On May 31st, I was informed by Tanzila Ahmed of Sepia Mutiny that a major protest was going down at the Los Angeles Israeli consulate on that very day. This protest came as a result of the Israeli military raid on a Gaza humanitarian vessel that left at least nine passengers dead and many more wounded. Immediately after the incident, protests sparked all over the world to denounce the Israeli government’s actions against the Mavi Marmara ship that contained pro-Palestinian activists on board.
Even though I’m passionate about social justice activism, I have never participated in a protest before — I needed to know what the experience was like. When I got there around 4pm, it was slow at first but less than half an hour later, people were rushing in to join the protest, cop cars were circling around like nervous bees, and passing cars were honking in support of the protest (and others who yelled out obscenities against it.) It was an exhilarating experience to be in the thick of it all and to be surrounded by so many passionate people from all religious sects and ethnicities who stood together in solidarity. The sight of so many different people banded together over this matter made me calmly smile, and I got to meet a lot of great people from the Answer LA and the Al-Awda coalitions that organized the demonstration and it was great to gain a little perspective on those who want to put an end to the Israeli occupation in Gaza.
The conflict between Palestine and Israel is an incredibly heated topic, and choosing any side in this issue will immediately provoke strong reactions. But let me put it out there that I do not support the recent actions of the Israeli government and its brutal attacks on the Palestinian citizens; the raid on the flotilla was nothing more than an attack as it was conducted on international waters and Israel broke international law by sending a commando squad on the humanitarian vessel. As such, I see the Israeli government as a big bully and something must be done to rectify this.
I’m aware that nobody has clean hands in this matter, but the country with the superior military power is Israel, not Palestine. With the support of $3 billion in annual funds that they receive from the U.S. government, it is hard for me to defend the Israeli government’s actions to be justified in any way. Israel has that much resources and firepower and as such, they carry a huge responsibility that they are not holding up to. Yet at the same time, I don’t condone violence of any kind and the suicide bombings conducted from Palestinian citizens are also something I disapprove of immensely. There has been too much blood shed from both sides, and something must be done to stop this madness. Palestine and Israel’s bloody history has gone on for far too many decades and the flotilla raid incident is yet another hard reminder that the hatred between the two countries are still running strong.
If you know that you have a strong feeling against a particular issue, take the time and have your voices heard. Tanzila says this point very eloquently in this short interview I conducted with her during the protest.
There is no better time than now to make a difference. There is no better time than now to speak the truth from all perspectives. There is no better time than now to restrain your pride and to actually listen to others around you so that you can have a civil discussion in order to see and understand from all sides. The time to be honest is now and it starts at home with yourself, your friends, and your loved ones.