Since war broke out on Oct. 7 in Israel and Gaza, there have been several events and demonstrations in Fresno. Some events were in support of Israel, and several were in support of Palestine.
There was a prayer vigil for Israel at the Cornerstone Church on Oct. 10. There was an Israeli flag-raising ceremony at Eaton Plaza on Oct. 12. At the intersection of Blackstone and Nees avenues in Fresno, demonstrations occurred on Oct. 14 in support of Palestinians in Gaza, on Oct. 15 in support of Israel and on Oct. 17 in support of Palestinian civilians under heavy bombardment (which drew 450 people). All these events were peaceful.
At the flag-raising ceremony, members of Peace Fresno, the Palestinian American community and other Fresno residents came to protest the one-sided action of raising the Israeli flag in support of Israel as innocent civilians of Gaza are getting bombarded and killed.
Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, objecting to protestors at the event exercising their First Amendment rights peacefully, in a statement that outrageously mischaracterized the protestors, said that “we are not here today to alienate any part of our community. However, if people in this community or anywhere else support the terrorist activity that occurred on Saturday in Israel, then I would question their allegiance to the United States of America.”
He went on to repeat unverified claims about atrocities committed by Hamas. He made no mention of Palestinians killed in Gaza by indiscriminate Israeli bombing.
Several hundred people were in support of Palestinians at the Oct. 14 demonstration. Many people held signs calling for a ceasefire and an end to all violence on both sides. Many signs called for ending the occupation, and there were many chants condemning uncritical U.S. support of Israel’s bombing campaign against the civilians of Gaza.
Speakers accused Israel of war crimes and of dehumanizing all Palestinians. Several speakers criticized Mayor Dyer for raising the flag of Israel at Eaton Plaza. Several more demonstrations are planned.
Across the United States, many Americans are speaking out and calling for a ceasefire.
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) made this statement:
“Jewish Voice for Peace mourns deeply for the over 1,200 Israelis killed, the families destroyed, including many of our own, and fears for the lives of Israelis taken hostage. Many are still counting the dead, looking for missing loved ones, devastated by the losses. We wholeheartedly agree with leading Palestinian rights groups: the massacres committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians are horrific war crimes. There is no justification in international law for the indiscriminate killing of civilians or the holding of civilian hostages.”
The JVP statement continues, “And now, horrifyingly, the Israeli and American governments are weaponizing these deaths to fuel a genocidal war against Palestinians in Gaza, pledging to ‘open the gates of hell.’ This war is a continuation of the Nakba, when in 1948, tens of thousands of Palestinians fleeing violence sought refuge in Gaza. It’s a continuation of 75 years of Israeli occupation and apartheid.”
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) issued this statement:
“The policy of the United States has consistently been to deny the reality of the Palestinian plight, only recognizing the situation as a mere ‘conflict’ and standing by to further arm and support Israeli aggression,” said MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati.
“Rather than use their influence to end the bloodshed of Palestinians and Israelis alike, the United States focuses its foreign policy on forging deals with other Arab nations in support of Israel. In doing so, they perpetuate the humiliating frustration of the Palestinians and fuel the cycle of violent reaction to occupation.
“As a global leader, as well as a fundamental player in the history and maintenance of the Palestinian Occupation, the United States must take effective steps to address both the current war and the occupation as a whole.”
On Oct. 17, an air strike hit a Gaza hospital, killing more than 500 civilians. As of Oct. 17, more than 3,500 people in Gaza had been killed in air strikes—more than 1,000 children and more than 800 women.
Contact your representatives in Washington and demand diplomacy. Only an immediate ceasefire can end the bloodshed on both sides.