scared of a few groups of men who have obviously handed Israels IDF, its ass when in combat. Could it be that if the playing field was actually remotely even (which it obviously is not unless you truly are suffering from severe brain damage)… that Israeli troops would run like the terrified little bunnies that they are and probably trip over their guns in the process. Lets not kid ourselves here. We all know the truth cos its as blatant as the nose on your face. The Israelis are gutless, they need a boogy man (Aka Hamas) to fight against because it sits better then the fact that they are slaughtering a civilian population who have been terrorised, undernourished and 50% of which are under the age of 17 years. Its better then proclaiming the truth to the world that Israel doesn’t find it ghastly to shoot and kill little children. That it actually celebrates mass murder, bombings and then blaming Hamas. Look at the devil running this little horror show, netanyahell and his kretin misfits, they will be all of your downfalls. Every ISRAELI killer will be brought to justice. I hope that when this time comes you are ready to endure the anguish that you have visited upon others…

        • roccolore

          Muslims like you are the murderers who fly planes into buildings and kill over cartoons.

      • Susan Beatrice Karimchise

        I have no sympathy for gaza.
        They brought it on themselves.
        Israel is using their weapons to protect their people, Hamas is using their
        people to protect their weapons.
        Why do they dig tunnels into Israel?
        To attack Israelis of course.
        Israel defends itself and is demonized.
        Every other arab country cannot stand the Palestinians.
        They are just a convenient propaganda tool.

        • Global Citizen

          Please remove the photo that you are using Susan, you are a wretched vindicator and propaganda writer gone wrong. Do you really think by placing a photo of muslim person and then ranting pro-Zionist filth that you are going to convince anyone of the blood cold murder of innocent children and families. How many Israeli children have been killed in this massacre? None. How many Palestinian children have been killed? Thousands and still counting. How many Israeli children have been injured? None. How many Palestinian children have been left wounded, without medicine or electricity to treat them, have had limbs removed without simple painkillers or infection meds? thousands. Who created Hamas in the 1970s to oppose the PLO? Israel and America. Who Created Israel in 1948? The English. I have no sympathy for scum like you and the Israeli filth that you breed (another generation of child killers) and if you had any common sense or intelligence than your statements clearly show just how ignorant you are. If you wish to spread propaganda to stupid people then they may fancy this level of stupidity but the wider broader people around the world are not as stupid as you think they are. The Palestinians have done a fantastic job of standing against brutal oppressors for over 60 years with their heads held high. The other Arab states are still checking for their long lost manhoods so they may take a while to react….

          • roccolore

            Fascist Democrats like you think women should be forced to wear black garbage bags. Fascist Democrats like you think Boko Haram and Hamas are victims.

          • Susan Beatrice Karimchise

            Empty vessels make the most noise.

      • ect

        great commentary, thank you.

        • http://kitoconnell.com/ Kit O’Connell

          You’re welcome, thanks for reading!

      • Jimmy Yost

        Maybe the reason these Texans are protesting is to try to compensate for the guilt they feel for propping up miscreants like Bush Jr., Rick Perry, John Hagee, and a gaggle of others who are nearly as evil as them.

        • http://kitoconnell.com/ Kit O’Connell

          The political dialogue is much more complex in Texas than outsiders give us credit for. Look at the thousands who took part in protest and even direct action last summer at the legislature and the intense activation over Wendy Davis’ campaign. Gerrymandering and other factors have hurt the left a lot here, but it’s far from dead.

      • warisaracketbysmedleybutler

        The truth is we are a Zionist occupied country. Zionism is a fascist ideology masquerading behind religion as an excuse for Imperialism and Genocide. Perhaps as Americans we can see similarities to the concept of Manifest Destiny that we are taught about in grade school and middle school. These people do not represent true Judaism or Christianity. From what I understand true Judaism says that saving one life is the equivalent of saving the entire human race. True Christianity says to treat others as you would want them to treat you. The sad reality is these people have infiltrated western society, especially countries like the USA, UK, Canada, France, Australia, etc and have embedded themselves in the most important institutions of our society such as banking and the media. They use propaganda and mind control techniques to suppress public discourse on Zionism and influence public opinion (Read ‘Propaganda’ by Edward Bernays written in the 1930s).. Anyone who mentions Zionism or criticizes it is slandered by the media and other institutions as an “Anti-Semite” and “racist”. After a while the public starts to believe this when they see the corporate propaganda media continually drilling this in to our heads and politicians, puppets of these Zionists, likewise saying the same thing. This could not be farther from the truth. This is the truth, whether you want to believe it or not.

        • roccolore

          Fascist liberal, if you hate Jews, then move to Iran.

          • warisaracketbysmedleybutler

            Stupid ignorant, twat dumbass. Iran has the largest Jewish population in the world outside Israel. It is also home to one of the oldest Jewish diaspora groups. What a fucking waste of a brain you are.

      • Inang

        And jeez rocco, why would anyone support ZIONISM who would have anyone killed for resisting its IMPERIALISM and its PREDATORY immoral civilization?! See how evil Zionism is – at
        http://www.veteranstoday.com/2014/06/07/rabbi-schneerson-terrorism-and-talmudic-metaphysics/
        , Rabbi Schneerson, Terrorism, and Talmudic Metaphysics, Posted by Jonas E.
        Alexis, June 7th, 2014). That’s why they love endless GENOCIDE/child.sacrifice!

      • William Hinkle

        Keep in mind Rick Perry flew at least twice to the Ferengi Nation (false i$rael) to pledge allegiance.

        • http://kitoconnell.com/ Kit O’Connell

          True. Many Texans don’t support Perry’s policies about Israel or pretty much anything else. We spent tens of thousands to criminalize abortion last session (despite the voices of thousands in opposition to the law), while meanwhile our roads are so badly funded some paved roads are being replaced by gravel to save money. This state is a mess!

      • Inang

        So rocco, you think the occupied INDIGENOUS Palestinian have no rights to resist nor defend themselves – whilst Israel-Zionist Imperialist terrorists can get away with GENOCIDE?! Here, you better educate yourself -. see http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/concentrate-and-exterminate-israel-parliament-deputy-speakers-gaza-genocide-plan , “Concentrate” and “exterminate”: Israel parliament deputy speaker’s Gaza genocide plan,
        Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Sun, 08/03/2014!

        • roccolore

          Fascist Democrat, do you think blaming Jews for everything helps your cause?

      • roccolore

        They march for Hamas. And why is a queer marching in support of the very people who would have her killed?

        • http://kitoconnell.com/ Kit O’Connell

          This was a march for the human rights of Palestinian people. We can recognize the human rights of those who disagree with us. In fact, that’s one of the most important qualities of empathy.

        • Global Citizen

          Dear Rocco, are you some how related to the not so bright susan below? Could it be that you are both sitting in a Zionist chatroom together and getting paid for such stupidity or are you actually someone who believes in such garbage. So people are marching for hamas, not against the thousands of people slaughtered worse then cattle in with the worlds most high tech military equipment? Its definitely not about the poor defenceless people who were bombed to pieces while sitting in their living rooms? I’m sure if we placed you and your family in GAZA while the cowardly IDF pounded you with all their military might that you may have another point of view or would at least acknowledge that you would wet your pants. Please provide some less pathetic Zionist propaganda to argue against as it is all becoming very boring and the ISRAELIS must be running out of blatant lies and excuses. humanity is shared by all but oppressors and killers do not belong to humanity.

          • roccolore

            Democrats like you are fascists who blame Jews for everything. You make excuses for Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Fascist Democrats like you defend Hamas using kids as human shields and hiding bombs in their terror mosques. Democrats like you defend the real human rights violators like Cuba. Democrats like you are the coward who attack Israel yet ignore the 57 Muslim countries that want Israel gone. Fascist Democrat, if you are such a champion of gays, why do you defend the Muslims who kill gays? Fascist Democrats like you support those who bomb hospitals, synagogues, buses, and nightclubs.