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Palestine | California | San Francisco | Anti-War | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism

For The Intifada To Succeed, It Must Spread
by Anonymous
Thursday Jul 31st, 2014 2:31 AM
With protests breaking out around the world in support of the Palestinian people, the authors were excited to see what would manifest in the Bay Area. The following essay was written primarily by a participant in the recent marches in San Francisco called by a variety of Left groups. After witnessing organizers trying to quell angry youth through a variety of methods including labeling those who disobeyed as infiltrators, the authors wish to convey a sense of urgency to act as a means to expand the struggle for freedom in Palestine, not contain it.
For two weekends in a row, a broad coalition of groups came together in massive marches through downtown San Francisco in support of the Palestinian cause. No permit was acquired to this author’s knowledge and thousands took over Market Street from the Embarcadero to UN Plaza. In these first two demonstrations, many made attempts to take all lanes of the street, while police insisted on keeping us on one side of the yellow lines. The police received help in this task by the “security team” which seemed to be mostly members of AROC (Arab Resource and Organizing Center) and ANSWER (Act Not to Stop the War and End Racism). The energy in the streets was palpable, despite the organizers’ intent of creating a harmless and photogenic march. So much so, that on the second march, a “die-in” was planned near the Westfield Mall, and not a very good one at that. People merely sat down on the ground at the insistence of those with megaphones, not even close to imitating death. But apparently the organizers felt it was necessary as perhaps the crowd was growing too rowdy, as the Israeli flag was burned moments before. Flag burning was later brought up by attendees as supposedly portraying us as too radical and one person even suggested it made us “just as bad” as Israel.

The next weekend, there was a third march held in downtown San Francisco, except this time, the organizers boasted of obtaining a permit. This was used in order to have the pro-Israel counter-protesters escorted off by the police, despite that not happening very quickly. It also meant that the police would allow people to take all lanes of Market Street. Not satisfied, a handful of demonstrators moved ahead of what the organizers had decided was the front line, enforced by a large banner, and a thick line of string that people held to cut off the entire street. It was also enforced by perhaps two dozen members of the security team, who stood in front of the banner, directing people when to move, when not to, and how fast to go. The only people they would permit on the other side of this line was the press. So, naturally, when some of these demonstrators displayed a small banner that said “Free Gaza,” the security team’s reaction was to call them “infiltrators” for not being on the correct side of their line. Their justification was that they were blocking the organizers’ banner, which wasn’t true, as the couple dozen security team members standing in front of it were all that was needed to block it from view, and the autonomous banner was far enough to the side anyway. Their other justification was that the people who were there, a diverse group that definitely didn’t arrive together, but simply drawn to the same spot, were not Palestinian and therefore were disrespecting the protest. At one point, when faced with, “I’m from Gaza!,” the security team member decided to ignore him and instead went to chastise someone else. Not long after, a woman who was holding the banner that ignored the orders of a security team member was called a “dumb bitch.” The banner stayed out for most of the protest, despite near-constant harassment from the security team, including being kettled at least once.

When the protest arrived at a Victoria’s Secret across from Union Square, the organizers again called for a die-in, hoping that it might distract from other tactics that would be used in the face of a company that profits off of the Israeli occupation. It didn’t work- several people made it inside to disrupt shoppers, and at one point, a sign that was set up outside advertising some sale was smashed on the sidewalk. At least one member of security team arrived to place themselves between the Victoria’s Secret entrance and the crowd that had gathered around it.

The logic that goes into these protests is a simple one: rallies and marches are visual petitions, to be measured in turnout. If there are one thousand, ten thousand, one million people marching, then someone in power will finally decide to start caring. The protest is also meant to be as photogenic as possible, which is why at each march it paused every block for pictures to be taken. This is under the assumption that the nicer it looks, the nicer the things the media will say, and the more people will be swayed to the cause. Perhaps those who are swayed to the cause will join the visual petition the next week. Therefore, when anyone steps out of line, even literally, in the most minuscule of ways, it is a threat to their photo-op. Much more could be said about it also being a threat to their place in the system. Just as unions are used nowadays to stifle worker’s organizing, non-profits and similar groups are used to channel growing protests and social movements into what they deem as acceptable outlets, which are coincidentally, or not, the least effective ones.

On the flip side of the coin, a group of people made plans to escalate tactics: blocking a cargo ship of Israeli company Zim from unloading at the Port of Oakland. This would be a direct action to harm the Israeli economy, and that impact is something that could possibly make Israel rethink its onslaught. This is a similar tactic that was carried out in 2010, and it quickly gathered a lot of momentum, with nearly a thousand people signing up for the Facebook event in a few days time, and thousands more fliers being distributed. However, just days before the action, it was made known that AROC had taken the lead of the event and organizers were calling off the blockade. At first it was claimed there was still going to be a demonstration to raise awareness at the Port, but the next day the entire event was called off. It was said that at some point in the future a real blockade might be attempted, once they feel comfortable with it. Supposedly, with over a thousand dead in Gaza, it is too soon to attempt direct action.

Whether intentionally sinister or inadvertently naive, is hardly the question. Nor is it a question of the more effective protest, photo-ops or direct action, as that answer should be obvious. But the question is why do we continue to allow ourselves to be sabotaged? Why do we continually give platforms to those who undermine us?

For the Port blockade on Saturday, this decision may be too late, as hundreds if not thousands had already planned to show and obstruct the cargo ships. Many might not even see the cancellation while others might intentionally disobey. If nothing else, the confusion that resulted from this power-play has seriously crippled any action that would have been taken at the Port.

The actions by the State of Israel are monstrous. In the wake of bombings and attacks that have left so many dead and injured, people have taken to the streets to fight the occupation forces. While in San Francisco, people march while chanting, “INTIFADA!,” the Arabic word for uprising, the question remains: why do people continue to stifle one here? If we are to truly show solidarity with Palestine, we must make their struggle our struggle. We must take it up and expand it everywhere.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Carmen
Thursday Jul 31st, 2014 11:11 AM
There was a permit- thats how we were able to shut down the Zionist infiltartors
by blah
Thursday Jul 31st, 2014 11:45 AM
"The next weekend, there was a third march held in downtown San Francisco, except this time, the organizers boasted of obtaining a permit."
by SF Peacenik
Thursday Jul 31st, 2014 5:30 PM
Don't you have anything better to do than gripe against our enormous milestone success at having 3 pro-Palestinian demonstrations on Market Street in 3 successive weeks at 2:30 a.m. on a weekday, a workday for most of us, morning? Night time is for sleeping; try to remember that as it improves your analytical skills.

So, let us salute our milestone achievements!

On July 12, 2014 we had about 1,500 people march on Market Street, our main parade street, from the Embarcadero to the Civic Center. In a country where lies about Palestine are routine in the capitalist press and complete refusal to think about politics in this country among 90% of Americans is routine, this is extraordinary. This would not have been possible until at least 1990, probably not until 2000. The only reason it is possible is because there are now 6.5 million Muslims (adults) in this country, and they are a growing, youthful immigrant population, while the religious Jewish population claims 5 million and is old and declining. Most of the marchers had some connection to the Middle East. Those who had no connection to the Middle East had some connection to Left politics in the US. There was nothing average about any of us.

On July 20, 2014, shortly after the ground invasion into Gaza by Israel started, we had a stunning 6,000 people from all over the Bay Area, an area that has 7 million people, to a city, San Francisco, that had 856,000 residents. That 6,000 seems small in comparison, but given the issue, support of Palestinians, it was extraordinary. The die-in was at 4th and Market, before the Westfield Mall, better known as Nordstrom's (and others), and was very effective in reaching people. It does not matter if people were flat on their backs or sitting up; we took up all lanes of traffic on Market Street and sat down for a funeral remembrance of the dead Palestinians, whose names and ages were read out loud. Some of us took the opportunity to teach the people watching this sit-down the economic issues of the theft of our tax dollars by the war machine and the necessity of voting for the only 2 Pro-Palestinian parties on the ballot, Peace & Freedom Party and the Green Party. It would have been better if we had had leaflets with this kind of information with website references to hand out for people to take home and study and pass around.

On July 26, 2014, there were reportedly less than a thousand marchers, but still in the hundreds, and they marched up Market to the Union Square shopping area, with a swing by the SF Chronicle to remind them where the real news was, a good alternative route. I skipped this one because I was exhausted from the previous 2 marches. Hopefully, you had leaflets to hand out providing the information on how much money the US spends on the 4th largest military power in the world, Israel, versus how much it spends on eliminating poverty in the USA. That is how we build our movement. You can shut down any Victoria's Secret naughty underwear store you want, but that does not build anything. In San Francisco, we have lots of underwear stores, so people will just shop elsewhere for underwear.

As to flag-burning, which I saw on July 12, burning any flag does not win any support or build any movement. It is the same free speech as uttering foul words. You have the First Amendment right to burn flags, but hopefully the sense not to do so, and the consciousness that time must not be wasted on flag-burning, but instead we must reach every American to support the Palestinian liberation struggle, and to do that, you must tell them what a waste of our tax dollars the war machine is. There is no altruism; charity begins at home, in the paycheck. We have 50% poverty in this country and spending any money on war anywhere is a crime against humanity. We cannot have guns and butter, and that is what Americans need to hear if we are to build a movement so that a secular state of Palestine exists from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

We now have an UNCONDITIONAL 72 HOUR TRUCE, to start Friday at 8 a.m. in Palestine. Palestine is 10 hours ahead of San Francisco in time. This truce was announced (meaning ORDERED) by Secretary of State Kerry. See
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=717293

This truce can be extended forever. After all, there is no peace treaty ending the US war against Korea, which ended with a truce in 1953.

Considering some Israeli leaders wanted to kill all 1.8 million Gazans and flatten Gaza, Kerry and the capitalist class that he represents clearly were feeling intense pressure from around the world and across the USA. We had constant demonstrations for 3 weeks around the world and across the USA, as well as Internet Petitions , demands to call Congress and the President to protest their promotion of war, and more people in the Jewish community protesting this genocide than ever before thanks to seeing the horrors on the Internet. We will keep protesting because the struggle is not over.

What we need is a labor movement capable of carrying out a general strike to put an end to the profit motive that is the cause of all our grief. The greatest profits are in munitions and oil, and that is why the US capitalist class arms Israel and all the other capitalist puppets around the world, including the phony Ukrainian government which has killed hundreds of Ukrainians this year so far, which is threatening war with Russia, a nuclear power. A nuclear war means the end of life on earth. You can learn more about Nazi Ukraine as well as Nazi Israel at:
http://globalresearch.ca/
by you missed the whole point
Thursday Jul 31st, 2014 5:55 PM
Congrats Peacenik, you missed the entire point, to the point I suspect you skimmed the whole thing.

You once again reiterate the importance of turnout, of being as polite as possible, and even suggest that it is imperative people vote for supposedly "pro-palestinian" politicians.
by SF Peacenik
Thursday Jul 31st, 2014 8:39 PM
The point is LABOR ORGANIZING IS THE KEY to ending the profit motive that is the cause of all our grief. Shutting down underwear stores and burning flags do not achieve the goal of eliminating capitalism. That goal is our most urgent need. If you cannot do labor organizing, please help those who can, now.
by anonymous
Friday Aug 1st, 2014 11:40 AM
the cease fire was over almost as soon as it started.