MARCH ON WASHINGTON: PALESTINE

In Solidarity, As Strong as Ever…

A week before leaving for Washington, DC to voice our dissent against corporate domination and a militarized society, several of the global justice activists from Syracuse, who have previously protested supranational economic institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Economic Forum, had an intense teach-in on the Palestine crisis. Learning about the historical colonial roots of Palestine and the violent dynamics of the Middle East well prepared me to march with determination and purpose on the streets of my nation's capital. I realized my govern-ment's direct role in the oppression of the Palestinians, and my responsibility to the Palestinian people as a tax-paying citizen of this nation.

This being my fourth mass demonstration, and having braved the police violence in Quebec City and the relative homogeneity of the protesters, I was totally unprepared for the mass of people and the sheer diversity in the streets. Never could I have imagined seeing grandmothers pushing baby strollers (and little signs gently placed near the child to "free Palestine"), or young children fervently marching, chanting passionately, leading the chants over the bullhorn: "Bush! Sharon! You will see! Palestine...will be free!" These children understood their signs and chants, and realized the importance of why they were in the streets.

Out of all the feeder marches, the Palestine one was by far the largest. Perhaps some who wanted other issues at the fore may have been put off by that march usurping the others. From my place in the march, however, and during a Palestine conference held at American University the Friday before the marches, I saw activists linking causes almost seamlessly together.

Protesters understood how neo-liberal corporatization of their culture was intimately tied to the militarization of their society, and thus the carnage in the Middle East. Their signs and chants demonstrated this quite forcefully: "Bush, Bush, what do you say? How much money did you give today?;" "Fund Education, Not Occupation;" "Occupation is a shame, No more killing in our name" and "A boy dies, Before our eyes; The world cries. And the US supplies."

Jews marched beside Palestinians, beside Europeans, beside Americans—both Southern and Northern. At the rally convergence at the Mall, a row of a dozen rabbis dressed in black stood behind pro-Palestinian speakers. What I saw during this march on Washington was understanding, peace and solidarity. Free! Free Palestine!

Virginia Rodino