"We are martyrs we can't wait" Arabs attack anti terrorism rally participants in Berkeley
Arabs dressed as terrorists assault crowd and disrupt anti terrorism event
Arabs attack US anti terror march
San Francisco, California police were braced for more violence Monday following yesterday's violent attack by Arabs and other anti-Zionists who charged into a crowd of 500 anti-terror protestors.
A Berkeley rally against terrorism that featured a bombed Israeli bus turned briefly violent Sunday when angry counter demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags marched into the mostly pro-Israel crowd.
Riot police quickly separated combatants, some of whom came to blows, during the afternoon event organized by the Israeli Action Committee of the East Bay. Police cited one man on a charge of misdemeanor battery.
"Emotions were high, but overall, aside from verbal confrontations and one physical altercation, the event went relatively smoothly," said police Sgt. Joe Okies.
More than 500 people, mostly Jews from throughout the Bay Area, gathered in Martin Luther King Jr. Park to hear speakers denounce terrorism. A similar rally featuring the bus is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today in San Francisco's Civic Center Park.
Bus 19 was destroyed in Jerusalem last year in a suicide bombing that killed 11 people and injured 45. It is owned by Jerusalem Connection International, which argues that God gave Israel solely to the Jews. Since May, the bus has appeared in Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Dallas and central Florida, among other places, without provoking violence.
More than 200 counter-demonstrators gathered Sunday across the street from the park for what was billed in advance as a silent vigil honoring children slain in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most were reserved, but some 40 people, mostly men of Middle Eastern descent, yelled and exchanged taunts with pro-Israeli demonstrators across the street.
"Two, four, six, eight, we are martyrs, we can't wait," chanted the group, most of whom wore kaffiyehs -- the cloth headdress closely associated with Palestinian militants. Some drove around the park, their faces covered, waving Palestinian flags.
"We are here to make sure that these people are ashamed of themselves," said Essam Mahgoub, a native of Cairo, who lives in Oakland and attended with his wife and four children.
"They (Israelis) stole our land, raped our women, destroyed our olive trees and destroyed our homes," he said.
One young man, his face covered, walked through the pro-Israeli crowd passing out literature criticizing Israeli policies.
"Take your poison elsewhere," responded Yvette Hoffer, who had come to the anti-terrorism rally from El Cerrito.
Shortly after the event started at noon, pro-Palestinian demonstrators got into a heated exchange with pro-Israeli demonstrators on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Police intervened before fists flew.
Later, flag carrying pro-Palestinians entered the park and were quickly confronted by hundreds of supporters of Israel. Men on both sides taunted each other and threw punches, but police soon stopped them. The rally ended about 2 p.m., and most demonstrators dispersed by 3:30 p.m.
Rally organizers said the provocative actions of some counter-demonstrators illustrated that they support the use of terrorism.
"They attempted to disrupt the rally through the same kinds of intimidation and indiscriminate violence that are the hallmarks of our 21st century scourge, global terrorism," said David Meir-Levi, an insurance agent from Menlo Park who acted as the master of ceremonies for the anti-terrorism rally.
Organizers of the counterdemonstration had asked that participants not directly interact with the anti-terrorism rally.
Barbara Lubin, executive director of Berkeley's Middle East Children's Alliance, one of a coalition of local organizations critical of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, said she didn't think "much is gained by shouting across the street."
Most counterdemonstrators quietly carried signs, many with faces of slain Palestinian children.
E-mail Patrick Hoge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hundreds of people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict turned out for a rally featuring the wreckage of a bombed Jerusalem bus -- an event that sparked some heated verbal clashes but was largely peaceful
As many as 700 people showed up Sunday for an anti-terrorism protest built around the exhibit of Bus 19, the remains of a bus that was struck by a suicide bomber a year ago, killing eleven people and injuring 45.
Another group of about 300 took part in a counter demonstration across the street, holding up signs representing Palestinian children killed in the conflict.
At one point, a verbal confrontation turned physical and two people were taken into custody, police said. But for the most part, the two-hour event, held in a sunny downtown park, was calm.
Speakers at the anti-terrorism rally said the mangled wreckage of Bus 19, which is being displayed around the country and was scheduled to be in San Francisco Monday, shows the devastating effects of terrorism.
"There is a global threat that we are facing today," said James Hutchens, president of the Washington, D.C.-based The Jerusalem Connection, formerly known as Christians for Israel, which organized the exhibit. "We want to come together and say this is unacceptable."
But critics said the bus exhibit was a one-sided endorsement of Israeli policy.
"We're here because we believe in justice," said Barbara Lubin, executive director of the Middle East Children's Alliance, a Berkeley-based group that provides aid to Palestinian and Iraqi children. "I think everybody on this side believes that this can be resolved and has to be resolved."
But, she said, peace cannot be reached in the Middle East "until the issue of Palestine is justly resolved."
Most of the verbal clashing came from two fairly small groups who faced off across an intersection. On one side, about two dozen people waved Palestinian flags and shouted slogans including "Free, free Palestine!" and "Hey, hey. Ho, ho. The occupation has to go."
On the other side of the street, a handful of people waved United States and Israeli flags and yelled back their disagreement.
As the rally wore on, some of the more vocal pro-Palestinian protesters crossed the street and attempted to march through the rally. They were swiftly surrounded by police and eventually retreated back across the street.
Among those attending the anti-terrorism rally was Ellen Cohen of Palo Alto.
"I oppose terrorism," she said. "Although I believe the Palestinians deserve a state, I don't agree with their means to achieve it. I don't think you should strap bombs on kids and send them out to kill other kids."
She was disappointed to see a counter demonstration.
"I was really hoping that they would be on this side, protesting terrorism," she said.
Berkeley, with its rich history of protest, has been the site of a number of demonstrations centered on Palestinian-Israeli issues. One of the larger confrontations came in spring 2002 when 79 arrests were made after pro-Palestinian protesters took over a building at the University of California, Berkeley.
City Councilman Max Anderson, who was standing with the silent counter protesters Sunday, said it should be no surprise that Berkeley is wrestling with Middle East politics.
"This is a political place. Berkeley is renowned for taking up tough issues," he said. "There's no tougher issue on this planet right now than the conflict in the Middle East."