Protest of US Torture and Isreali Occupation and Aggression in Gaza

Sunday being the anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo torture camp, I joined with others to protest US torture and other crimes against humanity.  Since there was a planned event to protest the US backed Israeli occupation and attack on Gaza, the organizers of the Guantanamo event decided to join with them for the beginning of their rally at Times Square.  I know that these issues are related.  US military aggression has its roots in the corporations that produce arms and weapons which benefit from the US giving their products to other countries as well as using them itself.  Innocent civilians in Gaza are being bombed from F-16s given to Israel by the US.  The US “war on terror” is really a war of terror.

It was bitterly cold.  The first time my feet became numb, I took refuge briefly at a coffee shop where I found another of our group doing the same.  Born in Somalia, now a student of international relations at City College, he had interesting things to say about his hopes for the rebirth of US diplomacy.  I agree, of course, that life in the US is beyond telling better than that in Somalia.  I do, however, fear that life in Somalia is due in part at least to US policy driven by US corporations whose only interest is profits.   Until US stops allowing oil and arms corporations to dictate policy, things will not change.

Along these lines I find it interesting that as we were protesting, the Mayor of New York City and the governor of New York State were at a rally at the Israeli embassy expressing unconditional support for the Israeli attack on Gazans.

After years of activism and protest,  I don’t have much faith that the opinions of most Americans, or  even their votes, determine government actions.  Government at every level in the US is owned by US corporation.

My young friend and I returned to freeze again yet a while.  I was touched by the number of babies and children at the protest, most of them children of Palestinian Americans.   Several of the young boys donned the orange jump suits that prisoners at Guantanamo are forced to wear.  We know that some of the prisoners there were little older than these young boys when they were sent to Cuba to be tortured.  Some of them remain there to this day.

The rally was long.  My contingent planned to march in the orange jump suits downtown to 34th Street to highlight the issue of US torture.   I usually love marches, but it was bitterly cold and the young were better able than I to march, so I left it to them.

There is hardly a word in the media about this huge rally protesting Israel’s history of inhumane treatment of Palestinians and its attack on Gaza.  The people of Gaza are fenced in by Israel and cannot flee,  Many civilians are dying.  I have seen the attack compared to shooting fish in a barrel.   Here is a link to an alternative news account of violence that occurred toward the end of this protest.  I do not know anyone who went uptown and so have no first hand accounts to post.  I had actually commented on the relatively good behavior of the police during this protest, but the account linked above says there were abusive remarks from police all during the event.  Since I would not likely be taken for a Palestinian, perhaps I came in for different treatment.

The young Somalian American said that many of the problems in Africa do come from former colonialism, but that Africans have the choice of forever lamenting that and refusing to move forward or of taking stock of their world now and working to make things better for themselves.  I thought about that in the context of Israel.  I deplore and abominate the Nazi genocide and every incidence of oppression of Jews.  I also wish that they could move forward.  The perpetrators of Nazi persecution were tried and held accountable.  It is time for Israel and the Jews to look at what is real now, to assess situations realistically and to learn to live in peace.

It is also time to hold current day perpetrators of crimes against humanity accountable.   High on the list are US and Israeli officials.  Until we can take stock of ourselves and take responsibility for our actions, there will be no justice and no peace.

In the news today are indications that Obama will announce the closing of Guantanamo in the first days of his regime.  I sincerely hope he will close that torture camp.  I am acutely aware, however of the extent of US torture, which is not limited to the camp at Guantanamo.  Obama promises to escalate the war in Afghanistan, which is already responsible for US crimes against humanity.  I have not heard that he plans to close the torture center at Bagram.  What about Abu Graib?    What about the black sites?  Torture is a facet of US policy.  The US needs to review all the “laws” it has passed that permit torture and rescind them.  It needs to hold itself accountable for all the torture it has committed and stop it.

There is much more to do.

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