Demonstrators Protest Gaza Violence

Crowd numbered around a hundred
Demonstrators on southeast corner of Liberty and Fifth in downtown Ann Arbor

Demonstrators on the southeast corner of Liberty and Fifth in downtown Ann Arbor.

While out and about early Friday afternoon, The Chronicle noticed a Channel 7 News truck parked across from the Federal Building at Fifth and Liberty in downtown Ann Arbor. A little over an hour later, the news truck had disappeared. But according to one of the people demonstrating on the corner, before departing the camera crew had shot footage of the local protest prompted by recent and ongoing violence in Gaza.

By The Chronicle’s estimate, about 100 people, organized in part by students from Washtenaw Community College and the University of Michigan, had gathered at 3 p.m. to protest. Their signs and their chants placed the blame unambiguously on Israel and the U.S. for supplying financial support. One sign read simply, “Stop Funding Israel.” A group chant began, “1, 2, 3, 4 stop the killing, stop the war,” and concluded with “5, 6, 7, 8 Israel is a terrorist state.”

A demonstrator on the opposite street corner, who wished to be identified simply as “Chuck,” told The Chronicle that he saw a problem in the way that Israel was typically portrayed in the media, “as a victim,” and the way that Palestinians were portrayed typically in the media as “terrorist psychos.” For him, a key statistic to look at was the rate of casualties among Palestinians versus Israelis – which he said were sustained at a ratio of 10:1 or greater – and asked, “Is that self-defense?”

Demonstrators on the southwest corner of Fifth and Liberty

Demonstrators on the southwest corner of Fifth and Liberty.

A few feet away one of Chuck’s colleagues was concluding a verbal altercation with an observer (who did not wish to be further identified) with words to the effect, “It’s good to know there are people like you out there,” walking away despite the observer’s gambit for more talk. But Chuck was game.

The observer’s question: “Do you acknowledge violence everywhere, or only by Israel?” The observer said that he’d not seen similar demonstrations and vigils on behalf of people in China or Darfur, and said that it seemed to him that the protest was not motivated by a desire for peace so much as by anti-Israeli sentiment. Chuck responded by inviting the observer to organize demonstrations on behalf of whoever he liked, saying that it made sense for us (as U.S. citizens) to take a strong interest in Palestine because of the direct connection to U.S. foreign policy on aid to Israel. Chuck’s question for the observer: “Do you acknowledge the right of Palestinians to self-defense?” A yes-no response did not seem forthcoming, but the observer noted what he felt was a “double-standard” applied to Israel on the question of violence. The wind howling out of the north and freezing temperatures probably played a role in cutting the conversation shorter than it might have been.

Asked by The Chronicle what specific call to action locally the demonstration was meant to convey to people walking and driving past, Chuck allowed that it could be distilled into asking people to look deeper than the headlines.

When The Chronicle looked up a few minutes later, the demonstrators had headed east on Liberty for an apparent circuit downtown.


Demonstration chants were led by megaphone.

Some drivers headed through the intersection responded to the sign by honking and waving.

Some drivers headed through the intersection responded to the sign by honking and waving.

Gaza don't cry

The green sign at left reads: "Gaza, do not cry, Palestine will never die."


  1. By Ramsfan
    January 3, 2009 at 11:43 am | permalink

    Since its inception in 1948, Israel has been under attack from the surrounding Arab nations. From day one there has been an effort to wipe Israel off of the map. Israel’s detractors, if they knew anything at all of history, would know this. Most Arab nations don’t acknowledge the state of Israel. The PLO and Hamas have in their charters, “the destruction of Israel.” It has been only the Providence of God that has kept Israel from complete destruction. Israel’s detractor’s can’t see this. Just as they ignore the countless suicide bombers that have attacked Israel for years as well. Israel has suffered many casualties in its civilian population for many years. This paper is part of the “inbred journalism culture” who see things only from a worldview from the left.

  2. By Anonymous
    January 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm | permalink

    So far, 428 Palestinians are dead. 2,220 Palestinians are injured.

    Five Israelis are dead. Tell me again, about “both sides”.

  3. January 3, 2009 at 3:24 pm | permalink

    Eh … I’ve never been impressed by protests in a nation that freely allows protests.

  4. By Dogman
    January 3, 2009 at 9:15 pm | permalink

    Eh…I’ve never been impressed with nations or regimes that don’t allow protests. Hamas, Cuba, Iran, etc

  5. By abdul
    January 4, 2009 at 2:57 pm | permalink

    I can not believe the Chronicle’s way of trying to confuse readers. The “person” you chose, or called upon, as a by-stander, to analyze and speak on the issue, is a cover for you to get the Israeli point of view. The demonstrators have organizers who can speak to you about why they are there and what they want. You chose not to speak to them and to have your own version of events.
    Sadly this is how the Israeli influence has corrupted the media. Where is your integrity? Where is your professionalism? I say shame on you Chronicle.
    Just to let you know, for whatever it is worth, Israel is “an occupying power.” The Palestinian people, according to all international laws, or whatever is left of such human rights laws after “Abu Ghraib” and the “Liberation of Iraq,” justifies and gives full right to the occupied people to defend and liberate themselves by all means deemed necessary to resist occupation.
    So until Israel gets out of Palestine totally and permanently lifts the sanctions which have been in place for 3 years and lets the Palestinian people freely and independently chose whom ever they want to elect to represent them then, and only then, can we consider the Israeli claim for “self defense.”
    YOU CAN NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, COMPARE THE VICTIMS WITH THE AGGRESSOR, AND PUT THEM IN THE SAME BOAT. Whatever the Palestinians have of preemptive, limited, self made weapons to defend themselves, it is by no means as much, or even close to the American made F-16 and the latest American made weapons the Israeli Army is using against a mostly civilian and, at best untrained Pre-military militant group, in Gaza.
    Just take a look at CNN, and every other major news network and newspaper, and tell me honestly how many Arab-Americans or Muslim Americans are working for these networks, in comparison to the number of Jewish Americans. I would like to emphasize that the problem is not the Jewish Americans rather it is the direct ties to the Zionist ideologies that most of the reporters and analysts represent, which in simple terms, is totally, and unequivocally against Arabs and Muslims in general, and Palestinians in particular.
    Ask Wolf Blitzer if he is an American journalist, or an Israeli working for a supposedly American news network??? You and millions of great Americans would realize that he, and many other reporters and journalists like him are Israeli’s first and most avid supporters rather than professional journalists (if you have any doubt regarding this, Google Wolf Blitzer and you will see his political and social affiliations).
    Palestinians, as well as Arabs and Muslims, have historically never had any problems with Judaism or the Jewish people. In fact, Judaism, like Christianity, are religions that are highly respected by the Muslims. I am disappointed in a community based newspaper, like yours, that has chosen to go with the flow and compare the defenseless civilians to a military power that is killing them. My friend’s pictures and the facts speak louder than any network or news media. Thousands of injured and killed Palestinian men, women, and children, in comparison to 4 or 5 Israeli soldiers, is a clear indication of who is killing whom. Journalism is a profession and it has ethics and rules. Unfortunately, when it comes to Israel and the Middle East conflict, they are ignored and have been for over 50 years. Use your conscience and read between the lines. War, and the killing of innocent men, women, and children, will never bring peace to the Middle East.

  6. By Dogman
    January 4, 2009 at 8:42 pm | permalink

    OK, Israel was formed in 1948 without getting your agreement, sorry, that’s what was done back then, get over it.
    In 1967, the arab nations massed thousands of troops around Israel to”Kick the bums out”. The Israeli military kicked some serious ass. Every heard of “Racing for pink slips”?
    Israel won the Sinai, Gaza and Golan Heights pink slips, they won, arabs lost, get over it.
    Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, get real, won’t happen. I would suggest that the Palistinian people wake up, lose the war become friends with Israel and let Israel make your people’s world a great place. Grow up. Move on, let your people go.

  7. By Dave Askins
    January 4, 2009 at 10:50 pm | permalink

    The authors of comments [1] and [5] seem to agree on their view of The Chronicle’s journalistic integrity, but for opposite reasons … based on reading the same article.

    Comment [5] raises a fair question: Why did you include in the article the description of the interaction between Chuck and the observer? I included it for the same reason I reported on the demonstration at all: an event unfolded in front of me in a neighborhood I travel through on a daily basis. Part of that unfolding was noticing a news truck parked on the street before there were any signs of a demonstration. I didn’t return to the scene with a preconceived idea of what “the story” was.

    It turned out that what unfolded on the street corner opposite the demonstration (where I’d taken up a spot to shoot photographs) was an interaction between a demonstrator and some guy who was taking in the scene. We report what unfolds in front of us. In terms of what the demonstration accomplished, that’s something I’d point to (in addition to reminding folks of the crisis in Gaza) if I were an organizer: two people who see the world in radically different ways aired some of their different viewpoints on a downtown street corner in brutally cold weather.

    They didn’t embrace at the end of their conversation and sing Kumbaya. It wasn’t particularly friendly, and in fact it was heated. Still, the exchange was more reasonable than this comment thread has already become.

    So the final word in the thread goes to The Chronicle.

    And with that, comments are closed.