The following are two speeches, one by myself and the other by Wen, given at a rally protesting Israel’s Independence Day at the University of Washington in April, 2009.
Each year, the Zionist groups on campus take the opportunity to hold what they call “IsraelPalooza,” which they frame as a purely cultural Independence Day celebration. As part of the Palestine solidarity campaign that Wen and i were involved in, we decided to crash their apartheid party.
While the Zionists tried to emphasize their event as a celebration of Israeli culture, we decided to celebrate 61 years of Palestinian resistance to apartheid. At their event, they offered live music, henna, hookah, falafel, and a “dialogue” tent, ostensibly to prove that they were nice, reasonable people. However, once we began our rally not far away, the white supremacist insults began. First we heard, “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian, you idiot!” Later, Zionists tried to verbally and physically provoke those on our side. We held our cool, while the campus police, who had promised to keep the groups separated, stood back and did nothing to prevent the Zionist hostility.
After several speeches were made and some lively chants recited (including: “From Mexico to Palestine, tear down the wall!”), we began a loud march around the perimeter of the apartheid party. Being that the event was outdoors and advertised as free and open to the public, we decided that we would enter their settlement-like party as a contingent. However, when we tried to enter, the cops formed a human barricade and denied us entry. While they were not willing to intervene when the Zionists were trying to provoke physical fights, the cops were all too happy to bar us from a free event. In comparing the two opposing sides, as we stood face to face with each other, two things were clear: 1) They were overwhelmingly white and we were majority people of color; and 2) The cops were willing to use force to “protect” the whiteys and their “culture” from all the scary brown people. For a brief moment that day, it was like we were living under legally enforced segregation.
Just in case their white supremacy wasn’t obvious enough, the Zionists helped make it crystal clear when one of them yelled at our brown group, “Swine Flu.” When an anti-Zionist Jewish woman who was part of our rally tried to enter IsraelPalooza, the cops barred her, while a couple Zionists behind the cops screamed, “Don’t let her in. She might be a suicide bomber.”
Anyway, after a lengthy showdown with the pigs, we marched through campus, still full of energy, right to a local Palestinian falafel restaurant. The food there was good; much better, i imagine, than the appropriated, blood-soaked falafel that the Zionists were giving out.
I wish i could post video from the event, but it has been lost, so i am posting the flyer for the event along with the two speeches. Continue reading Crashing the Party: Protesting Apartheid Celebrations in Seattle