10,000 In Street Against Israel in Dearborn, MI
by Niraj Warikoo/Ben Schmitt, DFP
Thursday, Jul. 20, 2006 at 12:09 AM
(report from the bourgeois press) Carrying banners saying "Stop Israeli Terrorism" and chanting antiwar slogans, some 10,000 people rallied in the center of metro Detroit's Arab-American community in Dearborn on Tuesday, demanding that the U.S. government put pressure on Israel to halt attacks in Lebanon.
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DEARBORN ANTIWAR PROTEST: 10,000 unite for Lebanon
Violence called 'appalling'; Israeli backers to rally today
BY NIRAJ WARIKOO and BEN SCHMITT
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
July 19, 2006
(photo caption) Dearborn residents Nadeen Hasan, left, and her mother, Mona Hasan, were among those marching in Dearborn in support of Lebanon on Tuesday. About 225 people have been killed in Lebanon, and 25 have died in Israel. (KATHLEEN GALLIGAN/Detroit Free Press)
Carrying banners saying "Stop Israeli Terrorism" and chanting antiwar slogans, some 10,000 people rallied in the center of metro Detroit's Arab-American community in Dearborn on Tuesday, demanding that the U.S. government put pressure on Israel to halt attacks in Lebanon.
Although the protesters were peaceful, their message was strong, representing a profound difference of opinion between two of metro Detroit's most vital communities.
Arab-American marchers carried signs saying "Down, down Israel" and chanted, "One, two, three, four. Stop the bombing. Stop the war."
Meanwhile, members of the Jewish community -- who have a rally scheduled for 7 tonight at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield -- have repeatedly said that Israel's air strikes on Lebanese targets have been intended to protect Israel from the militant group Hizballah, which is strong in southern Lebanon. Hizballah also has sent rockets and bombs into northern Israel.
Israel's attacks on Lebanon began about a week ago after Hizballah guerrillas attacked a patrol on the border in northern Israel and captured two soldiers.
As many as 226 people have been killed in Lebanon. About 25 have been killed in Israel.
Police estimated the crowd in Dearborn at more than 10,000. Protesters, some draped in the Lebanese flag, marched to Hemlock Park. There, speakers shouted their message to crowds in hopes of getting the Bush administration's attention.
Saying that Israel is killing children and bombing innocent citizens, one of the speakers, Osama Siblani of the Congress of Arab-American Organizations, said, "This is terror." The crowd cheered loudly in response. "They are cowards."
"We know that the president is being bought by the Zionist lobby. We know that the (U.S.) Congress is being bought by the Zionist lobby. ... But we know that the American people are a great people," he said.
Some of those views concern many in the Jewish communities of metro Detroit.
"No one wanted this war," said Wendy Wagenheim, president of the Jewish Community Council, a coalition of about 200 Jewish groups in Michigan. "And certainly, emotions are running very high at this point. But there is nothing that will be served by importing the tensions apparently in the Middle East to metropolitan Detroit.
"Unfortunately, there are innocent victims on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border, and we pray that peace is restored as soon as possible."
For days, reports have been coming to southeast Michigan's Arab-American community of family and friends trapped in Lebanon.
At one point, a speaker held a portrait of Hassan Nasrallah, Hizballah's secretary-general. The crowd burst into applause.
Rana Abbas-Chami, deputy director of the Michigan Chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, called Israel's violence "appalling, unfathomable and unforgivable."
"The sad reality is that the United States and Israel have decided that they are at liberty to determine the value of human life based on what side of the border you fall. The U.S. is just as guilty as Israel is. History will not forgive, nor will it ever forget, these crimes."
Many people among metro Detroit's Arab-American population say they believe Hizballah -- considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government -- helped end Israel's occupation of Lebanon six years ago.
The United Nations said about half a million Lebanese have fled southern Lebanon since the recent fighting began.
Bilal Amen, 24, of Dearborn said he's been unable to contact aunts and uncles in the region.
"It's heartbreaking," he said. "Whole villages are leveled. Everything is ruined."
Wajih Hakim, 51, also of Dearborn, said his wife and four children went to Lebanon to visit family two weeks ago and have been unable to leave.
"They're seeing hell over there," he said. "I've been on the phone with them and they want to come home, but they can't find a way out."
Hakim was carrying a large American flag.
"I'm an American first," he said, "but this is a very important cause to me."
Danielle Caltoum, 19, of Sterling Heights walked with a sign that said, "Israel = Terrorism. Get out of Lebanon." She said she has relatives in Lebanon.
"America needs to stop supporting Israel," she said. "Maybe our demonstrating can make it stop."
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