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At Vigil for Palestinians Killed in Gaza, Protesters Criticize Media, U.S. Aid to Israel

Categories: Politics

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Ray Downs
Activist Suhad Khatib addresses the crowd.
People gathered in front of the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church on Lindell Boulevard Sunday to mourn the nearly 200 Palestinians killed by Israeli military attacks over the past week. But they also came to protest what they claim to be is unfair media coverage and a U.S. government that sends vast amounts of money in military aid to Israel.

The battle between Israel and Hamas has been bloody. But in the past few days, nearly all of that blood has shed from Palestinians. Hamas is guilty of firing hundreds of rockets into Israel, but Israel has been criticized for being too heavy-handed with its attacks in Gaza, one of the most densely populated cities on earth. Those attacks have resulted in 172 deaths, according to Sunday night reports. Most of the dead are civilians, including young children. Israel, meanwhile, has no deaths reported in this latest battle.

And while the violence in Gaza might be a long way from St. Louis, the Palestinian population here, as well as many other supporters, had something to say about it.

Despite intermittent rain, a large crowd showed up to the vigil that was organized by the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee. Several people waved Palestinian flags as cars drove by and honked in support. Many others held strongly-worded signs with messages such as, "Blowing Children to Bloody Bits is Not Self-Defense" and "Stop the Genocide."

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"We're here because $3.1 billion of our U.S. tax dollars -- every year -- goes to militarize the Israeli army that has done done all these things and keep doing it," says Suhad Khatib, an activist with the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee. "They're not stopping and they have the media on their side. So we just want to be in the same space of people to talk about what we know is the truth."

See also: St. Louis Woman's Deportation From Israel Raises Diplomacy Questions

The billions of dollars that Washington sends to Tel Aviv each year was a major concern for many of the protesters, including Nick Badwan, a Palestinian who has lived in St. Louis for 10 years, and his American wife, Jamilla.

"The U.S. only supports Israel," says Nick Badwan. "They send all kinds of money to the military there."

"Stop funding them," adds Jamilla Badwan. "Each thing that they throw at us is funded by our money -- and that's the thing that sucks. There's nothing you can do as an American but protest."

See also: West Bank Story - From Palestine comes an absurdist look at life under the intifada

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The Badwans also claim that the media coverage has been unfair and heavily biased towards Israel. One example cited by them, as well as other protesters, was the faux pas committed by ABC's Diane Sawyer, who aired images of Palestinians amidst buildings demolished by the Israeli military, but said they were of Israelis whose homes were destroyed by Hamas.

Sawyer apologized for the error, but protesters say it is just one example of a larger issue.

"You only hear about Israel in the news or media. You only get one side of the story," says Nick Badwan. "There has been 200 people killed in Gaza and Israel only talks about their side. What about the other side?"

Jamilla adds: "If the tables were turned, the coverage would be everywhere. If one [Israeli] kid died, it would be equal to 5,000 of us. But with us, how many people have died -- women, children -- and the coverage is where? It's nowhere."

Many children have died in the Gaza attacks and several protesters brought their children to participate in the demonstration as a show of solidarity.

Haleema Jaraba brought her young daughters and nieces to the protest and one of her kids held a sign that read: "Killing an 11-Month-Old is Not Self-Defense." The Florissant housewife says she has been impacted by images of dead Palestinian children.

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Ray Downs

"I would hate that if my kids had nothing to do with it and a bomb fell on their house and killed them for nothing," she says. "What does kids have to do with it? They didn't throw a bomb or shoot soldiers or anything. They didn't cause any of this."

The Israeli government says that the deaths of civilians is the fault of Hamas -- if the anti-Israel group did not use civilian homes and mosques, Israeli officials claim, the Israeli military wouldn't need to target those types of places.

At one point during the vigil, the name of each Palestinian who has been killed by Israeli military attacks was somberly read aloud. Khatib says making the list was difficult because it nearly doubled overnight.

"Yesterday when I was preparing the list of people that were killed so that we can read them today, I had 100 people," she says. "Today, they were telling me we have 178 people."

Ghaith Hasan, a 26-year-old biomedical engineer at the Veterans Administration hospital in St. Louis, says he hopes that people look at the situation between Israel and Palestine in a more open-minded way.

See also: Pro-Palestine Group Accuses Congressman Russ Carnahan of Refusing to Meet

"It's really important to get the word out and educate people and show people there's a lot of different viewpoints and different things that most people don't know," he says.

And Janeen Salem, a 24-year-old behavior therapist in St. Charles says that education about the situation could have major impacts.

"Americans especially are really misguided on issues in the Middle East," she says. "Changing public opinion is my goal and I feel like that would have a bigger effect on our government and how we do things in the Middle East."

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Ray Downs
A fed-up protester.

Khatib says that the violence in Gaza has made a deep impact on St. Louis' Palestinian community has been "overwhelmed with sadness." She then describes a very graphic video that has been shared widely on social media that shows a Palestinian man crying over his son, who had just been killed.

"The father is holding his son and begging him to wake up and promising him that he had bought him a new toy -- but half of the kid's head was gone," she says.

Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:

E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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70 comments
sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

arafat flew around the world and had people do it for him and buy expensive clothing etc while he had his pawns keeping up the hate 


the plo /hammamamaas is like Israel doesnt just wipe them out


which I dont understand why they dont


sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

Israel counter punches


there is no denying that


the usual cry from the leftist is


well they hit back harder than we hit them



THEN DONT ATTACK THEM


TAKE ALL THAT MONEY AND BUILD BUSINESS like the Israelis do


instead of being non educated and looking to blame others for your lack of ambition 

dmoolten
dmoolten

The Palestinian tactic of terrorist attack, mass killing, bombing, kidnapping etc followed by indignation when the Israelis respond is never going to make much progress.  All the casualties in Gaza come because the citizens of Gaza collectively voted for a terrorist government which uses terror as its primary negotiating strategy. Peace, security and prosperity and a Palestinian state, Palestinians would have all these things already if they used diplomacy instead of murder.  People can rationalize all they want, but terrorism can't be sanctioned, not now, not ever.  

Ben Minoff
Ben Minoff

The fact of the matter is that Hamas hides with civilians, shoot out rockets within civilians,and again go back and hide within civilians. Almost impossible to catch them without civilians around. Israeli soldiers are right there in the border, go attack them, leave Israeli civilians alone.

Ben Minoff
Ben Minoff

The videos were not propaganda, they were part of the news broadcast following 9/11. They were showing how the world reacted to the news.

Paul Graham
Paul Graham

Too bad most of the people in Israel now are Europeans, Cameron. Hundreds of different parties over the centuries have had control of that land yet some Europeans who converted to Judaism, not the people who are the actual birthright in the Old Testament have a right to it? The Jews of the Old Testament are all Arabs and Muslims now, please pick up a book sometime and learn some history.

Paul Graham
Paul Graham

80% of the people killed in Gaza are civilians so you basically are the people dancing in the streets at 9/11

Paul Graham
Paul Graham

9/11 videos. Wonderful. Use propaganda as a piece of evidence.

Paul Graham
Paul Graham

"They" The people who were there in the 7th century are Arabs and Muslims now. Once again, read a book.

suhail_shafi
suhail_shafi

US politicians who support Israel's crimes against humanity should be imprisoned and tortured to give them a taste of their own medicine. The same goes for anyone else guilty of supporting Israeli war crimes. 

andrea
andrea

when you no longer feel pain for another human in suffering ,, Your humanity is sucking its last breathes. Before any religion religion, before any nation comes humanity otherwise we are just a bunch babbling beast. What kind of world do you want? Hitler happened because good people turned away. How can those born of his victims not feel the pain they now inflict. The world rose to save them and itself from him, does it have to again?

Marlin Rogers
Marlin Rogers

Ok peeps, if Mexico wanted part of the United States back and started shooting at us what would you do ?

Alex Peck
Alex Peck

Palestine is garbage..Israel is and always will be Christians only!!

Chris Singer
Chris Singer

It really is simple to see past most of these tired talking points used to justify the horrific things that the Israeli government does. I hope people reading the vast majority of these comments posted take the time to do so.

Idiot Abroad
Idiot Abroad

I hope they blow each other up, then I will go there and say My God promished me this Land.

Benjamin Northcutt
Benjamin Northcutt

Fucking muslim slime balls need to go back to their lil camel lands and get the hell outta america. Fucking cocksuckers. Fuck allah. God is the true king

Sarah Casteel
Sarah Casteel

Wow. too bad. Over 75% of that aid comes directly back to us. Considering Israel is the only true democratic nation in the middle east, it's an extremely essential ally for us. Not to mention Israel is incredibly progressive. We get technology, agriculture, military, economic and more benefits from our strategic partnership with Israel. I'm glad that I wasn't at this protest because I can only handle a couple misinformed people at a time. The American media is disgustingly biased against Israel and toward the "plight" of the Palestinians. If only my uneducated peers in America cared to learn the facts instead of believing the bull shit, stupid rallies like this wouldn't be happening.

AnnS
AnnS

Hmmm and why doesn't Gaza have bomb shelters?


They are used as stockpiles for rockets and ammunition.


AnnS
AnnS

BTW:  Who's going to protest this money to buy more weapons to kill Jews.:


"The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, raises money for Gaza through its Web site, with payments going through WorldPay (part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group), the Arab Bank PLC in Gaza and HSBC in Amman, Jordan. Those funds come in addition to UNRWA's annual budget of $400 million.


The $7 billion to $10 billion that the Palestinian Authority has received since 1993 has come from the European Union, the U.N., the U.S., Saudi Arabia and other Arab League countries. France alone has sent more than $3 billion. This influx of cash has done little to advance the development of a viable Palestinian state or of peace in the region. Rather, it has helped to fuel the Palestinian leadership's terrorist agenda, and kept the Palestinian people oppressed and disenfranchised."

AnnS
AnnS

Now I would like to see the reporter interview an expert on what is really going on with the Gaza/Israeli conflict.  Israel sent out messages to the citizens of northern Gaza telling them they should leave and Hamas refused to let them go.  Time and time again it has been proven that some of the Palestinian videos are actually edited and nothing but propaganda.  The citizens of Gaza voted Hamas in during the last election now they are living with the consequences of having terrorists leaders run their country.  it was even passed in the US that Hamas was a terrorist organization.  They are acquiring more sophisticated missiles from Iran and attempted to strike an Israeli nuclear power plant yesterday.  If someone was trying to kill my family, I sure would do whatever it takes.  When the so-called Palestinians love their children more than they hate Jews, then there might be a real peace plan.  Now they do not want a Palestinian state within Israel, they want one instead of Israel.

Ron Clements
Ron Clements

No, by all means, keep sending money to Israel. Meanwhile, cities like Detroit continue to live in poverty.

Tara Broadway
Tara Broadway

They have been fighting off countries since at least the 7th century (600s) You need to read a BOOK..

Michael Cohan
Michael Cohan

The "Gaza Murderers" I refer to are Hamas members. The civilians in the Gaza Strip die because Hamas uses them as human shields.

Paul Graham
Paul Graham

"Thousands of years"?!?!? You're only proving your ignorance about history. Read a book.

Paul Graham
Paul Graham

Probably because they are marginalized to the point of total desperation by Israel and the West and will support anyone who they think can help them out.

Paul Graham
Paul Graham

Turn off the propaganda, dude. Neither side should be firing at civilians, period. The vast majority of the "Gaza murderers" you're in support of killing are innocents and most are women and children just caught in the crossfire.

AndJusticeForAll
AndJusticeForAll

This is the kind of type of non-educated bigotry that fuels this kind of misled hatred :

"instead of being non educated and looking to blame others for your lack of ambition", sounds like someone needs to get a clue and "ambition" to learn the history as to how Israel uses your ignorant tax dollars to terrorize and steal the land that the Palestinian people have fought for and lived on long before 1948, and the failed resolution 242. You need to be ambitious enough yourself to become educated. Idiot.

AndJusticeForAll
AndJusticeForAll

Your tax dollars have fueled Israeli terrorism and corruption since 1948. Learn the history before you spout.

buickboy87
buickboy87

@dmoolten What would you do tonight if someone broke into your house and said the second floor was now his? Would you use diplomacy or grab your gun. This is the same tactic the U.S. used on the native Americans. Demonize them first and then destroy them. When was the last time you saw a Native American?

andrew586
andrew586

Wrong. Most of the them are from middle eastern countries and were chased out of those countries by Arabs. Sorry that reality encroaches on your fantasy view of the world. 

buickboy87
buickboy87

You are correct sir, they have no rights to that land.

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

well, if you are Obama



you just let them in


but you are 1000% correct

sarv_s
sarv_s

Alex Please check Brother Nathanael's videos on Israel- the way Jesus is mocked  on TV with impunity .. I also suggest you check out Miko Peled's video..This kind of bloodbath only helps radical groups to spread their hate agenda n the cycle of mindless violence  goes on 

Chris
Chris

Allah means God!

hoffmann2
hoffmann2

@AnnS are you one of the students that Israel pays to parrot its state propaganda?

hoffmann2
hoffmann2

@AnnS are you one of the students that Israel pays to parrot its state propaganda?

buickboy87
buickboy87

@AnnS


They want to leave, but where? They can't go to Israel. They can't go into the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt closed the borders. Where would you suggest they go? Maybe blast of into outer space?

hoffmann2
hoffmann2

@AnnS are you one of the students that Israel pays to parrot its state propaganda?

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

@AndJusticeForAll


your self hate and racism  and hypocrisy is evident right down to your screen name


"and justice for all"


enjoy:)

dmoolten
dmoolten

@AndJusticeForAll I'm fully aware of the history, and the revisionist and often anti-Semitic canards regarding Israel's "right to exist."  I assume that's what your hinting at with "1948." Perhaps you agree with Hamas and wish to "drive the Jews into the sea"?  Israel was created with a UN mandate and for the most part was a reasonable compromise regarding the wish for a "Jewish" state and the management of British Palestine once the British left.  It's fanatics (and people like you who apparently support them) whose denial of Israel's right to exist and refusal to negotiate or compromise and constant deliberate targeting of innocent people, including Jews and others outside Israel, has made peace impossible. I fully support returning the occupied West Bank; but every time children are kidnapped and murdered or something similar (what started the recent goings on) I'm a little less motivated for a while.  Ditto for most people, yourself perhaps excluded.  Palestinian extremism is what Israel extremists love most.  The rest of us can only sit on our hands.

dmoolten
dmoolten

@AndJusticeForAll The usual anti-semitic canard. I suppose some kind of Jewish conspiracy was and is responsible for the "terrorism and corruption." The creation of Israel was legitimate in every way and supported globally.  Simply saying the moon is made of green cheese doesn't make it so.  The call for the elimination of Israel and the "driving of the Jews into the sea" which your subtle or not so subtle reference to 1948 tacitly supports is what's behind the terrorism and cowardly attacks on Israel that have gone on since then.  People like you see no room for negotiation, compromise or peace.  This is why the violence continues.

dmoolten
dmoolten

@buickboy87 @dmoolten The example is right but the sides are wrong.  It's the terrorists doing the housebreaking, and the Israelis responding.  Blowing up buses has nothing to do with Native Americans, nor can it be rationalized away.

buickboy87
buickboy87

@sweetliberty17761776 @suhail_shafi


What would we do if Israel showed up on our doorstep claiming title to our country? It's never right to just stake claim to other peoples land. They have a right to defend against the Israeli terrorists.

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

@buickboy87 @sweetliberty17761776 @suhail_shafi



welllll,



the south americans arent even asking and are being let in


but I get your question


that is the way the world works


from Africa on african tribes conquer other tribes etc etc etc


and if you really lack the knowledge of history by your implication that Israel wasnt given the land via the owners aka the brits with the UN 


but the facts are



both live in the area


Israel built up ( and employee palastinians ) an economy



the plo /hammass like others in the world stay or dont have what it takes to be educated so they fight



buickboy87
buickboy87

@sweetliberty17761776 @suhail_shafi


Remember when we turned a blind eye to South Africa? We now agree that apartheid was a horrific criminal system. There is a distinct parallel here. Crimes against humanity period.

dmoolten
dmoolten

@buickboy87 @sweetliberty17761776 @suhail_shafi I don't recall South African blacks blowing up buses and pizza shops with babies as their primary response to apartheid.  Nor was terrorism what created the discriminatory system or caused international support for change. I agree that there are Israeli practices, particularly in the occupied territories that are discriminatory.  But most of the measures Israel has taken, many admittedly Draconian, have come in response to brutal terrorist attacks or at least have used such attacks as an effective tool for gaining support if not proving justification.  If Palestinians used less violent methods of resistance more they'd already have achieved their goals, as did South African blacks or for that matter American blacks with the civil rights movement, Gandhi in India etc.  In fact, it's almost entirely the Palestinian use of non-violent resistance that has gained the support for the Palestinian cause Palestinians have internationally. No one shows up to demonstrate in the name of Hamas.  But they'll show up having heard about Rachel Corrie. There are plenty of Americans and for that matter Israelis that have tried to collaborate with non-violent Palestinian efforts to achieve justice.  It's terrorism that keeps hitting the reset button every time any progress is made.

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