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Rally protests Israeli violence

By Judith ScherrDaily Planet Staff
Friday October 06, 2000

Some 500 people rallied at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus Thursday, decrying the more than 50 deaths and over 1,000 injuries in the West Bank and Gaza strip resulting from the recent altercations between Israeli soldiers on the one hand and Palestinians and Arab Israelis on the other. 

“No justice no peace,” the crowd called out between speakers. 

Graduate student Hatem Bazian talked about 12-year-old Mohammed Jamal Aldura who died from an Israeli soldier’s bullet Saturday. The ambulance driver trying to get to the child was also killed. 

“That little child was killed point blank by the Israelis,” Bazian told the crowd. It now is being conceded that the child was in fact killed by the Israelis, although first reports said he was “caught in the crossfire,” Bazian said. 

Altercations broke out a week ago after Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited a holy site in Jerusalem, sacred to Jews and Muslims. The visit sparked an angry response from Palestinians, which reportedly included rock and Molotov cocktail throwing and a heavily armed response from the Israelis. 

Bazian said the U.S. Congress and press portrays the Palestinians as aggressors and the Israelis the victims, with the settlers seen as the John-Wayne type hero. But he said, in fact, it is the Palestinians who have been uprooted from their homes and forced to live as refugees. 

He said violence is more easily perpetrated by the Israelis because they dehumanize the Palestinians. “When will it be in the mind of the Israelis that the Palestinians will be human?” he asked, contending that most the shootings of Arab Israelis and Palestinians have been in the upper body, demonstrating an intention to kill. 

Bazian placed the blame on the American people. “Every bullet that hits a Palestinian is made and paid for courtesy of the U.S.,” he said.  

Among the mostly-student crowd was Daniel Boyarin, UC Berkeley professor of Jewish studies. Boyarin describes himself as an Orthodox Jew and anti-Zionist. Having lived in Israel for a decade, Boyarin, a former supporter of the state of Israel, said he learned from living there that the logical consequence of developing a country as a Jewish state is oppression towards those who would want to share state power. 

He described the recent events as “tragic,” but not something people should not have expected. It is “the necessary consequence of the existence of the Zionist state...a logical consequence of oppression,” he said. 

He said the oppression against the minority Arab and Palestinian populations goes on day to day and it is only the kind of violence recently perpetrated that brings people to the streets. 

After the rally, a group of Jewish students from Hillel and the Jewish Student Union sang songs and called on both Israelis and Palestinians to put an end to the violence. 

The Israeli consulate in San Francisco was called for comment but did not return Daily Planet calls.