By Charles McChesney, The Post-Standard – 28 Dec 2009
Nearly 30 people marched around Clinton Square Monday to protest Israel blocking access to Palestinian-controlled Gaza.
A year after Israeli forces entered Gaza, retaliating for rocket attacks, Debra George said she helped organize Monday’s rally in Syracuse to call attention to an attack she said killed 1,400 people, targeted children and still prevents aid from reaching people in Gaza.
“As an American, it is my tax dollars that are going toward allowing this siege,” she said. Magda Bayoumi, of Syracuse, said Israeli forces block shipments of food and medicine, and keep people from going to hospitals. Children have died as a result, she said. As for expecting mothers, if labor comes during hours when access to hospitals is blocked, she said, “it’s your bad luck.”
Herman Bieling, of Lafayette, is a veteran of rallies and protests. He started with a civil rights protest in 1963 and attended anti- Vietnam War rallies in Chicago in 1968, he said. Holding a sign that called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel, Bieling said aid should be cut off to both sides in the conflict until they are willing to sit down and negotiate.
The conflict has been going for decades, he said. “We’ve got to stop it,” Bieling said. “Get it done.
“They’ve got to treat each other like human beings,” he said.
Monday’s protest began with a rally outside the James Hanley Federal Building and turned into a march around the block that includes Clinton Square.
Near the back of the march, Rami Maalouf carried a large green, white and red Palestinian flag. A Palestinian from Nazareth who moved here as a child with his parents decades ago, Maalouf said he has seen and photographed Israeli tear gas attacks on children.
“I witnessed firsthand Israeli atrocities,” he said.
Bayoumi and others said a solution for the Middle East might come in the form of a single country in which Israelis and Palestinians lived together with the same rights and laws. “A two-state solution,” she said, “has become very difficult.”
The situation would be different today, Bieling said, if instead of spending so much on military items, those at odds had built schools and engaged in community-building efforts.