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Protest to End Israel's “Bonds of Occupation”

By Hatem Abudayyeh

Israel bonds protest in Chicago

Chicago, IL - Palestinian activists and their supporters held a silent demonstration on June 13 to protest Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land. David Ivry, Israeli ambassador to the United States, was the keynote speaker at a black-tie dinner and fundraiser for Israel bonds at the Hilton Hotel and Towers downtown. The purchase of these bonds help finance illegal settlement projects in Palestine, where Jewish-only housing is built on stolen Palestinian land.

Protesters lined the wall against the hotel-bound together with paper chains-to represent the “bonds of occupation” that have oppressed the Palestinian people for generations.

“It must be clear to everyone that the occupation of Palestine did not begin in 1967 [when the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and Jerusalem were illegally occupied by Israeli forces]. All of historic Palestine, including the 1948 territories [the land now called “Israel”], is occupied land and belongs to Palestinians,” said Khaled Barakat of the Committee for a Democratic Palestine, one of the members of the Coalition for Justice in Palestine.

“Ending the occupation is critical, but the status of over 5 million Palestinian refugees must also be addressed,” added Nadia Omar, a Palestinian-American activist. “Their return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled is an inalienable right and must be immediately implemented.”

The Coalition for Justice in Palestine, a grouping of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim organizations was formed when the Intifada, or Uprising, erupted in Palestine in September of 2000. The Coalition for Justice in Palestine organized the demonstration, along with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Not In My Name (NIMN), a Jewish group opposed to the Israeli government's policy of violence against the civilian population of Palestine. The chains carried by protesters also represented bonds of solidarity between peoples of all ethnicities and faiths that were present at the protest.

The action marked the second time in the last month that the Coalition has worked together with AFSC and NIMN, a development that Cindy Levitt of Not In My Name feels is a major step. “Although it is important to speak out and educate other Jews about the reality of the occupation, it is equally important to demonstrate that all of our groups can work together on issues of justice,” she stated.

U.S. Role

The protest came at a time when the United States had become more involved in the conflict, by sending Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet to meet with Israeli and Palestinian security officials, after both sides agreed to implement a cease-fire arrangement. Despite the cease-fire, the Israeli military continued its siege of Palestinian towns and villages, restricting freedom of movement and attacking demonstrators and civilians in the occupied territories.

Since September of 2000, Israeli occupation forces have killed over 500 Palestinians and injured over 23,000 – including 6000 children. The U.S. sends over $5 million a year in taxpayers' money to support the Israeli military in its campaign of state terrorism against the Palestinians. For this reason, most Palestinians are rejecting Tenet's plan. “We do not want the CIA's intervention,” said an anonymous Palestinian from the West Bank. “This plan will divide national unity.”

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